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Jan 5, 2014

The Newsboy Cap Project -- Getting Started



Shall we start the new year by making newsboy caps?

First, let's define terms.  There are many different kinds of men's caps out there, but for me, a classic newsboy has eight panels, a center covered button, and a brim approximately as wide as the wearer's face.  (You can read the wikipedia definition here.)

My preference is for a newsboy with some drape (i.e., a large squat pancake).





The herringbone tweed cap I found at the Salvation Army last week is an eight-panel newsboy, but it's smaller than my other caps, with less drape.  The brim is wider, however -- in fact it's really too wide for my narrow face.  Notice how it sticks out way past the edge of my forehead.



You can see the difference when I place the two caps side by side.



Anyway, today I took the tweed hat apart and made a note of how it is constructed.  I also compared it to the two newsboys I purchased at J.J. Hat Center.













You can view all the construction -- or should I say destruction photos here.

There are a few newsboy cap patterns circulating out there but none of them seems quite right to me -- not enough panels, too wide a brim, etc.  There is a pattern on Etsy I've seen that looks promising, but I haven't tried it out.   As for the Big Four, forget it -- there were plenty of cap patterns over the decades, but not an authentic eight-panel newsboy as far as I can tell.

And so it begins....

I'm not in any rush to do this, so expect posts to be spaced out rather widely -- or not, we'll see.  My next step is to press one of the panels and use it to trace a pattern.

Any success with newsboy -- or other -- cap projects?  Advice/caveats?

Have a great day, everybody!

19 comments:

  1. I've never been a hat guy but 8-panel caps are a go-to for me. I have such an enormous head that when I bought a cap that was labeled "2X," I still had to have it professionally stretched...maybe you're onto something with a custom version! I can't wait to see your progress!

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  2. My husband has been wearing a newsboy cap very similar to the brown tweed you just bought for probably 20 years. It is in very rough shape and I have been looking for a pattern for a long time to make him another one. As you say the big 4 have more of what I consider a golf hat. It doesn't squash down on the sides. If I tried to take his hat apart to make a pattern, he would kill me. Hope it turns out well.

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  3. I've made a bunch of these, including miniature ones for puppets. They're not too difficult, but very gratifying.

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  4. Seth is always looking for a good wool cap and I might actually make one for him. If it works out maybe you can sell the pattern?

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    1. ding, ding, ding...we have a winner!! Peter -- if this works our, you should grade this pattern up (you might check around for most popular head measurements; some guys have extremely large heads - I have some hat blocks for men that are just mind-bogglingly large) and offer it.

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  5. Wow, imagine being able to make one to match every coat! Does that come under too matchy-matchy? (Would I care?)

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  6. I've been loving the new Sherlock series for the bespoke clothing they are using for Sherlock and Mycroft. Even the shoes... worth a look to see the red lapel button hole seemingly worked in silk thread. As I watched, I wondered if you had seen the clothing.

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  8. yep, my husband too has a large head and it's hard to find hats that fit him. I finally found one in a similar style, although it is not paneled like yours. I tried to copy it recently, but it has darts shaping the back half, and I couldn't get them quite right. I'll be following your project to see how it goes Peter. Best of luck :)

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  9. Yes-- I've made a lot of hats for theater and for Ren Faires. It sure helps that you live in New York where you can get the right stuff to do it. I made my own patterns for most of them based on photos of patterns in pattern books. I remember taking a few hats apart and reworking the hat bands-- heads are only one size and there is not a lot of forgiveness in that one measurement. For men, it's not so bad. For women it changes based on hairstyle.

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  10. The hat in the second-from-the top pic appears to be the most flattering; the others simply make your head look like a MUSHROOM. I wouldn't go for too much side-to-side width and "drape" unless you LIKE resembling a boletus! Proportions will be crucial with that long narrow head of yours! The brown hat has far too much material and yes, the brim on the tweed is absurdly wide!

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  11. I have a large head and the newsboy type caps I find are always too small for me. I love the one you show in the second picture. (first picture of you on the post) The drape is perfect for your head and face.

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  12. Looking forward to your newsboy project, as I am in the middle of the same process. I have a newsboy cap that I use, so I had to figure out its construction by okular examination an a few critical measurements. After some tests, I think I have it nailed. My material comes from an old Harris tweed jacket, and whats left after the cap will become a stylish (hopefully) messenger bag with black leather trim (needed urgent)

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    1. Yes, I've been following your progress!

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  13. I'm making one of these for my husband to wear to the Edwardian Ball (from the Burda Pattern) I hadn't even considered size/scale. Man I hope I can pull this off!

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  14. Looking forward to seeing the progress, self-covered buttons leave me quaking (and - last time I tried - with a big dint in my wood floor...)

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  15. Please share the pattern when you are done! My Brit spouse loves a good hat, but they are hard to find for his big head...

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  16. After making hats over the past few decades, and that includes newsboys and baseball types, the most important construction note is to stay the inner band so that will not stretch out of spec. The easiest stay is to use twill tape, but I have seen plastic bands as well as stiff interfacing and buckram.
    A client of mine had some caps made from up-cycled mens wool pants, after the contractor delivered them, the smalls stretched out to larges, of course, no tape in the band. That was before he had my help; hopefully the next batch will be in spec.

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  17. Peter, have you tried Wild Things by Wild Ginger? There's a freebie download.

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