17 June 2011

Cowgirl Crafts: sewing elastic into a hat

I'm here!  Mostly, anyway.  Even though it's not officially summer yet, things are already crazy.  It feels like I'm busy all day, but I don't have much to write about.  I'm busy with a whole lot of nothing, I guess.

June means cow work.  We gather and ship our cows home from their winter residence and then a few weeks later, we brand the calves.  My past few absences have been for the shipping, and next Saturday will be the branding.  It's a big day and takes a lot of preparation, so I'll be heading back to the ranch for most of next week to assist with food prep.  My little man is excited to once again take part in the big gather before the branding, which will take place on Friday this year.

In preparation for our big weekend, I've been working fast and furious on a few projects that I had hoped to finish a long time ago.  I've finished one, the other... might not get finished in time.  We'll see. I've been spending every spare minute working on them, which is why I haven't been blogging much lately.  My computer time has turned into work time. 

My first project was making some hats fit the girls.  I found these great hats at the second hand store, but they were just a bit too big.  I tried fixing a string to hold it on, (called a stampede string) but those Wyoming winds are just too powerful.  My little man's hat has fit his head for several years because of some elastic sewn into it.  I decided to try to replicate that in the girls' hats.

I bought some 1 1/2" sports elastic and began the process of trying to estimate how much stretch it needed to have.  It became extremely difficult after the kids went to bed.  Plus, I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing.  This seems to be an over-arching theme to my projects.  The first one seemed to turn out well, but the baby won't leave it on long enough to see if it will stay on.  That's confusing, I know.  The plan is for her to grow into it and for it to grow with her.

I had the elastic pulled too tight for the dancing girl's head the first few times I sewed it, but I think this time I got it right.  Sewing a piece of elastic into a palm leaf hat is not all that easy.  You can't pin it in place and I couldn't sew it together on the machine, so here's what I did... just in case you find yourself needing to stitch elastic into a hat...

Find the "middle" of the elastic ring by folding it in half and marking it somehow.  Then fold it in half again to get the sides.  Mark as best you can the front, back and side points on the hat and make some quick stitches to hold the elastic in place.  I added four more of these around the hat.  Then, start sewing the elastic down to the hat.  Of course I ran out of thread when I only had an inch left to sew, but that's the way things go around here.

All done!  It's not beautiful, but it will keep the hat on her head and the sun off her nose.

My other project is also cowboy related.  It's a saddle blanket.  For those who don't speak cowboy, the saddle blanket goes between the horse and the saddle.  It keeps the horse's back from rubbing or getting pinched by the saddle.  A wool saddle blanket, or saddle pad is something that works well for the job and this type is particularly good.  It is made by weaving wool roving into a latch hook rug canvas.  The wool forms to the horse's back and felts in that shape.  Once it has felted, not much can destroy it.  Except pack-rats.  I made one of these for my husband years ago and some pack rats moved in and decided to eat the canvas.  They left the wool alone, but the blanket fell apart.  I was hoping to have this one done before the branding, but it just might not make it.  Hard to work on with the little one playing in the wool roving.  Hopefully it will look good when it's all finished... if I ever finish it...  I have several other projects that I want to work on, but I have to finish this one first.


  1. Well it looks like you are a pretty handy cowgirl! I would have never even known how to fix those hats. My son wears cowboy hats and always has to special order them because he has such a big head.