Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Trove Pattern Project: 1954 Scarf Hat

Today I'm reviewing another free hat pattern from The Australian Women's Weekly, this one from the 14th of July, 1954. It's from the "Teenage section" and it promises the "chic of a head-hugging cap with the practical advantages of a scarf" and that I can "make it in less than an hour" for a cost of "next to nothing".

I'll let you be the judge of the chic-ness and practicality, but it certainly takes less than an hour and, if you are already a sewer and have small scraps to use up, it will probably cost you actually nothing.

You can see the original pattern here (it's worth checking out just for what appears to be ice hockey fabric).


"You will need a piece of material 23 inches square. Printed silk or jersey would be most suitable, but use any material you fancy."
  • You are likely to need to size the pattern up, as I did. In which case, you will need closer to 24 inch of width to make the pattern in the larger size, cut on the straight grain (they don't actually talk about grain, so I made that assumption). If you don't care about grain, you can work with as small as 21 inches square.
  • I used a lightweight cotton for the first trial, a silk for the second, and a medium weight cotton for the third.
  • You also need to make a roll. They say "a roll of cotton wool". I assume they mean sewing and stuffing a sausage shape but I just used some thin cotton quilting batting cut into a rectangle, and rolled up lengthwise. They also say that it should be 2.5 inches in diameter, but looking at all the images, it couldn't possibly be that size. Not even close! Whether that is a typo or measurement fail I don't know, but my first attempt was about 1 inch diameter, then I actually scaled it down again to about half an inch.


The pattern is a sector of a circle, in the original the measurements are radius 21 inch and arc length 23 inch.

I made the hat at these dimensions - too small (looked very cute on a baby, though). My head measurement is 22.5 inches, but my friend who described herself as a "pin head" couldn't fit into it, and it was only slightly too big for a 10-month old. I made my second version with an arc length of 25 inches, and the third was about 27 inches That may seem like a lot, but it includes seam allowance, and the fabric is going to be rolled over at the base, so it will be a shorter length at the point where it is worn.

Note that the pattern sketch in the article is VERY much "not to scale". It looks like a thin slice of pizza, instead of the quite generous serving that the actual pattern will be (even at the original dimensions).

Drafting the pattern (if you aren't Mathsy)

  1. Draw one side of your sector, a 21 inch straight line.
  2. Mark one end as the centre.
  3. Draw the arc. Either put a pin in your tape measure and use is like a pair of compasses, or mark at intervals using tape measure or ruler, and connect the dots.
  4. You can measure your arc length along this line. Measuring a curve can be tricky, so I did some maths instead, and used a protractor. The angle you want is 63 degrees for the 23 inch length, 68 degrees for the 25 inch length, or 74 degrees for 27 inches.
  5. Mark the other side of the sector by drawing a straight line from the centre to the arc at the required distance/angle.


The instructions are pretty brief, so I had to wing it a bit, but on the other hand it is a very simple project.
  • I used a sewing machine to sew the back seam, pinked the seam allowance and pressed the seams open. 
  • For the sewing of the roll I hand stitched quickly and roughly. The instructions specifically said "sew them neatly together" but apparently I still have some obnoxious rebelliousness in me, because my immediate thought was "Don't tell me what to do!" and I couldn't have sewn much more messily if I tried.

  • For attaching the rolled over fabric to itself over the roll at the base, I hand-stitched using backstitch, and keeping the outside stitches very small to reduce their visibility. I actually didn't finish the raw edge until the final version, which I pinked before sewing and found to be an easy option and quite sufficient in my opinion.

  • Finish by tying a knot in the end. I played around a bit, especially with the stiffer silk fabric, to get it to fall just the way I wanted.


Depending on how well the size fits, you may want to use some clips or bobby pins or hat pins to secure the cap to your hair. The biggest version stays on my head fine, but the slightly smaller one would require something to stop it sliding off.

So there you have it. One chic scarf hat.

I'm very excited about continuing this project and sharing more of these free projects with you. This is definitely one of the simpler designs, although it needed more alteration than I expected, and there are many fascinating and elegant designs, as well as other simple ones, to come!

If you are after more for now, last year I reviewed and gave some brief advice on the "Butterfly Cap", also from the AWW in 1954.

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  1. That print looks wonderful!

    During my AWW trawl for my thesis, I was amazed at how grown up the teenagers looked in the 40s and 50s and how the fashion advice was aspiring to a sophisticated "yet youthful" look that didn't resonate that way with me at all. Fascinating how what is youthful in that sense has changed.

    1. Thank you for it :) It was ridiculously satisfying to add it to my stash and use it right away! Something that never happens, right?

      Yes. I wonder if they really did look that glamorous, or if the magazine images are as deceptive as today. I suppose that the youth culture movement of the fifties and sixties was a reaction to that sort of projection of adult sophistication onto young people.

  2. I can't decide what I think of this. Theoretically, it's very cute and pixie-ish, but at the same time, it reminds me a bit of one of those old fashioned nightcaps. I have to say, it looks rather adorable on you, though, so maybe I could be won over.
    I remember the post about the butterfly cap! I still love it, and I still haven't made it. Someday, maybe.

    1. Look, once I put in on Teacup I realised how much it looked like a baby hat. They often have that tied knot at the top. And I felt a bit like some kind of psychedelic Christmas elf in the colourful one.

      I honestly like a lot of the other patterns more, but it was a nice simple one to start with. I love the butterfly cap, but I still haven't made more myself either. It did take a lot more time than this one!

  3. I like this hat but think it might be quite hard to wear so perhaps it makes sense that it is a teenage style. It does sound like you had to do quite a bit of guessing and altering, got to love a vintage pattern for that!

    1. I hear that vintage knitting and crochet patterns are much worse! So many variables in tools and materials and tension and all that!

    2. Yes, vintage knitting patterns can be quite entertaining. I particularly like the ones that have two sides of instructions for the right hand side of a cardigan and the instructions for the left are just a sentence saying repeat and reverse everything you do before!

    3. "Repeat in reverse" sounds like an alarming instruction!

  4. Super lovely! I must say, and this is almost surprising (to me) actually, but I don't have any scarf hats. I've long admired them in vintage magazines, movies and the like, but don't own a one. We don't see a ton on the vintage selling (or wearing) scene, which is a shame, because they really are darling. Chic and whimsical at the same time - always a massively winning combination in my books. :)

    Thank you for shining the well deserved spotlight on this style and sharing some of your own handmade beauties with us, dear Tanith.

    Tons of hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* I utterly adored your latest newsletter. You are absolutely hitting it out of the ballpark with each and every one of them.

    1. Thank you, Jessica, and I'm glad you are enjoying the newsletter too! And there will be a lot more gorgeousness on the vintage-hat-pattern front soon :)

  5. This is super cute Tanith! Not sure if it's my cup of tea, it reminds me a bit too much of a baby cap! But then again, you changed my mind about pillboxes, so who knows right??!

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    1. Yeah it's hard to get past that! But there will be some pillbox patterns coming up, you'll be pleased to hear!


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