Today’s tutorial is how to make a beanie from sweater knit fabric and is a great first time project for working with knits . For my beanies I used a cotton, cable knit sweater from the thrift store. However, the rules and steps for this tutorial apply to working with knits in general. So, feel free to try this beanie tutorial out on whatever knit fabric strikes your fancy.
With a little one on the way I wanted to try my hand at sewing with knits learn how to make beanies for her to wear. I decided to start with a beanie for myself because I haven’t sewn with knits very much and it seemed like making something larger than a tiny baby hat for my first project would increase my chances of success. I chose a $4 thrift store sweater for my first experiment. This way if I messed up my beanie it wouldn’t be a huge loss, but if I was successful I would have something cool to wear.
Spoiler alert: I ended up with something cool to wear and a matching beanie for Princess Peach! We’ll file this one in the “Things I Never Thought I Would Do and Think Were Fun” category. But seriously, we are going to look totally cute in our matching beanies. It will almost be spring here in NC and already getting hot outside when she arrives but I don’t care. We will rock our matching beanies like the cutest mother-daughter pair there ever was.
If you want to make a beanie of your own, I highly recommend starting with an old sweater like I did and seeing how it goes. It was a great way to experiment with a new fabric and test my machine out. Knits have a reputation of being difficult to work with due to their stretch. I found this to be true but it certainly wasn’t insurmountable and I encourage you to give it a try.
My next blog post will be about working with knits and general tips to help you troubleshoot your machine and fabric.
How To Make a Beanie
- A thrift store sweater
- Measuring tape
- Paper for a template
- Pencil or pen
- Pattern weights (If you don’t have actual pattern weights, you can use anything that is heavy and will keep your pattern steady. For example, I use paper weights.)
- Scissors for cutting paper
- Scissors for cutting fabric
- Coordinating polyester threads
- Sewing machine
- Standard or walking foot
- Ballpoint sewing machine needle or jersey needle of appropriate size
- Optional: Buttons or other embellishment
- Optional: Double-sided sewing tape
- Optional: Fusible knit stabilizer
- Optional: hand sewing needle and thread
Step 1: Measure your head
Using your measuring tape, measure the circumference of your head (mine was 21″). Next measure from the crown of your head to the base of your neck and then from the crown of your head to about the middle of your forehead. The distance from my crown to the base of my neck and from my crown to my forehead weren’t quite the same, but they were close. I played around with the measurement a little and decided that 7.5″ would be a good measurement for the height of my pattern pieces.
Step 2: Make a Paper Template
To make your template, take your head circumference measurement and subtract 2″. For me that equaled 19″. Now, divide that number by 2 to get your final width measurement for your pattern pieces. For me, that was 9.5″. So, my final measurements were 9.5″ wide by 7.5″ tall for my template.
On your paper draw a rectangle to your measurements, like so:
Next, fold your paper in half short sides together. Draw a curve from the very top of the fold down the side of the paper to make a curve. Trim to give a “hat” shape. You may find it helpful to use a small plate or bowl to help you get a rounded edge.
Step 3: Cut your pattern pieces and pin right sides together
Place your template at the bottom of the sweater, so that the bottom seam or ribbing will be the brim of your hat. This not only looks cool when it’s done, but it also keeps you from having to hem the bottom of your hat.
If your sweater curves a little at the bottom and isn’t straight across, that’s okay. It won’t make a difference in the finished product.
Use your pattern weights to hold your pattern piece in place while you cut. You can use pins if you need to, but it will be much easier if you weigh the pattern down.
Your fabric pieces should look something like this when you’re done cutting.
Place your pattern pieces right sides together and pin.
Step 4: Sew your beanie
For this step, it is best to experiment on a test strip of fabric first and troubleshoot any issues you are having.
Use a scrap of you material and experiment with:
- sizes of needles
- presser feet-usually an all-purpose/zigzag foot or walking foot will work best
- stitches-a zigzag stitch or a stretch stitch work well
- upper thread tension-will likely need to be a little looser than normal
What you find works best for your project will depend on the thickness and stretch of your fabric and fiber content. In my next post I will discuss some basics of sewing with knits, some tips for troubleshooting and a few tools that can help you get the results you’re looking for.
For the material I was working with, which was a cotton cable knit, I found that a zigzag stitch with my all-purpose foot and a tension of -2 worked for me. One thing I will do differently next time is use a stabilizer around the seams to give a little support and make it easier to sew straight. My seams were a little crooked, and I did go back and straighten some of them up so the hat would look even from the outside.
Sew around the hat, leaving the bottom open of course, at a 1/2″ seam allowance. Trim 1/8″.
Step 5: Embellish
If you like, sew on some buttons or a flower or another fun little pretty to spice up your hat.
I decided to sew a few buttons on the front of my hat to fancy it up a bit. Because the fabric was stretchy and tends to shift a bit when handled, I went ahead used a little double-sided sewing tape to help keep the buttons in place while I sewed them on. This step isn’t necessary, but it does help if you’re having a hard time keeping your buttons where you want them. I used a hand sewing needle and thread.
And you’re all done!