Patchwork Berets from Fabric Scraps

Fabric scraps are the natural by-product of a sewing project. Bags and Bags of fabric scraps are the natural result of many sewing projects and the frugal impulse to keep every potential resource. While these collections of small and irregular pieces tend to be a nuisance, they are usually of beautiful or expensive materials that I could not throw away with good conscience.

My spring cleaning therefore begins with using up these scraps as fast as possible and disposing of the remaining shreds. One easy way to use fabric scraps is to make patchwork berets which are highly individual and as colorful or demure as you choose. My recent hats are very colorful as I have a large variety of small pieces to deal with, but I intend soon to make some with fabric choices limited to one or two tones.

I have two styles of patchwork berets pictured here. Each beret is a 16 inch circle gathered onto a 22 inch band and took less than half of a day to make. The brims are optional and stitched on afterwards. The first beret is composed of truly small scraps of pretty fabrics (velvet, satin, cotton prints, suede, & corduroy) appliquéd to a circle of an ugly blue-green cloth that we once purchased for some inexplicable reason. The stitched edges were concealed by sewing white lace on top, which gives the whole piece a sugary, frosty look. You can use other trims such as ric rac, ribbon, or dimensional fabric paint to cover these edges. I opted for a white satin bow at the top instead of a pom pom (fitting for children) or a silk daisy and finished it off with a pieced together brim and three buttons in different colors.

The second hat is made of five pie-shaped pieces sewn into a circle. I made the pattern on my computer using the simple drawing tools common to word processing programs and added ½ inch to each edge for sewing. I then joined two or tree pieces of scraps to get a piece from which a section could be cut. These five piece were joined, lined with flannel (two leftover pieces joined together) and gathered on a patchwork band. The brim is made from leftover suede, stiffened with iron-on stabilizer. A button tops off the hat.

These hats are possibly too colorful for some people, but they are nice when worn with conservative clothing such as white shirts and coats. They can also be pieced together entirely from scraps of one fabric or the remnants from sewing a garment which becomes a matching accessory. Lining is optional and can add warmth or durability. The flannel pieces I used were from sewing a nightgown and old-fashioned ruffled caps. Other good fabrics for lining hats are: fleece, cottons, satin & faux fur. When you have enough hats for yourself and your family, produce them as Christmas, birthday, and baby gifts, saving the money you would spend buying presents.

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