How to line a handknit hat

OK, I did lie a little bit when I said there would be no more knitted hats for a while. After yesterday's post about James's new hat, I had a couple of people ask how exactly I would go about lining it. So I thought I'd photograph the process today and post about it.

I started with a piece of cotton jersey knit, about twice as big as the hat. You could use cotton interlock or ribknit, too (it just needs to have the stretch). I happened to have that jersey. (If you're confused about the different knits out there, as I was, here's an explanation.)

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Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Be sure it's folded in a way that gives you the most stretch from side to side. Place the hat flat on the fabric, with the forehead up against the fold. The fold will be the most smooth and comfortable part, so it should be in the front. (Obviously this exact cutting layout really only matters if the hat actually has a "front", such as with an earflap hat.)

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Trace around the hat with a marking pen.

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Cut out, leaving some seam allowance. You're actually going to stitch just inside the marked line, so the seam allowance doesn't have to be perfect.

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Using a ball-point needle and a stretchy machine stitch, sew around the top and back, staying just inside the marked lines.

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Place inside the hat, wrong sides together. This is, really, the trickiest part of the whole project. If you can get the actual wearer of the hat or someone with a similarly shaped head to be your model, it makes it easier.

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You can slip the lining and the hat onto their head and oh-so-carefully pin them together from that position. This will help to have them really fitting together well. Take your time with this, because no one is going to enjoy wearing a hat with a wrinkly lining!

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If it's an earflap hat, trim the corners (with diagonal snips) to make folding under easier.

Thread a sharp handsewing needle with a length of thread. You can really use any color, because it should theoretically not show. But choose a color of thread that you really could live with if it shows a little.

I don't like to knot my thread when handsewing from the right side like this, especially on stretchy fabric. I looked online today for about 20 minutes (pretty much my limit) to see if this technique actually has a name, and didn't come up with anything. It probably does. I just don't know it. ;)

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Anyway, insert your needle into the seam that you sewed on your machine about an inch or two back from what will be the folded edge. Pull it through, leaving about a one-inch tail of thread. Take a few small backstitches right in the seam line, catching only the lining fabric and not the hat, just to secure the thread. You can actually travel all the way to the edge with these tiny stitches. Go back and cut the tail right up at the edge of the fabric. Stretch the fabric a bit, and any remaining bit of the tail will pull to the inside. This method is as secure as a knot, and is what I use when making dolls.

Fold the edge of the lining under (I just fold every few inches as I go without pinning), and slip stitch to the knitted hat.

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To slip stitch (some people call this "ladder stitch"): Take a small horizontal stitch right in the fold of the lining. Take another small horizontal stitch through the yarn in the hat. Be careful not to pull it too taut -- it will cause the fabric to gather. This stitch is not very stretchy, so I like to stretch the fabric along the thread after I've sewn a few inches just to ensure that the finished hat will be able to stretch around the head of the wearer.

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When you come to the corners on the earflaps, be sure to take your time to fold them so that they look nice and neat and don't create extra bulk.

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Once you've sewn the lining to the hat all the way around, take several small stitches back up that seam line, and trim the tail right up against the fabric once again. And now you have a lined hat to keep your loved ones warm without the itch!