Friday, March 11, 2011

Sewing: Engineer Cap--Oh BOY! (Tutorial)

I think it's pretty clear that I am thrilled to be the mother of three little girls, so I wasn't sure Dana would go for my BOY idea, but Audrey is a bit of a tom-boy (no pink and princesses for her--she prefers dogs and dinosaurs and purple), and I have a bunch of nephews (5 of them), and it seems all the babies being born around here are boys, and so somehow I've managed to get the boy vibe going well enough to (fake it?) make it. I'm so happy to be Celebrating the Boy on MADE today (almost as happy as I am about getting to know Dana)!

When my family is in Scottsdale, AZ, we love to visit the "Train Park." My girls, especially Audrey, love to ride the train and carousel and generally run around. Last time I found some engineer caps in the gift shop there and thought one would look so darling on Audrey. But Scarlett has to be exactly like her right now, so I needed them in two sizes. Which is how I got to this pattern for a child's engineer cap in  sizes medium (heads 18"-20") and large (21"-23").

With two sizes, and a bit of elastic in the back, this cap should work for boys of all sizes (such as my curly headed nephew)...


...perhaps even the smaller kind, if they are getting closer to "boy" than "baby" (such as his baby brother).

This cap has lots of possibilities in solids, or patterns, with patch or applique, and I just have to say, I think it works just great for girls too! (You can count on a follow up to this with girls in mind.)

So if you have someone in your house who can't stop singing, "Down by the station early in the morning,..." or "I've been working on the railroad..." take a look at this tutorial and see if this isn't the perfect cap for their boyish locomotion (whether they are girls or boys). Chug, chug, toot, toot, off we go!



• ¾” elastic (about five inches)
• ½ yard fabric for hat
• Scrap of lining fabric (quilting weight) for Cap and brim (heavier weight, such as canvas recommended)
• Medium-Heavy weight fusible interfacing
Pattern (download and print out--it's four pages)


  • Cap (Piece "A"): Cut 1 of fabric and 1 in lining (I used a quilting weight cotton).
  • Brim (Piece "B"): Cut two of fabric. Cut 1 of lining fabric (I used a canvas). Cut 2 of heavy fusible interfacing.
  • Headband (Piece "C"): Cut 2 in fabric. Cut 1 in heavy weight fusible interfacing. (Please note: use the pattern piece provided and ADD 1 INCH FOR THE LARGE/23" SIZE OR CUT ON THE DASHED LINE FOR THE MEDIUM/20" SIZE)
  • Optional Patch piece: There are multiple options here. You can use the patch with the train silhouette cut out (cut one round patch piece in contrast fabric, trace on train silhouette and cut out train silhouette from circle. If desired you can cut a smaller square piece of fabric to back the train cut-out.) Or you can cut out the train silhouette in a contrast fabric to sew/stick on top of patch or directly on the cap. (Or you can stencil this design on the hat using freezer paper.)

Lay interfacing on top of headband piece and trim it .5” around. Iron interfacing to wrong side of one headband piece. Iron interfacing to brim pieces: either to both sides of the lining piece or to one side of the lining piece and one of the fabric pieces.

Place cap pieces (fabric and lining) wrong sides together. Baste around with a .5” seam allowance to hold piece in place.

To mark pleats, lay the pattern piece on top of the fabric stack and stick pins through all the dots marking the pleats. Pull paper off pins (you can tear it a bit).

Referring to the pattern you will create box pleats around the cap. Do this by pinching the pin you’re moving in the direction of the arrow on the pattern and pull it towards the other pin to pleat.

Pin in place. Do this on the other side of the “box” and repeat all the way around the cap.
Baste with a .5" seam allowance to hold pleats in place and press pleats about 3" from the edge of the cap.

Sew headband piece together, right sides facing, at the short end to form a loop. Repeat with second piece.

Fold under one of the long raw edges .5” on each headband piece and press.

Pin one headband piece to the cap matching raw edges and with right sides together. Do this by first matching the seam on the headband piece to the center back of the hat (in the middle of the box pleat in the back). Then pin the center fronts of the cap piece and the headband piece. (If this isn’t an exact fit you can remove basting stitches from one of the side pleats and adjust a bit.)

