June 6, 2017 by Rachel
When I was eleven or twelve, I adored everything about Abraham Lincoln, especially the stories about how he would store drafts of his speeches in his stovepipe hat. I imagined a full-size top hat on my shelf, propping up some of the books I’d read about him.
My parents had a leather craft business and among the supplies were a few hides too marred to be used. I didn’t realize that Lincoln’s hat would’ve been from finely-felted beaver fur molded over a wooden form, I asked for one of the dud hides, a brown one with a funky mottled texture. I cut out two pieces for the rim, the crown, and the top. We didn’t have black leather dye, so I used black paint. I was stumped as to how to join the pieces. Eventually, I took a sharp awl and punched holes all around the leather so that I could sew the pieces together. But I only had regular thread, which wasn’t strong enough to bind the leather. After a few days, I gave up on the project, and stored the stack of leather pieces under my Lincoln books.
Designing the patterns for these hats was definitely fulfilling a childhood wish. You can find the full directions on my one of my other websites, http://childrensart.info/paper-top-hats/