How to: Make Your Own Hat From Cattail Leaves

Category: Shelter / Difficulty Level: 1
Posted: 2018-08-12 11:11:31
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This Summer (2016) I attended a class on how to weave a hat (Fedora) from cattail leaves at the North House Folk School in Grand-Marais, MN. Ms. Tina Fung Holder is a very good at what she does. I hope it inspires you!

Here is a link to her web site:
Smithsonian Profile:
NHFS Profile:

In this video I will walk through what I learned on how to weave and make a hat out of cattail leaves. This is how to start the weave. Below is a clearer breakdown of the weaving pattern used: "(1/3) Essential Weaving Patterns for Making a Cattail Hat"

Tools & Materials:
100 approx. cattail leaves at least 33" long and 3/8" wide
Cotton twine, waxed nylon, or heavy-duty thread
2 or more clothespins
Large needle
Measuring tape

This hat is custom to the circumference of my head at about 23.25" So you will need about 100 leaves at 33 -36" long at about 3/8" wide At these dimensions to complete the hat I needed to weave about 20' of length. You will need to measure your own head to get the proper length of woven strap.

Next we will add a third weaver to create a 3-weaver-5-strand plait. The weave pattern changes from over the adjacent weaver to under, creating "elbows" we will use to form the hat.

We now start to sew from the bend around the edge to lock in the center. The goal is to create a disk that is the same circumference as the measurement we took of our head.

Now is time to start forming the sides of the hat...we are basically creating a bowl. In fact, if we wanted to we could just create a bowl in this fashion. It could even be a primitive colander. Continue to sew the elbows down just off the edge spiraling the weave around, be sure to sew through both layers.

As our "bowl" starts to get taller and reach the top of the ear it is time to form and shape the brim. Moist re-constituted cattail leaves are pliable and we can start to stitch and shape the brim as we want. For a western-look or sun-hat the brim would just be built out on a flat plain. For a fedora the back of the brim is molded upward...the front should be flat.

To finish off, gradually work the end of the weave underneath or alongside the brim. Tuck the ends backward and underneath adjacent weavers. Trim the ends as necessary. Stitch the end in place. If you'd like, take a strip of cloth or ribbon, or finger-woven textile and stitch into the inside of the hat for a sweat-band.

Further embelish with a hat-belt and/or a feather or two, and...VOILA! You have made your own daper chapeau!

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