Hat-making basics: You don't have to be a milliner to make a hat, nor do you need a lot of fancy equipment beyond a sewing machine and basic sewing tools. Believe it or not, hats can be surprisingly simple and quick to stitch together. You'll want stiffer fabric (think wool or felt) and a good interfacing.
Faux-furry trapper hats: Just one trip around the block of hipster-packed NYC 'hood Williamsburg will underscore that trapper hats are still having their day in the winter sun. With a homemade pattern (and a little red buffalo plaid, of course), you can quickly put together your own stylish version, using the opportunity to work in some very-of-the-moment faux fur, of course.
Flapper style: You don't have to brave the cold to get a pretty pattern or two. On Etsy.com, you can find the likes of a gorgeously chic cloche hat pattern with a bias-cut brim and just two pattern pieces or 1920s-style flapper topper with a scalloped brim, both in downloadable full-size (no drafting needed!) patterns at bargain prices. Just print out, cut out and you're good to sew.
Fancy fedoras: Take your inspiration from fabulous fedora designers like Eugenia Kim, but put your own spin on it. While you do need hatmaking equipment to make the traditional fedora, you can also stitch one up, using an old hat as your pattern to shape the fedora. One of the most creative parts of making a fedora is embellishing it, so have your ribbons, feathers and flowers handy.
The more-stylish-than-practical pillbox: Certain hats -- ahem, the pillbox -- may seem unattainable unless you want to resort to a pricey designer. But all you need is a simple pattern (a pillbox hat is basically a circle and rectangle joined together) and a favorite fabric (felt works great).
Very vintage: To take a true page from the past, set your sights on real vintage or reproduction patterns for more eclectic style. Remember that a reproduction pattern can be easier to follow, with simpler instructions that are standardized with current patterns. But the quirks of vintage patterns can also be a great lesson in sophisticated construction techniques, as the home seamstresses of days gone by had more advanced skills, as a rules.
For more "DIY Design" columns, click here. Next week, add some color to your sewing.