The Hat Quilt

My husband is a collector of hats. He has ones with team logos, from places he’s traveled, and gifts from friends and family. We even used hats, strung on a curtain rod, as a window valence in his “man cave.” He weeded out his hats once and put all the ones he knew he wouldn’t wear, but couldn’t bear to throw away, in storage in the attic. After a few years of banishment, I asked him what we should do with the hats. He didn’t know. I had recently caught the quilt making bug so I proposed making a quilt with them. He agreed. Now, I really didn’t have a plan on how to make hats into a quilt but my first step was to cut the logos off the front of the hat and discard the rest. At least that cut down the size of the pile. I put the trimmed hats in the top of my craft closet and promptly forgot about them.

About a year later, I found the hats and decided to make the quilt as a Christmas present for my husband. So I formulated a stealthy plan that required cunning and secrecy. Since it’s hard to hide a quilt frame, I knew I could only work on the quilt when he wasn’t at home. And since it’s impossible to put up and take down a loaded quilt frame on a short term basis, I knew he needed to be gone for an extended time period. Thank goodness for baseball! My husband and two friends go to Florida each March for spring training games and are gone for about ten days. Just the window of time I needed! I put a note in my calendar for the following March to remind me.

In the weeks before they left for Florida, I would get out the hat logos and sort them by size and color, trimming as needed. I did this while he was in the shower. I had to work fast. During this time, I formulated a plan for layout and color scheme. I made trips to the fabric store for supplies so when he left, I was ready to get to work.

Day One: March 1st

  • The boys left for Florida at 6 a.m. I did not start working at that hour. I do have some standards. I began work about 8 a.m.
  • I did some last minute trimming of the logos.
  • I decided on a layout of two nine-block (4” x 4”) squares, two six-block (4” x 6”) squares, and eleven four-block (6” x 6”) squares.
  • I cut the block pieces from a white tone-on-tone print.
  • I laid out the hat pieces on the blocks.
One of the nine-block squares.

Day Two: March 2nd

  • I spent the entire day attaching the logos to the blocks with a stain stitch
  • I planned to sew all the logos on with white thread but decided I didn’t like the finished look so I decided to color match the thread to the logos. The look was much better but required a lot of thread and bobbin changes.
  • I learned that cotton hats create the most strings and lint.
  • I learned that corduroy hats were the stretchiest and should have been ironed onto some interfacing. Live and learn!
The color-matched satin stitching around the logos.
The color-matched satin stitching around the logos.


Day Three: March 3rd

  • I didn’t bother to finish the ends yesterday so I spent the morning tying off the loose threads, trimming the strings, and picking off lots of lint.
  • I sewed the small blocks together to make 12” in blocks
  • Then I went to the fabric store for the B’s: batting, backing, binding, and corner blocks fabric.
  • I cut the fabric being used for the sashing and corner blocks between the 12” blocks.

Day Four: March 4th

  • I assembled the quilt top.
  • I had to decide on a stitching pattern for the quilting. I decided to “stitch in the ditch” that is, the seam lines. I didn’t want to stitch across the logos.
  • I put the layers of quilt top batting and backing fabric on the quilt frame. While this would seem to be a simple step, I always make it more complicated by forgetting how I did it last time and end up winding the top or backing up and have it going the wrong direction. I should really write this down!
  • I started the quilting. I like to hand quilt. It’s labor intensive but the finished product is more special.

Day Five: March 5th

  • Stitch, stitch, stitch. I spent the whole day, morning to night, quilting the top.
  • I managed to get two 12” rows of stitching done.

Day Six: March 6th

  • More stitching! But after a long day and sore fingers, I managed to get the hand quilting of the top done!!!
  • It was a joy to remove the top from the quilt frame.

Day Seven: March 7th

  • I sewed on the binding around the edges of the quilt.
  • I threw the whole thing in the washer. While this might seem harsh, it actually makes the finished product look better. It removes the quilting lines and makes the stitching more decorative. The non-stitched areas puff up a little, too.

Day Eight: March 8th

  • I made a label for the quilt stating who made it, when it was made, who it was for, and the method of construction, machine or hand sewing.
  • It was finished!! And two days early!

Now all I had to do was wait. I hid the quilt in my secret spot and came up with a story for how I spent my time during the last week.   The quilt did make a few appearances. I showed it to family and friends when my husband wasn’t around. Everybody was in on the secret. On Christmas morning, when I gave him the package, he said, “Oh, I know what this is.” I said, “No, you don’t.” He was truly speechless when he pulled it out of the wrapping. I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think?

The finished quilt.
The finished quilt.



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