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How to Make African Hats for Men

Updated February 21, 2017

An African men's hat style called the kufi has straight sides and a round top. They are often made of African kente cloth or custom-made to match a formal outfit. Creating a custom-made hat ensures the proper fit and look. They are easy to make out of a small amount of fabric and are light and comfortable to wear.

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  1. Measure around the head at the point where you want the lower edge of the hat to hit.

  2. Cut pieces of both fabric and interfacing with a length equal to the head measurement you took in Step 1, plus 1 1/4 inch. The width of the piece should be 5 1/4 inch for a 4-inch tall hat. This will form the sides of the hat. Interfacing adds stiffness and body to garments.

  3. Calculate the diameter of the circle for the top of the hat by dividing the head measurement by 3.14 and adding 1 1/4 inch for seam allowances.

  4. Make a paper pattern for the top of the hat by drawing a circle with a compass. Set the compass radius at 1/2 the diameter you calculated in the previous step.

  5. Cut a circle of both fabric and interfacing using the pattern.

  6. Pin the fabric side piece to the interfacing side piece with the right sides together. Sew along one long edge with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

  7. Press the seam allowance toward the interfacing. Fold this piece so the wrong sides of the fabric and interfacing are together and press the seam flat. Be sure no interfacing is showing on the right side.

  8. Pin the short edges of the hat sides together with the right sides together. Sew with a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Turn right side out and press this seam open. You will have a topless hat. Try the hat on to check the fit. Turn the hat wrong side out again.

  9. Baste the fabric circle to the interfacing circle for the top of the hat. Place the wrong sides together and baste around the edge with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

  10. Pin the top of the hat to the sides of the hat with the right sides together clipping curves as necessary. The hat will be wrong side out at this point.

  11. Sew the top of the hat to the sides. Use the basting seam as a guide. Clip curves and remove the basting thread. Turn the hat right side out and press.

  12. Tip

    Interfacing is available at fabric stores. Use regular interfacing, not iron-on interfacing, with delicate fabrics.


    Use a low iron and a pressing cloth when working with silk and other delicate fabrics.

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Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Heavyweight interfacing
  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Paper
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine

About the Author

Camela Bryan

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.

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