Woolly Wormhead Buttonette knitted hat pattern

Midweek Masterclass: Hat shape, structure and fit (part two)

23rd February 2017

In part one of our Hat design masterclass we looked at ease, designing the crown, and the brim (click here if you missed part one).

Now in part two we'll cover the body of your hat, and conclude with the main differences between beanies, berets and slouchy hats.

Having determined our brim and crown structures, we can start to think about the body shape. Although the crown determines the overall structure, the body still plays an important part in determining style. Yes, the crown will determine whether we have a pointy, flat or gathered finish, and will determine the mathematical structure of the whole hat, but the body determines whether we will have slouch or length or height.

Slouch is determined by two things – length, width, or both. We either increase after the brim (hence a beret automatically looks slouchy, as we increase 50%), work a longer length than normal before starting the crown decreases (extra-long beanies are a good example of this) or we do a little of both (the slouchy hats currently in fashion generally follow this rule). By knitting for longer, you’re creating more fabric, just as you would be in your increased stitches, only in a different place. How and when you create that extra fabric determines your style.


The main differences between beanies, berets and slouchy hats are determined by the different parts of the hat, as described.

Crown shaping knitted hat design

A beanie will flow smoothly and simply from the brim into the body, which then flows into the crown. All parts of the hat work on the same mathematical structure, and a good design will make the most of this. The brim and the body together form the cylinder of the hat, and the circle atop is the crown. The length of the cylinder generally works out to be about two thirds of the overall length, although row gauge will affect this. The brim and body of a beanie will both have negative ease.

Crown shaping hat masterclass beanie hat brim

A beret shares some structure with a beanie – although it is two cylinders of different diameters (the brim and the body) the total length of the those together will be the same as a beanie. What makes a difference is the much larger circle at the crown, due to the 50% extra stitches. This adds extra length to the hat, and the additional stitches add the room. The brim of a beret has negative ease and the body has positive ease.

Knitted hat pointed crown

A pixie hat, too (like the Buzzba design below), shares a similar structure with a beanie, with the key difference being the crown. Invariably the brim and body form the cylinder (although they can of course be different stylistically, and use different stitch patterns) but instead of a circle at the top of the cylinder, we have a cone. Personally, I tend to make the length of the hat before starting the crown shaping (the cylinder) shorter than that of a beanie, so that the point on the hat is softer, and it will also be less likely to flop over. The brim and body of a pixie will both have negative ease.


Buzzba hat Woolly Wormhead

A slouchy hat can be any of the above, or none of them. It can be two cylinders or one, it can have a flat crown (a circle) or a gathered crown or even a pixie hat – I have designed and published more than one pattern for a slouchy pixie hat! The brim of a slouchy hat has negative ease and the body has positive ease, but not as much as a beret. It’s not really surprising that slouchy hats have become so popular; they’re easy to wear, but they’re also easier to design as the maths is more flexible and forgiving, and they allow for much more experimentation. They don’t fit the traditional rules of knitted hats.

Slouchy hat design


Woolly Wormhead hat designer


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