How to Make a Kepi

Written by kayla lowe
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A kepi is a flat hat containing a flat circular top with a visor and was common during the Civil War era. It was worn by both Union and Confederate soldiers and was either grey or navy, depending on which army was wearing it. The kepi originated in France. However, it has been used by many nations since, including the United States, the British nations, Sweden and others.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fabric pencil
  • Yard of navy or grey felt
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Black thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Warm water
  • Thin cardboard
  • Glossy black spray paint
  • Foot of black faux leather
  • Mini ½ or l inch belt buckle
  • 2 metal brad fasteners
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Draw a 6-inch diameter circle on the felt with the fabric pencil. Cut the circle out with a pair of scissors.

  2. 2

    Measure and cut a felt strip approximately 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. Measure and cut another felt strip approximately 48 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold this strip in half and pin the ends and sides of the strip to hold it in place.

  3. 3

    Sew the folded strip together. Sew along both the left and right sides of the length of the strip using black thread. Sew 1/8 inch away from the edge of the strip, making sure not to sew the top.

  4. 4

    Lay the felt circle flat and line the first inch of the 12-inch edge of the 12-inch strip directly up against the edge of the circle, and pin it in place. Continue to pin each inch of the strip around the circle until the ends of the 12-inch strip overlap. Note that the strip will pop up from the surface of the circle a bit---this is normal. Cut the excess strip where the ends overlap.

  5. 5

    Sew the strip to the circle 1/8 from the edge all the way around the circle and remove the straight pins.

  6. 6

    Flip the circle so that the rough hem is underneath and the smooth hem is on top. Attempt to bend the felt strip that was just sewn onto the circle down. Soak the felt in warm water for several minutes to soften it if it is too stiff to bend at first.

  7. 7

    Retrieve the sewn length of felt that was folded in half, and wrap it around your head, overlapping the ends until it fits snugly. Pin the ends in place, sew the ends together where they overlap and cut off the excess felt to create a hollow, circular rim.

  8. 8

    Place the circular rim on your work surface, and place the felt circle on top of the rim, arranging the seams so that you can push the bent felt strip into the circle rim. Adjust the felt circle so that it sticks up from the rim as much as you wish; the back should have more material sticking up than the front, creating a forward slouch.

  9. 9

    Pin the felt circle to the circle rim, and then hand sew the circle to the rim along the same hem that is already in the rim.

  10. 10

    Cut a cap brim from a piece of thin cardboard, making it about 5 inches wide. Simply cut out the shape of a "D" to cut a cap brim. Cut notches in the straight back inch of the cardboard brim and fold them straight up, and then shape the cap brim by slightly bending the sides down to form a curve. Spray paint the cardboard cap brim with glossy black spray paint and let it dry completely.

  11. 11

    Sew a hem around the cardboard brim to make it appear more realistic, sewing it 1/8 inch from the edge. Place the brim onto the hat so that the notches are underneath the rim of the hat and the brim sticks out of the front of the hat. Either sew or glue the notches to the inside of the hat to secure the brim to the hat.

  12. 12

    Cut a strip of faux leather the length of the cap brim plus 3 inches. Cut the strip in half, and use the metal brads to pin each strip of leather to the rim of the hat directly above the ends of the cap brim. Thread the middle ends of the leather pieces together with a metal belt buckle and apply glue behind the buckle to keep it secured to the hat.

Tips and warnings

  • Pin metal crossfire ornaments to your kepi hat to add additional decoration.
  • Felt is difficult to work with and needs constant reworking, which may require soaking it in warm water several times in order to bend it.

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