Friday, April 19, 2019

Making Professor Minerva McGonagall's Plaid Hat

This is absolutely my favorite thing I made the first week of April. (And that's saying something because that particular week was a very productive one in the sewing room!)

My high school biology and chemistry teacher contacted me in March, asking if I could take on a commision for her. The school she now teaches at was having a "Hairy Pawter" themed open house, and she needed a Minerva McGonagall costume for the event.

Now this was right up my alley (especially considering I made myself a Minerva McGonagall inspired 1890's outfit last summer), so I was thrilled to accept the commision from one of my favorite former teachers!

Image found on Tumbler

She already had a black blouse, and it was decided a black graduation robe (something easily acquired second hand in a college town) would work well for the robe portion of Professor McGonagall's outfit. Thus, all I needed to make for the costume was a plain black skirt and Professor Mcgonagall's distinctive green plaid hat (seen for the first time in the second Harry Potter movie.)

The simple elastic waist black skirt was easily assembled in a couple hours one morning, then it was on to the fun part of the commision - the hat!

I decided to use Simplicity 4677 (a reprint of a 1970's pattern), view 1, for the hat itself, as it appeared to be just the right shape and size. For the brim, I adapted the brim pieces from Simplicity 1293, view E. I drafted the earflap pattern myself.

As for materials, the main fabric is a plaid cotton flannel, the brim is stiffened with interfacing, and the crown is stiffened with a sew-in foam interfacing and lined with the black poly/cotton broadcloth leftover from making the skirt (mentioned at the beginning of this post). All the fabrics and interfacings came from Joann's.

I cut out the foam interfacing for the crown without any seam allowance, then centered it on the crown lining.

I attached the foam to the lining, by zig-zag stitching all along the outer edge of the foam.

After that, I decided the lining and interfacing could be anchored together a bit better, so I decided to do some basic quilting.

I marked lines from the point of the crown to the bottom edge, and sewed along them.

Once that was done, I was satisfied the hat would be able to hold it's shape, and the lining would not be droopy in any way.

So I sewed up the center back seam of the lining.

Per the instructions of Simplicity 4677, I left the middle 3" of this center back seam open so I'd be able to turn the hat right side out later.

With the lining all ready to go, it was on to the visible, pretty, part of the hat.

It was obvious from the 45 degree angle of the plaid in all the pictures I referenced, that Professor McGonagall's plaid hat was cut on the bias. So, that's how I cut my reproduction.

I re-shaped the front brim from Simplicity 1293 ever so slightly to curve smoothly in the center front, rather than ending in a point.

As the underside of the brim and earflap pieces were likely to be seen, each piece was "lined" with the same fabric. Once all the pieces were cut out, I interfaced them.

The front and back brims were fused with a stiff apparel interfacing - the type of stuff used to interface shirt collars. This would lend the perfect amount of structure to the brim.

The earflaps didn't need any stiffness added to them, just a bit of structure. So, I used non fusible interfacing on them, and instead opted to interline them with another piece of flannel - this one cut on the straight of grain, rather than the bias, to prevent the ear flaps from stretching out of shape. For the ties at the end of the earflaps I decided to use a black and metallic ribbon-type trim acquired on clearance from Hobby Lobby. It coordinated nicely with the plaid, and I already had it in my stash!

Once all the pieces were properly interfaced or flatlined, I sewed the top fabrics and linings of each piece right sides together, leaving the top edge, where they would attach to the crown of the hat, open.

I sewed up the back seam of the crown, turned everything right side out (and pressed it flat), then pinned the brim and earflap pieces to the bottom edge of the crown.

Once it was all pinned in place, the plaid hat was placed inside the crown lining. The brim and ear flaps were sandwiched between the crown and crown lining pieces and everything was pinned together.

Finally, I sewed everything together all around the bottom edge of the crown.

Then I turned the hat right side out, by pulling everything through the opening left in the center back seam of the crown lining.

Once everything was pulled through, I used the ladder stitch to close up the opening, and the hat was done!

The ear flaps can be tied down under the chin. . .

Or up behind the head!

I think either way, the trim I used for the ties blends in very nicely. 

The original hat in the Harry Potter movies, had matching fabric ties. I decided against making those because I didn't want to turn itty-bitty tubes of fabric right side out. That can be time consuming and finicky! Thus, I'm very pleased with how the not-entirely-matching tied turned out.

The hat took under two hours to make - which is pretty quick considering I'd never made a hat quite like this before so I was figuring out the pattern and order of construction as I went along!

My former teacher was thrilled with her hat when I delivered it, and I hear she was instantly recognizable as Minerva McGonagall at the "Hairy Pawter" open house the following Saturday - which is just what we wanted!

And now? I want to make a hat list like this for myself! I think I need one in my costume wardrobe! (or even in my everyday wardrobe??)


  1. This was wonderful! I had so many people address me as "McGonagle"!

  2. How fun! It turned out so great, and you clearly enjoyed making it. Those are the best projects. :)

    1. It was so much fun to make - definitely the best kind of project :)