Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to make a coonskin cap

If you saw my previous post, you no doubt noticed the very authentic looking coonskin caps on my kiddos.   That is because they were very authentic....we made them!  Now I know some of you have very strong opinions about this kind of thing, I totally respect that.  Please respect ours as well.  Both my husband and I have grown up in a very outdoorsy and somewhat subsistance lifestyle and things like this are "old hat" to us.  Country folk can survive...if you will! ;-)  For those curious as to how the coonskin caps were made...this post is for you. 
First, procure a coon skin.  My husband trapped these coons at a friends property who raises chickens and pheasants.  Racoons will reek havoc on poultry!!  Then my father-in-law, who is a taxidermist, sent these off to be tanned.  Jeremy has tanned some of his own hides and they are never soft enough to work with.  
Next, make a template for the hat.  It is very simple, a circle with a 4 inch wide band around it with the tail attached to the back, and he head attached to the front, if you so desire.  I measured my kids heards and they were about 21 inches around so I made two rectangles that were 11X4 out of paper grocery bags and drew those onto the skins.  Then I did the calculation to see how big of circle I would need.  I knew the circumference would equal about 21 after I sewed the two rectangles into a circle.  Radius=Circumference/Pi/2.   21/3.14/2=3.34  So I took out my trusty compass and set it to 3.34 and made my circle on the paper.  Then I cut it and transfered it to the skin.  (I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've used that formula since college!)
Here I am cutting open the belly part to open the skin. 
This is a picture of the hat pattern drawn onto the skin, I used a sharpie. 
Then I just started cutting away with my new Exacto knife.  (That thing is awesome, can't believe I've never gotten my hands on one before now!!) 
I swear I didn't cut off my pinky, not sure why I have it all folded under!  Ha! 
Here are the two pieces with one seam sewn together.  Then just sew the other ends together and you have the sides of your hat. I used a blanket stitch.  When sewing I didn't use pins to hold the pieces in place I used office supply binder clips. 
You will need to purchase a special leather needle.  The point is triangular and sharpened like a razor blade.  It cuts through the tough hide like a hot knife through butter!  My taxidermist father-in-law had lots of these to share with me! 
The the flat side of the needle.  I just used regular cotton quilting thread. My father in law uses Berkley "Fireline" fishing line when sewing his mounts. My cotton thread worked just fine for this. 
Here are the binder clips I used instead of pins. 
If you look closely you can see the blanket stitch on the seams.
When you are done with that just sew the tail onto the bottom of the back center seam and the head onto the front center seam!  It's pretty easy! And these hats are WARM!! Also I did not line them, but many folks do. 
 Here is the final product! 
 
Yes, I know some will call us hillbillies and or rednecks....I guess we are ok with that!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks for the write-up!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Thanks for the write-up!

Sally Gold said...

Thanks for sharing! We raise chickens and ducks (and chuckers and quail in the past) and raccoons have always been a problem for us. Weve lost many of our birds to them through out the years, but yesterday we found our favorite duck had been killed, along with another duck :( needless to say, i will be having a new coon skin hat soon. And as soon as i catch the sucker, now i will know how to make it. :) thank you for sharing!

wanderingfarmwife said...

This is awesome! Thank you. My brother hunts them with some fine dogs and wants me to make him a hat.