1. Pattern consists of four pieces. Crown (A) is the size and shape of the head at its widest. Headband is in three pieces (B, C, D), each about 4 in. wide.
2. Join pattern pieces A and B with pins and place them on flesh side of skin close to tail. Use felt-tip pen to mark pattern. Cut A, B, and tail as one piece.
3. Place pattern pieces C and D on flesh side of skin near where A and B were cut; mark with pen and cut. Grain and color of new fur pieces should match piece B.
4. Use knife to slice base of tail one-third of way in at each side, then use blanket stitch to sew tail together into a tubular shape all the way down its length.
5. Blanket stitch is often used for joining pieces of fur. Use fine needle and nylon thread. Do not pull thread too tightly or you may cut the leather.
6. Bring edges of fur together when sewing, then stitch through. Be careful that hair is not gathered into seam, otherwise seam will be visible.
7. After tail is sewn, join rear part of headband (B) to crown. Sew on the skin side, and make stitches close so that joined fur looks like a single piece.
8. Add pieces C and D to head-band and continue sewing to crown after testing for fit. Pieces C and D may need to be trimmed a bit so that the cap fits properly.
9. Satin lining can be added. Use same pattern except cut C and D as one piece. Turn cap inside out, then join lining to leather along lower edge only.
The finished cap should look like a single piece of fur without any seams showing
From Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills, Third Edition, edited by Abigail R. Gehring
The coonskin cap has been an American favorite from pioneer days to the age of television. Like the moccasins DIY AF ran in the last issue, its origins predate the arrival of the white man—the oldest painting of an American Indian shows an aborigine wearing a round hat with a raccoon tail attached to the crown. By the time pioneers were beginning to settle Kentucky and Tennessee, the coonskin hat had evolved into the hunting cap now associated with Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. When making one, use a large skin, free of blemishes and bald spots, with a tail that is full and well marked. Cut the pattern out of a heavy grocery bag, baste it together, and check to make sure you have the fit you want. The crown should be somewhat elongated—about 1 inch longer than it is wide. When cutting the leather, use a razor-sharp knife and cut on the skin side.
Related Stories: Making Moccisans
This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® 2014-#158 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® magazine are available here.
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