Sewing Pattern for a Wool Newsboy Cap and Beret

Wool tweed cap with brim - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

Waaaay back in June I started working on a six-section cap for my husband Kofi. For months he’d been asking me, when are you going to make something for me? So I told him I’d make him a cap. I thought it would be a good learning experience. I’ve either made hats without a pattern (like this red velvet hat) or from patterns I’ve bought (like this one I made from a Patricia Underwood Vogue pattern). Last spring I bought a couple of books on hats (see Books on Making Hats) so I began drafting a pattern for a six-section cap based on instructions from Fashion Hats by British milliner Karen Henriksen. My goal was to create a sewing pattern for a wool newsboy cap. The beret is just the cap without the brim.

I bought a protractor (remember those things from grade-school geometry?) to make sure I’d get the correct angle. A cap is a circle (360 degrees!), which means that one piece of a six-section cap would comprise 60 degrees (6 x 60 = 360).

My first pattern piece looked like this, which created an oversize hat that was more suited for a woman with a lot of hair. Though I suppose if you were aiming for a 1970s look – the Apple Cap, which has been described as a floppy newsboy cap, would be fine. Here’s my mannequin head (we call her Natasha) wearing that hat, which as you can see has a bit of a high crown. Kofi thought it was rather pouffy on him but fine on me. So first cap to me!

First draft - 6-section cap pattern Woman's 6-section wool cap with brim on manny head

So I began making adjustments to the pattern and drafted four more before I got one that he liked. The frustrating part was that each time Kofi tried one on, he said stuff like, “I don’t get it, why can’t you make it look right?” and Why is this taking so long?”

Then I’d try to explain – “Because I’m experimenting and these are DRAFT patterns. I don’t know what it will look like until I’ve sewn it together and that takes TIME.”

On Draft No. 2 I adjusted the curve, thinking this would help take down the pouf but the angle was too steep so it didn’t curve right when I sewed that one up.

6-section pattern piece - curve too sharp

I’m not sure where this piece fits in the chronology but I forgot to add the seam allowance to this piece. Look at how it fits on Natasha! Oops. No way that hat fits on my head.

Beret pattern piece - too narrowWool beret - too small

However, I did discover that if I folded up the hem, I had a cute beret! Natasha’s head is small so that’s not how it looks on my head. On me, it’s more of a “sitting hat” as opposed to one that goes completely around my head. (Uh, another hat for me.)

Small wool beret - hem turned downCute wool beret on mannequin head

A couple drafts later I finally had a cap Kofi liked. I made the pattern piece shorter (below right) so it would fit more closely to the head. That’s the cap Kofi’s wearing in the photo at the top of this post. I was finally done. Whew!

Draft pattern pieces for 6-section cap

Construction issues

The ongoing problem I had with these wool muslins was that this fabric had a rather loose weave so by cutting my pattern pieces on the bias, the finished versions were all wider than the circumference I was aiming for. Darn it.

There is indeed a lot of stretch along the bias so the hats were anywhere from one to two inches too big. This meant a rather loose fit on my husband’s head and making adjustments to the subsequent pattern pieces. The thing you need to remember when you make adjustments to the piece is that your change will be multiplied 6 times. To explain, I’ll use metric measurements – if you make your pattern piece 1 cm smaller (say, 0.5 cm on each curving side), you will be making your cap 6 cm smaller (6 pattern pieces, 0.5 cm per side) in circumference.

Material notes

Wool tweed fabric ($2/yard)
Interfacing – I used what I had on hand – a lightweight as well as a medium weight cotton woven fusible

Brim – I tried a few different things with the brim. I used the same fusible interfacing on the pie pieces of the cap but it needed additional stiffness so I also inserted a couple different things:

Heavyweight craft interfacing

Heavyweight craft interfacing for brim

Heavyweight craft interfacing and quilting mylar (no melt) $4.85 for a 12 x 18 inch (30 cm x 45 cm) sheet.

The mylar gave it a bit more stiffness but using just the craft interfacing was fine too. And I’m sure if I added several rows of top stitching on the brim, that would also have given it more stiffness.

I’m still not sure how to accommodate the bias in a pattern piece for this cap. I made another version last week for my husband in a different wool fabric but it was also a loose weave and I ended up added two darts to take in the excess fabric. If you have any suggestions please comment below. I’d like to create a pattern piece that gives me the size I want!

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Author:Chuleenan

Chuleenan Svetvilas is a writer who sews and collects hats and shoes. She is a fabric addict and loves classic films and vintage clothes.

13 Responses to “Sewing Pattern for a Wool Newsboy Cap and Beret”

  1. Sandra
    June 8, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    Thanks Brook; I have and wear 2 news/jockey hats all the time, everybody likes them. I found a bundle of older “SewNews” and it had a pattern such as yours but it used the bottom of an iron for pattern. Wouldn’t you know it but lost the pattern but still have the bundle of magazines. I need to make some for summer, lighter material, so I went looking and I found your information and the second shorter shape looks the same as mine. My little tiny flowered hat has a band on the outside with trim the brown hat has a label, ‘Lizclaiborne’. I am going to down load what you have , thanks for your information

  2. Kathy Lieberg
    March 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Where can I buy the craft interfacing you use.? My local Joan Fabric store doesn’t carry it. I would like to,order it on line.

    • March 4, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      When you look online, search for sew-in heavyweight craft interfacing. I’m not sure which brand I got. I’m lucky to have a local fabric store – Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics that carries a wide range of interfacing. You might try searching Fabric.com.

  3. February 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I have been looking for a pattern to make a newsboy cap for myself. I love the ones Ralph Lauren has on his models in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. Actually I like RL clothes but only look at them and try to make them myself usually. This cap looks just right. Do you offer a pattern or dimensions? I hope so. Thank you for this blog. I love this cap. It is just what I want to make.

    • February 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      Hi, Logan – thanks for visiting! Glad you like the cap! I drafted this for my husband’s large head. I would still need to make some adjustments to release it as a pattern – and do some more testing with fabric cut on the grainline rather than on the bias. I wasn’t anyone would be interested in the pattern. ;)

  4. October 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    I love this beret style… something to think about :-)

    • October 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Thank you! These hats are simple to make but I wouldn’t recommend cutting the fabric on the bias – unless you want a loose fit. ;)

  5. October 23, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    How awesome! I spend way too much money buying my little one hats. I need to start making them. I love all the ones you wear. So inspiring!

    • October 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks! Your little guy looks so cute in hats! You should start making some for him. You should check out the book Sewn Hats by Carla Hegeman Crim – lots of patterns for little ones in it. I reviewed the book in an earlier post.

  6. October 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    The hat looks great on your husband! I can tell he loves it. He looks like a movie star! =)

    I don’t know that I’ve ever cut a sectioned hat on the bias. Sometimes bands and stuff are cut on the bias, but it does seem tricky to predict the stretch. You did a really nice job and got some fun hats for yourself out of the mockups!

    • October 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks Brooke! I’m sure when I tell my husband your movie star comment he’ll be totally embarrassed! Lol.

      Maybe I shouldn’t have kept cutting it on the bias. Ha! If I make it again I’ll cut it on the straight grain. Or if I’m short of fabric I may actually have enough because of the bias stretch.

      I do have a couple nice caps for myself! Though at the time I did feel a bit guilty that I kept making caps that looked better on me. ;)

  7. October 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    This is fascinating — I don’t know anything about hat making. The finished hat and your husband look very handsome. Nicely done!

    • October 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      Thank you! Glad you found it interesting. After about version five I was getting rather tired of making it. ;)

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