Wednesday 15 May 2013

Child's Medieval Straw Hat

I didn’t think I’d have anything for the HSF’s ninth challenge, Flora and Fauna, but this morning I realized I did! A very small project, but still.

I want medieval straw hats for all of us to wear at sunny events. There are pictures of straw hats beeing used by farmers at harvest through the centuries.

  Maciejowski Bible, French (?) mid 13th century - way too early for us.

 Tacuinum Sanitatis, Italian, c. 1390-1400.

 Great Bible, Britain (?), c. 1405-15.

Last week I found a straw hat in a charity shop that would fit little B. It was your average little girls straw hat, with a round crown, and a brim angling out from it at a ninety degree angle. It was undecorated, but had a petersham band on the inside. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it before refashioning it, which feels really stupid.

I took off the petersham, wet the hat, and when it was pretty much soaked, I put it over a plastic covered wooden bowl I thought had a good shape. I worked the hat a bit to make it shape itself to the bowl, and to make the brim angle down slightly. When I was satisfied with the shape, I let it rest on the bowl for a couple of hours. I then took it off and put it upside down, to encourage the hat to keep the flat crown, and let it dry over night. The crown was still a bit damp in the morning, so I turned it right side up .

After drying it looked just like I’d envisioned, and fit B very well, with room to grow. Little B loves it, which helped a lot when he wore it last weekend to a medieval fair we visited. I added a wool cord to it, to prevent it getting lost.

The Challenge: # 9 Flora and Fauna


None. I looked at pictures of medieval straw hats, and tried to imitate them.

Late 14th century.

Twisted wool cord, from my stash.

How historically accurate is it?
Tolerably. The rough shape is seen on medieval straw hats, but it’s sewn with plastic tread. Shudder. I intend to restitch it with linen thread when there’s time, but in the meantime, the plastic only shows if you look really close.

Hours to complete:
Maybe five to ten minutes to cut off the petersham, soak and reshape. One minute to add the cord, that was a left over from another project.

First worn:
For the pictures.

Total cost:
20 SEK ($3; £2; €2,3).


  1. Thank you for this post which I came across when searching for medieval sun hats! I am nålbindning at the moment (I don't know if you have come across that, the pre-curser to knitting and crochet and - in my opinion - one of the secrets of the universal popularity of knitting and crochet! as Nålbindning is slow, rather boring and monotonous!)

    I need to produce Viking era socks for a couple of events that my family are attending this summer and keep being distracted by other projects that I could use the technique for - as I said I'm finding it rather boring!

    Sun-hats have been the distraction of the day! and whereas there are lots of simple 'skull cap' pictures on the internet your picture of a straw hat has been the sort of style I was thinking of ... I'll have to see if my 'Viking Expert' friends consider it acceptable but I would like our hats to have a brim if permitted!

    Thanks, Helen

  2. I do know nålbindning :) If I understand you correctly you want to make a nålbunden sun hat? I doubt that is correct for viking age (a period I did a few years ago), but I'm not an expert in that era...


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