Now pin the other headband piece right side to lining side of the cap, so you are “sandwiching” the pleated cap between the headband pieces. Pin well all the way around so headband pieces lay flat, easing fulness if needed. The pressed edges of the headband pieces should be free.

Stitch this seam with a .5” allowance.  

Turn headband right side out and press away from cap. Top stitch the brim close to the seam with the cap.

If you are using a patch now is the time to apply it! I did this two different ways. On the larger hat I used spray adhesive to affix my turquoise fabric to the back of the patch with the train cut out. Then I affixed the composed patch to the hat and zigzag stitched around the patch. You could also hand or machine stitch around the train cut out to reduce fray. For the smaller hat I cut out the train silhouette, used spray adhesive to position it on the hat, and then zigzag stitched around the edges of this applique.

(You can skip this next step with the elastic if the cap fits your child’s head as is—you could try it on at this point and see.) To add elastic to the back of the cap, you’ll be sewing it on the inside of one of the headband pieces. Place one raw edge of the elastic on the wrong side of the inside headband piece, about an inch to the left of the left side of the back box pleat, and stitch down on the inside headband piece (it's ok if the stitching overlaps the pressed .5" fold).

You’ll cut the elastic and sew down the other raw edge one inch to the right of the right side of the back box pleat. You’ll want this section to gather a bit so pull the elastic tighter or looser depending on the size of your child’s head. I was aiming to have this area pull in by about 30%, so I laid the elastic flat, placed a pin about 2/3 of the distance between the sewing spots, and then pulled the pinned elastic from there to the sewing spot on the right and sewed in place with a zigzag.

Now the elastic is pulling in this area between the "sewing spots" on either side of the back box pleat and you have the loose headband pieces. Pull the elastic taught so the headband pieces lay flat together and baste close to the edge (we’ll top stitch this area when we sew in the brim).

To make the brim lay the pieces in this order. Fabric piece right side up, fabric piece right side down (so the two fabric pieces are stacked right sides together), lining/canvas piece on top.

Pin and stitch along the out edge with a .5” seam allowance. The inner curve is left open.

Trim and clip seam around curves. Turn right side out and press. Baste the inside curve with a .5” seam allowance. Top stitch close to the edge of the brim.

Now you’ll attach the brim to the front of the hat. Start by pinning the brim to the wrong side of the outside headband piece (the brim will be "sandwiched" between the two headband pieces). Be sure to match the center of the headband piece and the center of the brim. Pin the top side of brim to the inside of outside headband piece, meaning the headband piece that is showing when the hat is worn (it will touch the area you pressed under). Line up the edge of the headband with the basting stitch along the brim. You should also “catch” the points of the brim well within the headband so no raw edges are showing.

With the brim pinned to the outside headband piece, pin the inside headban piece to the underside of the brim, aligning the edge of the headband with the basting stitch. This will ensure that the inside edge of the headband piece will be "caught" in the topstitching seam. 

Pin the rest of the headband pieces together aligning the folded edges as well as possible. Stitch all around the headband close to the folded edge.

You did it! You've constructed an Engineer Cap for some lucky boy (or girl)...

...or maybe you've even made two! "Dinah, blow your horn!"

If you use this tutorial to sew an Engineer Cap I would love to see photos! Please consider adding a photo to my Flickr Group. Thanks!


Erica {B is for Boy} said...

This is AMAZING! My son is a huge fan of trains & this is perfect for him! Thanks for the great tutorial!

Anne said...

This is SUCH an awesome hat! Love, love love!!! I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


jello said...

This is perfect at our house right now! My 18 month old son LOVES trains. Hopefully, we can go on a train ride this summer (even better, in a new hat from this tutorial) :)

Rae said...

This is fantastic!!! So cute. Thanks for helping us celebrate the boy dude!


Anonymous said...


@jenhalloran said...

Speechless -- yet again. These are adorable and fit so well. Can't wait to see them modeled at the train park next time you're in town.

Love the MADE feature, too!

Krista said...

My husband has this style of a cap and my almost 8-year-old has been eying them every time we go to Target. Now I know what I'll make for him for his birthday. Thanks so much for a wonderful tutorial and pattern!

Patty H. said...

