Craft Your Own Coonskin Cap

Turn a raccoon hide into a warm and hardy hat.

October/November 2017
By Dennis Biswell

Turning deer and other animal skins into leather, as I described in the October/November 2016 issue, can lead to the creation of warm and durable clothing, including coonskin caps. The following instructions will help you craft a cap from hair-on raccoon leather. Such caps have been made and worn by generations of explorers and homesteaders, and you, too, will value the cozy feel of a quality, long-lasting cap.

This cap has a tapered liner and straight sides. Without the tapered liner, the cap would fit like a bucket. The liner can be removed for washing and will thus get you more years of service from the cap.

Before you get started, keep these tips in mind:

• When cutting hair-on leather, turn the hide hair-side down, extend the utility knife blade to the shortest setting, and carefully cut through the leather. Leave as much hair on the leather as possible so that it can cover the seams.
• Large needles and heavy-duty thread aren’t needed for sewing raccoon leather. Use a small quilter’s needle and all-purpose thread for this project.
• When sewing leather, wear a pair of lightweight work gloves. Use the pads on the gloves to push the needle partway through the leather. Then, use needle-nose pliers to pull the needle the rest of the way through. If you’re comfortable using a thimble, that will also work for pushing the needle through the leather.
• When sewing, take your time and keep the hair out of the stitches as you pull them snug. By doing so, the stitches will disappear under the hair when it’s combed over the seams.
• Finally, test your patterns by making the cap out of felt or scrap material before cutting the leather.