Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never specifically describes Sherlock Holmes as wearing a deerstalker hat, but he mentions at times that the detective wore a "close-fitting cloth cap" and a "ear-flapped travelling cap." Because of this description, Sidney Paget, the original illustrator, drew a deerstalker, as it was the only style of hat of the time that fit both descriptions.
|Some of Sidney Paget's illustrations of Sherlock on the go. [source]|
Like SH's hat, a deerstalker is never specifically mentioned in Farmer Boy, but Wilder twice describes a style of cap that might be a deerstalker. Almanzo's cousin Frank has one that he boasts is from New York and costs fifty cents, and he shows how the ear flaps can be buttoned around the chin, or flipped up to button on top. Almanzo and his brother are both jealous. Later in the book, Almanzo gets a similar hat for Christmas: "The plaid cloth was machine-woven. So was the lining. Even the sewing was machine-sewing. And the ear-muffs were buttoned over the top. Almanzo yelled. He had not even hoped for such a cap."
|My ear flaps flipped up, and posing with my magnifying equipment.|
|This toy microscope was actually a freebie from a science teacher fair.|
|Side view of the hat...looks pretty real!|
|The button on the top is my favorite little bit!|
|It's like I'm some kind of weird headless mannequin.|
I still had a bit of this brownish-gray plaid leftover from my Mad Men dress and Clovers, and it's definitely machine-woven, so it was perfect for this HSF literature-inspired project. The lining is just some IKEA cotton fabric, and the while my flaps don't button, they can be tied under the chin or over the top. And best of all, Almanzo's cap is specifically described as machine-sewn, so I don't even have to apologize for not stitching this by hand! However, given that my machine threw a fit about sewing through so many layers of fabric and interfacing, I might have done better to sew it by hand (or with pliers!).
|This gray leaf print seemed like an appropriate fabric for an outdoorsy hat.|
|I may decide to cut the aglets off of the shoelace tips so that it's less obviously anachronistic, but for now it's nice not to worry about fraying.|
Pattern: I used Tanit-Isis' sunhat pattern to do the crown (with 1/3" seam allowances), then traced off a baseball cap for the brims (download pattern here). The ear flaps are just a shortened, rounded version of the crown pieces. While I just winged the construction, I later found these instructions for Simplicity 2517 online if you need more guidance on making your own deerstalker.
Fabric: less than 1/3 yard of plaid, even less of the cotton lining.
Notions: a shoelace, a 7/8" covered button, craft-weight interfacing for the brims (which could probably still stand to be heavier.
Hours: 4, sadly. I managed to botch the lining seam allowances so badly that I ended up cutting a seventh piece to make up the difference in circumference. Then I managed to very meticulously sew the lining the wrong side up, so I had to go back and unpick and repin everything. I also stitched in the ditch by hand to attach the lining to the hat at the seams so that it would stay put.
Will you make it again? Does one need more than one death frisbee? Yeah, I didn't think so.
How historically accurate is it? Polyester and shoelaces and craft-weight interfacing are definitely not historically accurate materials, but the general look is right, I think...deerstalkers haven't changed much since Victorian times, and mine wouldn't look terribly out of place in the late nineteenth century until someone saw the shoelace aglets. Since I'm not working for a museum and this is just an excuse to make fun things, I'm not bothered. I'm at theatrical costumer level at best.
Total cost: I'm going to count this as more or less free, since I used all stash materials.
Final thoughts: I suppose by making this hat at home, I sort of defeated the purpose of recreating Almanzo's Christmas cap, which is specifically store-bought. Still, this ridiculous hat makes me as happy as he was on that long ago Christmas morning. Will I ever wear it for anything other than a costume event? Probably not. But I can sleep knowing that should I ever want to have a coordinated 1960s secretary/detective outfit, I could do it!
And just because I love Benedict's Sherlock:
|"What kind of hat is it anyway? Is it a cap? Why has it got two fronts?"|
|"How do you stalk a deer with a hat? What are you going to do, throw it?"|
|"Some sort of death frisbee?"|
|"It's got flaps. Ear flaps! It's an ear hat, John!"|