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From pioneer days to the age of television, the coon skin hat has been one of Americans' favorites. The origin of this hat predates the arrival of white man in the Americas. In the oldest painting known that shows a coon skin hat, an aborigine is shown wearing a round hat with a raccoon tail connected to the crown. When pioneers were beginning to settle Tennessee and Kentucky the coon skin hat had evolved into a hunting cap. Today this hat is more popularly associated with such historical heros as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

To make a coon skin hat you will need a large skin that is free of bald spots and blemishes. The tail should be well marked and full. Use a heavy grocery bag to cut your pattern so that you can baste the paper together to be sure you have the fit you want. The crown of the hat will need to be about an inch longer than it is wide and some what elongated. The pattern will consist of four pieces and they should be marked prior to cutting them out. The crown pattern is the size and shape of your head at its widest part and should be cut round. The head band part of the hat will need to be in three pieces with each about 4 inches wide. Be sure to make measurements of your head or that of the person you are making the coon skin hat for to be sure the three head band pieces will fit around the head after it is sewn. Allow 1\2 inch for a seam allowance on all the pieces of your pattern.

When your pattern pieces are cut join them together with pins and place them on the flesh side of the skin with the largest piece of the headband centered at the tail. Use a black felt tipped pen to mark your pattern and then cut the crown and larger piece of the head band as one solid piece. Place the two smaller pieces of the headband pattern on the flesh side of the skin near where the other pieces were cut. Then mark and cut them. The grain and color of the two smaller pieces of your headband should match that of the larger headband piece. Using a sharp knife, slice the base of the tail 1\3 of the way on each side. Then blanket stitch the tail together into a tubular shape all the way down its length. With a fine needle and nylon thread stitch the remainder of the hat together using a blanket stitch. Start at the rear part of the headband and stitch in the crown. When you join the sides of the headband to the larger piece make smaller stitches so the joined fur will appear to be a single piece. Be careful not to pull the thread too tight or you may cut the leather.

When the coon skin hat is complete you can add a satin lining by using the same pattern but cut the entire headband as one solid piece and the crown separate. Turn the fur hat inside out and the satin lining right side out then stitch them together around the skins lower edge. When this is complete, push the lining into the inside of the fur hat and it is ready to wear. If you want to make a coon skin hat but prefer not to hunt for the skin, most area leather shops will be able to get the fur for you.