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When my father died two years ago, he left behind many things – family, friends, memories, and all his earthly possessions. A big portion of those possessions was a massive collection of baseball caps. Dad wore hats all the time. He was an avid golfer and wore them when he played (and also earned quite a few of them in the tournaments he competed in over the years). He often wore them for working outside at home and on jobsites at work.
There were plenty of hats for all three of his kids to take home, with more yet to spare. I took a lot of them, even though I don’t often wear baseball caps. My husband wears them sometimes when he’s working outside on our farm, so I kept a few for him, but mostly those hats just remind me so much of my dad and I didn’t want to part with them. His hats were basically part of the décor at mom and dad’s – they were always tucked all around the house, hanging on the coat rack ready to wear the next day, lined up on shelves, stuffed into drawers.
After his passing, though, I sought out one of them in particular. Today, I want to take a minute and tell you the story of that hat.
Dad helped us with so many things over the years. He was the foremost expert on a wide variety of tasks. We appreciated his help so much and he was kind enough to offer it to us regularly. One Saturday, he came over to the farm to help Chad cut down some dead trees near our creek which we wanted to get rid of. Everything was going great until one tree split slightly as it fell, jutting out a little. It picked my dad up and tossed him right into the creek. One very big splash later, he was completely submerged. Chad didn’t see it happen, but when he looked over, my dad was sitting up in the creek, smiling, and dumping the water out of his boots.
We found out later, when it was detected during cancer screenings, that he had broken his rib in that fall. Of course, dad had just taken an ibuprofen and worked for a few more hours afterward (yes, seriously) and had never gone and gotten any type of medical attention for it whatsoever. His only complaint to me that day, with a laugh: “My hat fell off and the stream carried it away!”
That evening, Chad and I hopped on a four-wheeler. I said, “I’m going to find that hat!” For some reason — I remember thinking how weird it was at the time — I just knew where that hat would be. Dad said it was no big deal (he had a lot of other hats, after all), but I wanted to find it, or to at least look for it. The creek winds around a lot, making dozens of curves across the property, almost a mile in length, and dumps out into a larger creek that borders our property. There was a good chance the hat was gone forever. But for some reason, I just knew it would be there. I found it at the first place I looked, in a small area that I had literally just made a path through the woods to get to a few days before. There were so many places it could have gotten caught up. So many turn and bends and tree branches that could have stopped it, but there it was, half way across the property, just where I expected. I honestly couldn’t even believe I found it so quickly and easily.
I cleaned that hat up really well and then returned it to my dad. After he passed away, that was the first thing I asked my mom if I could keep. She didn’t know where it was – there were so many hats. On top of that, she knew he’d thrown away some of the ones that had gotten old and beaten up, and she thought that might have been one of them, after all it had been a few years since it had taken it’s little river cruise and it had already been an “old, work” hat at that point. She looked around a bit and couldn’t initially find it, and I told myself it was okay if it was gone.
But for some reason, I didn’t think it was. The next time I came to the house, I searched for it. It was in the first place I looked, down in the basement cellar, with several other very-well worn hats. Of all the places for that hat to be, for some reason, I just knew that’s where it was.
That hat will always be sentimental to me. It reminds me of all the things my dad was. Helpful, kind, stubborn, hardworking, funny. It always makes me smile when I see it.
I’ve had his other hats stored away, always thinking that sometime, when I get a chance I’ll do “something” with them, not really having any ideas whatsoever. But recently, inspiration struck and it occurred to me that the top of the caps kind of looks like a snowflake. With a touch of creativity and a little bit of thread, they could become truly beautiful. This is what I came up with…
EMBROIDERED BALLCAP MEMORY ORNAMENTS
These ballcap memory ornaments are simple to make, just taking a little bit of time and only the slightest knowledge of embroidery. I used only three types of stitches for this design and really you could get away with just the one. The backstitch is what I used for almost all of the snowflake and writing at the bottom. I used a French knot, for the little dots to add a little pizzazz to the snowflake. I also used a running stitch to help secure the extra fabric at the back and give it a cleaner look. All of these are simple and easy to master in just minutes.
I don’t feel like I’m expert enough to really give advice or make how-to’s about embroidery, but there are so many good videos on YouTube that show how to do each of the stitches. I have watched a lot of these to learn how to do things! There are even examples of how to insert your fabric into the embroidery hoop or how to thread your needle properly if you’ve never done those things before. This is a truly a project anyone can do, even if you’ve never sewn before.
As far as materials go, here’s what I used for this project – you only need a few things!
Embroidery Scissors (any scissors will work!)
Thimble – This isn’t necessary, but I do recommend it because it helps to push the needle through that thicker material of the ball caps.
After[ I stitched the snowflake, following the seams of the baseball cap, I added the word “dad” at the bottom, as a reminder of who it belonged to. You could easily add a date, or anything else really, as long as you save yourself enough space for it.
Then I turned it over and used a simple running stitch to secure the excess fabric. This just kind of tucks the fabric in and keeps the rough edges from sticking out and being visible from the front. If you don’t want to sew this, you could also hot glue the fabric to the sides of the embroidery hoop.
I cut the original embroidery off the front of the hat (and also anything unique or special to the hat that I wanted to save) and I tucked that into the back little “pocket” formed from the gathered fabric. You could also sew it onto a piece of fabric and attach it to the back with glue. Another option is to attach it to a string and tie it to the top of the ornament and allow it to hang down beside the embroidery hoop. If it’s a small item, you could even just hot glue it to the front of the embroidery hoop as a sort of “decorated frame” design.
Attach some string to the top and any other embellishments you want, and you are left with a beautiful memory ornament keepsake.
I had many hats, so I ended up making several versions of these and giving some of them away as gifts to my mom and siblings. These truly make great, memorable, sentimental gifts to remember lost loved ones. If your loved one didn’t wear hats, you could just as easily do this with any clothing item: shirts, jeans, a tie, a scarf, or even a sock. You just need a little creativity and a lot of love. And a good story to remember when you look at your finished product.
Love and miss you, Dad!