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I would like to make a hat that looks roughly like this one but I'm clueless on how to go about with it.

I need it to be from a material that does not keep heat much (compared to, say, felt) and that won't deteriorate if it gets damp (like paper does). I thought I might use rough canvas, but I'm not sure if it will stay in shape if just sewn. So:

  1. What would be a suitable cloth material to use? Would canvas be alright?

  2. How do I make it stay in shape without making it too thick — should I use wire or fishing cord, do I need something to make the cloth stiffer (if so, what would it be), would sewing it properly be enough?

hat

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I have some experience with canvas hats. I owned a Real Deal (hatmaker from Brazil) for several years. They're made from old canvas tarps, like the ones used to cover truck payloads.

Canvases has its advantages over felt. It is slightly more breathable, and wicks moisture away a little bit better. It's a marginal improvement over felt. The greatest advantage is in durability. With reasonable use and care, canvas will last for years. Mine survived about 4 years of heavy abuse.

For heat control, eyelets will be helpful, especially high up near the top.

To help the top of the hat keep it's shape without making it too thick, there's stuff called boning that is used in fitted dresses and corsets. Its a thin plastic mesh that adds stiffness without adding significant weight. Asking around at a fabric store will put you on the right track.

Perhaps the easiest way to help the brim keep its shape is a piece of wire. You can cut it to fit and then secure it to the edge of the brim with bias tape. To keep the tips of the wire from poking through the tape, you can tie them together with dental floss, a heavy dab of epoxy or if you have the ability, welding the tips together.

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I've had good luck making hats from rough canvas. Fishing cord works great!

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    This answer would be greatly improved if you fleshed it out a bit more. – walrus Jul 31 '18 at 21:53

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