Nancy Daly is the enthusiastic coordinator of the busy Hat Ladies! Make that Hat Ladies and Gentlemen, as two men have recently joined the group! To date her group of volunteers has made over 37,000 fleece hats for causes and those in need. Nancy Daly started sewing hats 17 years ago for her own children and their sports teams, and it just grew from there. An invitation to sew for a Head Start class 13 years ago got her started sewing for programs in the community. Nancy and her group now sew for every Head Start child in Dane County (Madison, WI), four Madison elementary schools, homeless shelters, free clothing sites, YWCA, Neighborhood Centers, the Salvation Army, After School Programs.
I invited Nancy to be part of a Nancy’s Corner segment on Sewing With Nancy to share her special Hat Ladies and Gentlemen program in hopes that you’ll be encouraged to sew hats for children in your community.
Fleece Hat pattern dimensions and instructions:
- Draw two perpendicular lines, a 4-1/2″ horizontal line and a 7-1/2″ vertical line centered on the 4-1/2″ horizontal line.
- Measure 2″ above the 4-1/2″ line and draw another 4-1/2″ horizontal line.
- Connect the outer edges. I drew free hand.
- Write the word “Grainline” along the vertical line and “Stretch” along the horizontal line.
- Cut out six hat panels. Notice the grainline.
- Cut a 6″ x 22″ crosswise band (the stretch of the fabric).
- Lastly, cut a 1″ x 3″ tassel, cutting fringes 2/3 the length of the tassel. If you like a fuller tassel, cut three 1″ x 3″ tassels.
- For an adult head size, use 1/4″ seam allowances. For a child’s size, stitch with 1/2″ (or larger) seam allowances. Seam allowances can be adjusted, made deeper, to fit a child. (The Hat Ladies sew the hats with the children close at hand. They’ve made so many hats that they know which seam allowance is best for the age/size child.)
- Stitch three sections of each hat panel to create two hat halves.
- Pin the tassel to one half.
- Stitch the two hat halves together.
- Stitch the short edges of the hat band with the chosen seam allowance. Fold hat band in half, wrong sides together, meeting long edges.
- Quarter mark the hat band and the hat.
- Pin the hat band to the hat at the quarter marks, pinning fabrics right sides together.
- Slightly stretch the band to meet the hat. Stitch.
- Turn the band downward.
- Ta Da!
In the spirit of the Hat Ladies, please use this pattern and instructions for donating purposes only.
In a typical season the Hat Ladies and Gentlemen host about 45 Hat Gigs. All the hats are donated to the recipients at a school or program–all with high concentrations of low income children.
Often, the children select the colors for their hat, and they sit with a Hat Lady or Gentleman to have it sewn to size. For many of the children, this is the first piece of brand-new clothing that belongs just to them.
If you’re inspired to make hats for children in your community, or would like to know more about this organization, please contact Nancy Daly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates from Nancy Daly since taping the TV show
- On December 5, 2013 the Hat Ladies and Gentlemen made 571 hats in one day at a school and finished before the end of the school day! At one point they had 20 Hat Ladies and Gentlemen sewing at once and several others to keep the children flowing through the line. They came back a second day and sewed an additional 173 hats!
- In November, 2013 the Hat Ladies and Gentlemen sewed for the girls on the run of Dane County and raised $2,010. Prior to the fundraiser the Hat Ladies and Gentlemen sewed 584 hats for every girl participating in Girls On The Run of Dane County.
- As of January 24, 2014, they’ve made nearly 5,429 hats this season, with a grand total of over 37,000 hats!
- The Hat Ladies and Gentlemen donate all their time, materials, and hats to worthy children.
- Over the past 13 years, 9,500 hats have been sewn for Head Start children.
Hats off to Nancy Daly and her group of Hat Ladies and Gentlemen! I commend you all on your giving spirits and willing hearts.
Bye for now,