Jo's writing hat

"Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and "fall into a vortex" as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.  Her "scribbling suit" consisted of a black woollen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action.  This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally, to ask, with interest, "Does genius burn, Jo?" - Louisa May Alcott, Little Women. 

As a very young girl I had a copy of one of those children's Great Illustrated Classics editions of Little Women.  It was my most cherished book and I read it near to shreds - the oils of my fingertips making soft the thick, raw cut pages that contained my favorite heroine: Josephine March. I fell ever more in love with the story and my muse when I saw Winona Ryder star as Jo in the movie adaptation. Headstrong, wild, willful, and a writer, I did and do fancy myself a Jo March, and even now, she is my writing muse. I try and channel her discipline, staying up late at night burning then precious gas to light her lamp, all so she could commit her stories to the page. 

I always loved that Jo had a writing outfit (I'm always here for the outfits, so we're clear) and I was especially taken with her writing cap. For the first time since I was a teenager, I'm attempting a novel. Fear and self-doubt kept this writing at bay, but no longer. I began in November during NanoWriMo, but have since let my discipline slide in lieu of other work, like this website.

I decided that to get back on track, I needed something that would encourage more disciplined actions, and I thought: Jo's writing hat! I went straight to my Maker's Room and began drafting my pattern: 

Unequipped with drafting paper, I used wax paper to construct my pattern. After looking at pictures of Jo's hat, I decided that my best bet would be to find a pattern for a men's nightcap (think Ebenezer's hat in A Christmas Carol). I found a really simple pattern online, and began drafting. 

Following the patterns instructions, I first measured the circumference of my head (22"). Then, I lay my wax paper on my measuring board and measured the recommended 19" high and 11" across to create the base of my design. I then drew the back seam and curvature, creating a 90 degree angle at the bottom of my pattern. 

For my fabric, I chose a simple cotton lining and outer fabric with gold design. Using my pattern, I cut out my design, and then lay the outer fabric of my hat atop the lining, making sure the right side of the fabric was facing me.

To make a cuff round the bottom of the hat where it would sit on my head, I measured the height of the lining at 22" instead of 19", so I could fold it over the outer fabric creating a cuff. 

It sewed up very easily and the whole project took less than two hours to complete start to finish.

Writing hat complete, I have no excuse now to not get back to writing that novel. Hopefully Jo will be there in spirit, giving me gentle encouragement and guidance. 

Erin E BarrioComment