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how to make $200 on a Saturday night... ;)
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A local Harry Potter fan has commissioned me to make him a Sorting Hat for $200! Woohoo!





Nathania borrowed a bunch of my Harry Potter props last fall for a window display at her fiber arts store Commuknity. A store patron saw my Sorting Hat in the window & wanted one of his own, so Nathania gave him my email. He asked if I'd be able to make a Sorting Hat for them, but that was literally days before my offer was accepted on my house, which started a whirlwind of tons off stuff I had to do, with no time to make a Sorting Hat so I didn't reply until recently. When I happened across a perfect old brown leather jacket and then actually found my good fabric stiffener when I unpacked enough, I finally replied, apologizing profusely for the delay, but how about $200 if they'd still like me to make them a Sorting Hat? He & his wife are such fans that they are customizing a Harry Potter room in their house, including a contractor doing custom woodwork to be a Gryffindor dorm room and a pedestal specifically to display the Sorting Hat!

Of course, when I was trying to make my pirate hat for my Mardi Gras costume, my sewing machine was acting up so badly I was afraid I might have to buy a new one soon, but it's also faked me out before by scaring me like that, only to fix itself and magically start working again without me able to tell what if anything made any difference. Late Friday night I got the creativity bug that I might as well start the Sorting Hat, so I got the whole leather jacket cut apart & the pieces of the hat & interfacing cut out, but yes, my sewing machine was horrid! After a bit of tinkering, including removing a part entirely in the tension mechanism, it would sew normal fabric perfectly fine, but still refused to catch any stitch on the thin leather. This jacket leather is thinner than denim, and my machine sewed my Avengers catsuit, my Amazon Goddess costume and my original Sorting Hat just fine before. I even tried taking out my antique treadle sewing machine just in case I could get it to work, but after very carefully using the 100-year-old fragile paper instruction booklet to figure out the bobbin & the threading, I still couldn't get that one to catch any stitches either, so after two hours of frustration fighting with both sewing machines, I gave up for the night...ARGH!

After venting to my mom, since she bought this machine as refurbished back when I was little, my best plan seemed to be to try to take my machine in to a local store & compare the cost to repair vs. a refurbished machine, but I was going to the SVGMC concert in the afternoon. Since we didn't get back from the concert until 4:45 & I was pretty sure the Singer place closed at 5pm on Saturday, I weeded a bit in my yard until my fingers & toes were frozen & it was too dark anyway, then I tried sewing again. It seemed like it was kind of working if the needle was to the left instead of the middle or the right (why that matters for leather I have no idea but I was trying everything!), but then something got stuck & was messing up even on the test strips that had been working, tangling bobbin thread in great gobs everywhere inside the base, so I took everything out & doused inside there with silicone spray. After that, I tested on the test strip & that was okay again, so I started on the leather which was acting reasonably, but I kept having to backstitch when I could hear the stitches not catching. After awhile, it even started going for long stretches just fine without having to backstitch. Maybe it heard me complaining & it didn't want to go to the Singer store like some pets are afraid to go to the vet. ;)

Here are the step-by-step photos...


Jacket lining already cut away from rest of the jacket. Brim lining has just been cut.



Jacket back without sleeves. The center back will become the top brim.



A single jacket sleeve is usually not the correct proportion for the hat cone, so some of the other sleeve adds height and the bend at the top of the cone. You must sew the extra sleeve piece flat to the top of the other sleeve before sewing up the edge of the cone.



The hat cone is fully-stitched together but still wrong-side out.



Brim & lining stitched together at the outside hem but turned right-side out. I cut the center hole after sewing the outside hem.



Pinning the hat cone to the brim.



Sorting Hat formed into shape with face wrinkles safety-pinned in place.



Sorting Hat thoroughly doused with fabric stiffener, waiting to dry...


So, now the new Sorting Hat is all gooped up & drying on my kitchen table, which might take a few days since it's still so chilly! Then I can just put in the interfacing, then handstitch the linings in & make sure they're fixed to the brim, then I'm done. Since that's handstitching, though, I'm sure it will take another 2 hours to finish completely, which means my original 5 hour estimate would be right on target. :)


Hope your weekends are going well!