Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lining an old felt hat with an old fox fur

There's nothing quite like a month of 40 below to motivate a gal to make herself a fur hat. Tim gave me a tanned fox last spring when I was designing minis, but I never found a use for it in my projects. My head's been freezing even with 2 hats on and lots of people around here have these beautiful beaver hats that I see and always wish I had one too. I finally looked at one closely and decided I don't need to wait to afford a 350 dollar hat (as if), I can make my own, for free.

The little felt bula hat I used for the liner has been on my head every winter since I started camping in 2002. It fits me perfectly but I did retire it last winter after Nordica complained she was tired of seeing me wear it. Can't wait to see what she thinks of it now! Heh. It turned out differently than I planned after I decided I like the felt on the outside too. Now it's reversible.

It took me a while to start cutting the hide. I've never done it before and I was worried I'd ruin it and dishonor the fox who gave his life to provide it. I cut the back piece first leaving the legs and the tail attached. This is a popular fur hat style choice in Alaska and I like the idea that it uses every piece of the animal skin except the head. Then I cut a circle for the dome area, sewed that, and next I cut a large back piece for the crown cover and sewed that. I cut the back legs off in 2 pieces and sewed the underbelly fur around the face.

I tied off every stitch on the hide with a double knot. I sewed the felt liner to the leather side of the fur with a hidden stitch, 5 stitches to an inch. I've been gagging up fur balls for days but it's finally almost finished. I can wear it the next time I go saw wood and it's warmed up to 24 below! Almost perfect mushing weather!

Also talked to Tim about him offering week long training expeditions out to the woods and the traplines. I've had several people mention they'd like to learn some Alaskan winter survival skills, and if anyone can teach that, it would be Tim Redington. He's been living and trapping on the back trails of Alaska with dogsleds and snowmachines since before he could walk. He said trapping ends March 15 and he could probably still take people on overnights until March 30. He said he'd charge $1000.00 for 60 hours and $54.00 a day room and board. I may put a schedule together for him and write a syllabus using Dean Wilson Sr.'s The Alaskan Trapper's Guide as the textbook. (Dean Sr. lives down the road too and could be convinced to visit. ) Tim'd include carpentry lessons in making traps and sleds, dog mushing skills, running traplines, skinning hides, building emergency shelters, and include one overnight in the woods. I could also give a brief introduction to building an emergency gertee if there's an interest.

Laying out the hide

Sewing it together

making sure it fits

Original outside

final design


Anonymous said...

"Lining an old felt hat with an old fox fur" makes for one FOXEY chick!


Anonymous said...

Looking Good there Niki, Wonderful job. Gisela

The Angry Cheese. said...

Tres Chic!

Stop Common Purpose said...

Very resourceful, Niki. And looks good too.

Right Wing Vegan said...

That's awesome! Your neighbors probably won't bat an eye, but I'd love to see how today's dumb environmental do-gooders would react to it.

the tent lady said...

Thanks everyone! I am inspired by your genuine encouragement. Had to ask Nordica what tres chic means and she was like, "Oh God mom, you DO need me, don't you?"

The first 2 men who've seen it want me to make them something out of fur! Heh. I could start a tailor shop out here. One of my priority goals is to develop useful skills I can trade with my neighbors after our stores are emptied of goods and our people are reduced to standing in Soviet bread lines. Maybe this is it. My mother's family were all tailors so maybe it's in my blood.

It turned out that the neck tie with the draw string clasp works perfect for lifting and tieing the ear covers back when it's too warm outside to wear the whole hat. Tim said he's never seen them made reversible. Maybe that's my niche.

Tim, who hates the cold and complains about his hands all the time, wants me to make him a pair of mittens out of the fox seal coat I won on ebay for 34 bucks. One of the biggest challenges to winter work is your gloves have to be removed for tricky stuff. Dean Wilson Sr. stopped by and identified it as fur seal because of the tanner stamp being Foukes. Fur seal hasn't been harvested commericalliy since 1955. Makes it kind of rare. The fur seal coat is in perfect condition but it doesn't fit me so I want to make me a pair of boots out of it. I will practice cutting the other fur coats before I snip into the seal.

The dumb environmental do-gooders only come to this area in the summer when everything is easy, so they don't have a clue what we wear in the winter. They'd die off pretty quick here... send em on up!

sunshine unit said...

I didn't know what to expect, it actually turned out pretty sweet. The bula hat needed a makeover. Definitely set up shop...more fur is on the way! Do you want me to stop by Black Elk before I mail the next box?