The folks at Kraft-tex sent us a sample of their unique product, which is a sort of cross between paper and leather, meant to be an alternative to leather and pleather/plastics.
Kraft-tex lists itself as “…rugged paper that looks, feels, and wears like leather, but sews, cuts, and washes like fabric. Kraft-tex® is supple, yet strong enough to use for projects that get tough wear” and we have to admit, it hits the mark!
We weren’t sure about applications at first, but after some testing we think Kraft-tex would be excellent in places where foam is too thick, where you need a thinner profile while maintaining some rigidity, especially in areas where you don’t want to worry about material stretching and warping from wear. We used it to create this witch hat, using a pattern from sew4home to avoid having to calculate any of the math for ourselves!
The process is very simple and took us about 2 hours to put the whole thing together! After cutting out the pattern from sew4home (and ignoring the dart instructions), we taped the cone into shape with painter’s tape and using a leather needle sewed the cone closed. You could absolutely do this with neat and mostly invisible stitches, or even glue, but we wanted a rustic, messy look for this hat and so we used a thick button thread. You are going to want a leather needle or a very sharp hand sewing needle, and you may need a grip or thimble: Kraft-tex has a density that makes sewing something closer to thick leather, even though it’s quite thin.
Next we wired the brim! We used 18 gauge galvanized steel wire from the hardware store. If your wire has bends or bumps, you can draw it over a hard, curved surface (keeping tension on both ends of the wire) and it will help smooth the wire into a curve that you can sew over. Next step is to CAREFULLY sew a zig zag stitch over the wire around the entire brim. Wear glasses or safety goggles and go slow! If your needle hits the wire, it will almost certainly break and shatter and can hit your face. Once you get to the beginning, do not sew over the overlap with the machine: you don’t want to put too many sewing needle holes into the Kraft-tex because it doesn’t ‘heal’ the way woven fabrics do. Instead stop and hand sew the last of the wire overlap (you’re going to want at least a 2 inch overlap of the wire) using the holes that were already punched into the material to anchor down the last of the wire. Now you have a fully wired brim that can hold it’s shape easily!
Next steps were to finish the edge of the brim and cover the wire with some black bias tape we glued into place, using quilt clips to hold things in place. We used a pattern tracer to mark where the cut line was for the hat (and you can see here we left a much larger interior circle to make sewing the tabs easier) and then we cut slits around the interior of the brim to create the tabs that will attach to the cone. From there we hand sewed the two together using the leather needle and regular thread.
Now we have a tall and pointy witch hat, but we wanted it to have that crumpled, well-loved look. So we attempted to just crumple it by hand but it really wanted to stay upright. Kraft-tex is interesting in that it does absorb some water (and can be washed to make it softer!) so we stuck the cone under the sink (literally) and then crumpled it into shape, using some button thread to hold it in place until it was dry. Then we had a very nicely crumpled form that would hold said crumples!
Kraft-tex comes in a LOT of different colors and finishes, but this was an experiment with the unwashed brown and while we could have gone for a steampunk witch with the look, we decided to paint it black with some DecoArt Americana Premium black paint, which did a great job in only one coat. The paint does soften the Kraft-tex, so you want to make sure if you’re painting the material it’s in the shape you generally want it to dry in, or it may warp a bit!
Decorating was easy! You can see how the brim will curve if you’d like it to, or hold itself rather straight if not. The whole hat weighs 100 g or 3.5 oz without decoration, so it’s actually lighter than even EVA foam or Buckram at the same scale, without the thickness of the former and the water-solubility of the later. You can also see in the last photo that if you want to be able to change the general shape of the cone, you still can: it holds the jaunty bend just fine on it’s own, but with a bit of flexing we had it back to a sharp point (still crinkled of course!) for a more imposing look.
Cost wise, this project would fit on a roll of Kraft-tex, which are 19″x1.5 yards with a MRSP of $14.95 – so it’s absolutely affordable!