THat is so cute! I have really enjoyed browsing your blog!
Patty H.

Very Shannon said...

Love it! Fabulous as per usual my dear!!1

Anonymous said...

You are a LEGEND! I absolutely love your pattern - thank you, thank you. I made one straight away for my 3 year old - I've blogged about it here:

Thank you for sharing.


The818 said...

So glad to have found you via the babble list - congrats lady, you have a gorgeous blog here. I have a 17 month old girl, and I still want to do this project.

Who knows, I might tackle it to inevitably disastrous results with some funky pattern or something...

Anneliese said...

@The818: You should definitely try it for a girl! I think it would be adorable. Do share if you make one!


Barbara said...

Boys, girls - whatever. I'm a 68 year old grandmother who's going to make one (minus the train) using a cute floral fabric!Thank you for sharing the pattern! We elders often have very thin hair so purchased hats rarely fit well. It will also make a cute chemo cap, I think. I made a similar one for a friend going through chemo and it was a huge hit.

Erin said...

I have two train obsessed boys that are going to LOVE this!

Coeur de freesia said...

This engineer cap is also perfect for a policeman ! Just have a look on my blog :
Thanks a lot for the pattern
Cheers from France !

Anonymous said...

Pattern and fit of this hat is so great I made another one for winter. I blogged about it here:

Marci said...

Thanks for the tutorial!! I greatly appreciated it. Although I will have to make 2 smaller ones. Somehow my pattern when I printed it out made a pattern more the size of my head. OPPS!!! Not sure how that happened, but it fits me GREAT!!

Now onto making two smaller ones so we can play train at our house. And I loved that it only took me 20 minutes start to finish!!! Making two assembly line should cut that time considerably.

Arras Heiress said...

The link for the pattern doesn't work for me. Has it been disabled? if you have a link you would be willing to share.

Anneliese said...

I just checked it and it still works!

Trueffel said...

Its so cute. I love this tutorial an i blogged abaout it here for my german friends

skye said...

I cannot get the link for the pattern to open it just loads and loads and will not open is there any other way to get the pattern at all can someone email it to me by any chance.

would be great thanks

Peggypetunia said...

I was in the middle of making some train overalls for my grandaughter. My husband said"Now she needs an engineers hat" I clicked on google and your pattern popped up. It worked perfectly. Now I have to make a tiny one for my 3 month old grandson!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!! I made two for my preschoolers and they're super cute (the preschoolers and the hats). We're off to ride the trains today in them!!

seemesew84 said...

Cute! I will feature this on 9-8-12 for my readers!

Anonymous said...

This tutorial is so easy to follow. I've now made 3 of these for my son. He always needs a new "choo choo hat" when he outgrows one. It's a sewing project I can actually complete during 1 good nap time. Thank you.

Mira (Sewing the Littleheart Collection) said...

Anneliese, I have made this hat 5 times now for various kids, in various sizes and they all love it! Thank you so much for this tutorial!

Anneliese said...

It's so nice to hear about all this hat-making! I'm so glad you all are enjoying this tutorial!

Pieces to Love said...

I'm making a mario costume for my son for Halloween, and happened across your pattern via google. You have a wonderful tutorial and I'm actually excited to get started on the project I have been dreading. Thank you.

De sono a sono said...

I love your tutorial!!!!!
I want to make one for my baby and the same for my big boy.... My question is how to adapt the pattern for 24.6 inchs (63 cm). What diametre have I put?
Congratulations for your blog.
Marian Salgado

Anonymous said...

I love this pattern! They are also cute in denim. I have made 3 already! Kids love them.

Unknown said...

Does anyone have any tips for how I can make this in smaller sizes? And what ages do the medium and large fit best do you think?

Anonymous said...

Any tips on putting the pattern pieces together? None of it makes any sense to me.

Anneliese said...

@Anonymous: You can tape the pattern pieces together so you have a large circle for the hat and then the brim piece. There is a picture early in the tutorial that shows the pieces. I hope that helps. If not, please provide your email address and I'll try to help. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Hi there, just found ur page. Unfortunately I can't download the pattern. Is it possible to get it somehow, I've a baby boy who loves Thomas the tank engine, will make this hat for him.

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