How are all the caps made?

A bit more about cap making for those curious and how the caps available for sale here are made.

All the caps sold at the capalog are tailored from scratch. That means that the original shape comes from a paper pattern and a shape that I've sketched out. Once the pattern is fine tuned, all the fabric pieces are cut out and machined on the wee bernina sewing machine in house.

All the caps ordered are made to order in small weekly sustainable batches.

Flat lay image of a cap being cut out using pattern pieces

Essentially the final 3D shape of the cap comes from the specific shape of each 2D fabric piece and how they all go together. This along with other factors such as the type and quality of the fabric and what stitch is used, create the final shape. Might sound like it goes without saying, wording it this way, but it's the difference between all the specific shapes, that's where the main detail in the craft is and what I'm obsessed with!

Side view of raspberry pink canvas panel cap


For example the basic cap is a panel cap, it is constructed from 4 panels of fabric for the crown and a peak, sewn from two more fabric pieces. 

There are soo sooo many ways to make crown shapes. Let alone peak shapes.

Segment caps, where the crown is made up from fabric pieces that all meet at one point are a totally different crown shape too. These can be made from 6, 8 or more rarely 10 pieces. Generally mostly an even number, but there are definitely more creative segment crowns out there. The specific amount allows more volume and shape to be added. Add more segments and you can add more volume of fabric and therefore increase the 3D shape, but even the slight addition has the power to vastly alter the shape, especially if it is repeated on each segment. There's a lot of fun to be had in creating new shapes!

Teal cloche cap made from denim Birds eye view of Teal denim cloche cap and the button detail

Segment crowns can also be used to make flatcaps too. For example, the classic flatcap style which peaky blinders are known for, is made from a segment crown, which allows for the distinctive shape and volume to go out, rather a flatcap shape which is snug next to the head for example.

As for sizing.. All the caps from the capalog are available to order in sizes XS-4XL. That means each cap is made bespoke to your head-size and for each style, there are multiple duplicate paper patterns too. The difference between each size is half an inch, here anyway. This is called size grading and half an inch is how the capalog cap sizes are graded.

(There are multiple versions and formats of cap sizes though, for a size conversion chart click here.)

Size chart of head sizes for ordering a cap

From a cap-making point of view, that means before I make each cap order, one of the starting points is the head-size and I monitor the cap size as I go along, sewing each stage. The thickness of each layer of fabric, such as linings or headbands alter the final head-size. It's not as simple as cutting the cap fabric pieces to the final cap size.

Caps are essentially oval and the rules of diameters and circumferences for circles come into play quite a lot. So for example if I add a tiny measurement to the radius the circumference goes up, which is the head-size. Remember the half inch difference between head-sizes? To maintain the final head-size each stage has to be sewn REALLY accurately. That means lots of charts of measurements and pre-empting and measuring for me! But again this is just a part of my craft and something I find STUPIDLY immensely satisfying, when it all lines up?! 

Measuring the head size of a cap

As the capalog is run as a sustainable brand and all the caps are made in small batches, caps are only made to order. So offering caps made in more sizes is something that can be facilitated really easily. Another plus for being sustainable.

From working as a theatrical milliner I KNOW how many different head-sizes there are and have a good solid idea of how they vary and how many times a certain head-size comes up for example. Once you've made the same style cap or hat for every member of a gents chorus, of 15-20 peeps too, you can see the range of sizes and be a geek about head-sizes!

As head size is always one of the starting points too of working as milliner, it's like second nature and seems integral to me to make something to someone's head-size. Even if it means drafting and drawing out more cap paper patterns..! 100% worth it.

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  • Headgearbd on

    Hi The Capalog team! I just read your blog post about how cap patterning works, and I have to say, I found it really fascinating. As someone who loves hats and is always curious about the design process, I appreciated the detailed explanation you provided about how patterns are created and used in cap manufacturing.

    One thing I liked about your post was how you highlighted the different methods of patterning, from hand-drawn sketches to digital design software. It’s cool to see how technology has changed the way patterns are created and modified over time. I also appreciated the way you explained how the pattern is transferred onto the fabric, and the different types of machines and techniques used to cut and sew the fabric into the final cap shape.

    I particularly enjoyed your discussion of the different types of patterns used in cap design, from traditional stripes and checks to more complex designs like camo and floral prints. It’s interesting to see how different patterns can evoke different moods or styles, and how they can be used to create a cohesive brand identity.

    Overall, your post was a great introduction to the world of cap patterning, and I learned a lot about the design process. Thanks for the informative and engaging read – I’ll definitely be looking at my own hat collection with a new appreciation for the work that goes into creating each one!

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