The flat cap was a style of head covering popular during the European Renaissance between 1525 and 1585 A.D. During the renaissance period these hats were commonly referred to as bonnets. The modern term flat cap derives from the hats shape. The caps are designed so that the upper most portion is made of thicker material that shapes it and keeps it absolutely flat. These hats were worn by members of every social class, both young and old, male and female. During the renaissance these caps were commonly knitted, but today most are sewn.
Select a material for the cap. Heavy materials like upholstery cloths are not recommended because they make the brim of the hat overly bulky. Consider using a thin tapestry, silk, velvet or wool. You will also need cotton, linen, or silk lining and a layer of heavy felt.
Make a pattern. Because flat caps are customised to fit the wearers head circumference, a customised pattern must be created. Butcher paper comes in large plain white sheets or on a roll, and can be purchased at your local grocery store. This paper is ideal for creating a paper pattern.
Measure the head circumference of the person you are making the hat for. Draw a circle with this circumference onto your paper. Use a compass to create circles that are more exact. If you want the hat to fit snuggly, draw line a half inch inside this one, to give a seam allowance.
Draw a second circle around the first to form the brim of the hat. The brim should be 3 inches wide, so the circle must have a diameter 6 inches wider than that of the first circle. The brim of the finished hat will be slightly less than 3 inches, because of seam allowances.
Draw a third circle outside of the second. This will form the crown of the hat. It should be 6 inches wider in diameter than the second circle.
Cut around the crown line, or the outer circle on your patter. Cut one crown out of felt, one crown out of your main material, and one crown out of the lining material.
Stay stitch the three layers of the crown together, with the felt sandwiched between the outer material and the lining.
Trim away the crown ring from your pattern, cut inside the line that represents the head circumference, and outside the line that represents the brim. This will result in a doughnut shaped pattern, and is the brim of the hat with a head opening.
Cut two brims from the outer cloth, and one from the felt. You can also add a layer of buckram to the brim to provide extra stiffness.
Stitch around the outside of the brim, connecting all three (or 4) layers.
Turn the brim so that the right side of the outer material is showing on both sides of the brim. Iron the brim flat.
Top stitch around the outside of the brim, and stay stitch the head hole to hold the cloth in place.
Stitch around the crown using a heavy thread. Your stitches should be long, and running. It is essential that a single thread be used to stitch all the way around the cap.
Pull the string used to stitch around the crown to gather your cap. This should give the crown a pleated look. Continue to pull the string until the crown's opening is the same size as the head home in your brim.
Stitch the crown to the brim. Use bias tape over the joint to give the inside of the cap a more finished look.