When my daughter, Stella, was five we bought a winter hat shaped like a shark at the Gap on a whim. It was made from gray camouflage fleece and it tied under her chin. The face opening was a red jaw lined with fierce teeth.
Just a few months prior I’d had a baby and Stella went from being the youngest to being a middle child. She loved her little sister, but she’d also loved being the baby herself. When the weather here in Boston started to turn cold she wore that shark hat every day. It was fierce and she looked fierce in it. The hat protected her head against the cold wind and snow and it protected her in other ways, too.
Ever since then Stella has loved to wear hats. She wears a fedora when we get dressed up for fancy occasions and she wears a baseball cap when the weather is sunny. And each winter she chooses a new animal hat to bundle up under. She’s had a tiger and a racoon and a monster, among others. This year it was tricky to find a hat she wanted. She’s nine and a lot of the fleece animal hats in stores are for younger kids.
So, I offered to make her one (you saw that coming, right?). I bought Fleece Hat Friends: 25+ Easy-to-Sew Projects by Mary Rasch and let her pick what she wanted.
This book was published by Lark in 2012. It begins by showing you how to make a basic fleece hat with or without ear flaps and then gives you lots of different animal variations including a bat, a beaver, a bee, a butterfly, a cat, a dinosaur, a giraffe, a fish a hippo, and many more.
She picked the rooster.
The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Fleece is inexpensive and easy to find in all different colors (I buy it at Jo-Ann’s or on Fabric.com). It’s also warm and totally washable.
I feel like there are two types of craft book on the market now. There are beautiful craft books that are like art objects in and of themselves with incredible photography and photo styling and totally customized design with end papers and fonts and colors that are just amazing. Abrams publishes books like these as does Lucky Spool.
And then there are the basic project books. These are more pedestrian. The layout was done by tweaking a template. The photography serves its purpose, but isn’t about to win any awards. My book with Annie’s falls into this category and when I was considering accepting that project a friend of mine in the publishing world advised me against it saying it could hurt my reputation if I authored one of these less high-end craft books. I don’t think that’s true.
I like both kinds of books, but when I really want to sew things for my kids a book like Fleece Hat Friends is really perfect. I don’t need fancy. I’m not looking for an art experience when I turn the pages. I just want patterns that work for things that they’ll wear. For $17.95 this book gives me more than 25 hat patterns that are cute and fun to make (the rooster took me about 90 minutes from start to finish including tracing the templates).
The baby, Josephine, is almost five now. When she saw the rooster hat this morning she shed a few tears. “How come you didn’t make my butterfly hat first?” And then she wanted her photo taken for the blog, too. I have a pile of pink and purple fleece on my desk and soon Josephine will have a fleece hat to protect her from the cold with a handmade hug from mommy. Being the baby isn’t easy either.
Fleece Hat Friends is available from Amazon or at your local bookstore.