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Patterns of the Past: Creating a Classic Newsboy Cap

Threads Digital Ambassador Peter Lappin created a professional-looking newsboy cap by applying important construction and finishing techniques to a a vintage McCall's pattern.

I am a big fan of newsboy caps, which I think flatter my somewhat long and narrow face. I own an assortment of store-bought caps, but I have long wanted to sew my own: a good-quality newsboy cap made from Irish tweed or Italian wool can cost $100 or more.

A self-drafted newsboy cap

A few years back, I tried my hand at cap-making, using a thrift store newsboy I disassembled to draft a pattern. I traced the pieces—actually, just one of the eight crown panels, as I mistakenly believed that the crown consisted of identical panels—and did my best to construct the cap. The result, while attractive, wasn’t right. The hat was too pancake-shaped; the lining was too thick, which puffed up the pancake; and the inner band, just a piece of grosgrain ribbon, was too flimsy.

I had assumed the eight panels in the crown of a newsboy cap were identical in shape. They are not.

My first attempt at a newsboy cap was respectable but too puffy.
I also made a version using leather harvested from an old sofa. It was too stiff to wear comfortably.

A commercial newsboy cap pattern

More recently, I purchased vintage 1992 McCall’s 6289, a men’s accessories pattern that included an eight-panel newsboy cap. I wondered how the cap pattern was drafted and how the cap construction was explained. It was disappointing to discover the instructions did not mention staying the inside seam or finishing the inside edge with a sturdy band. It’s not unusual for commercial patterns to skip steps that could give home-sewn clothes a professional-looking finish.

McCall’s 6289 is from 1992, which seems like yesterday. But it qualifies as vintage.


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  1. User avater
    somiio | | #1

    In French millinery, we use a gros grain ribbon to form the inside band of a woman hat. It is the Haute Couture option. The gros grain is also steam shaped into a curve to fit the head better. The gros grain has quite a bit of give and can be shape very easily, especially if it is in cotton as per tradition.

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