DIY Beaver Hat Keeping Warm on the Kuskokwim Beavers History

DIY Beaver Hat
Keeping Warm on the Kuskokwim
Getting Beaver
Treating Beaver
Selecting Beaver
DIY Beaver Hat
They are really cute.
Live in North America,
Europe, and Asia.
Build dams that are
important for wetland
Build “lodges” in resulting
Connection between
beavers and their dams
providing good places for
salmon to spawn.
Fur Trade
Beaver pelts are a great raw
material for the felt in
European hats.
About 30,000 pelts a year
were exported from North
America in the 1790's
1700's to mid 1800's
Russians were the largest
exporter of furs.
Beavers nearly hunted to
Beaver pelts slowly replaced
by silk hats.
Beaver to the Yup'ik
“The parka she is wearing is one of
many that she made over the years.
She is a skin-sewer of great skill and
artistry. This parka is made of beaver,
wolf, marten, and wolverine, with the
borders at wrist and hem made of
cowhide trimmed with mink.
In the old days, the animals would
have been hunted by her sons and
brought home for her to skin, stretch
and tan the hides. She would have
softened the leather by chewing it...”
Yup'ik Sewing
Shell thimble
Ivory needle case
Sewing bag to hold needles,
Thimble, sinew thread, small
knife, and whetstone.
Squirrel bone needles
Skin scraper for scraping
and tanning skins.
Other Yup'ik Uses
Beaver Castor
"My grandmother used these
beaver castors [scent glands]
as medicine. The inner portion
tasted like pitch from a tree,
and they chewed them."
- Timothy Myers
Getting Beaver
Trappers in the 18
and 19th century used
various kinds of traps.
The best time to trap
beaver is in winter.
Today, you can buy
them in Bethel or
You can also buy
them over the
Treating/Tanning the Beaver
Traditional method:
1. Wash away blood and dirt.
2. Stretch and dry.
3. Remove the flesh and fat.
4. Paste made of brains and other organic matter
rubbed into hide and dried again.
5. Saturated in water and rolled up for the night.
6. Water squeezed out of hide, pounded to soften.
7. Smoked over smoldering fire.
Due to the difficulty of tanning hides, most people just
either send their hides to a tannery or buy hides
already tanned.
Selecting Your Beaver
Beaver furs come in various sizes.
There are various colors.
Variations in the browns, even
reddish. Black furs are all dyed.
Check your fur for holes. Small
holes are okay.
Think ahead about how you will
place the pattern on the hide.
For the inside of the flaps of your
hat, you may consider using a
sheered beaver fur.
DIY Beaver Hat
Not a top hat, but it will keep you warm.
1. I chose a XXXL brown
beaver fur. This way it was
large enough for one whole
hat. (If I were to do it again,
I would consider sheered
beaver for the inside flaps.)
2. With a pencil, draw the
pieces of the patter on the
hide. Consider coloring of
the hide so pieces will
match. Also, think about
the direction of the fur for
each of the pieces.
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
3. You will need to find glover
needles (size 7?).
You will also need tough
waxed thread (4 split?). I
used 10 yards of “4 split”.
4. Carefully sew the two
outside back panels
together. Start at the top.
5. Sew the left and right flaps
to the back. Start at the
6. Sew the pieces of the
inner liner together.
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
7.You will want strings/laces
of some sort to hang from
the flaps. This will secure
the hat when you are
driving fast on your
snowmobile. They should
be long enough to be sewn
into the hat and hang from
the flaps to your chest.
8. To sew the inner liner to
the outside, put the fur
together and sew it inside
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
9. Continue sewing the
inner portion to the
outer panels.
10. When you get to the
bottoms of the flaps,
stop and sew in the
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
11. After sewing in the
laces, finish sewing the
inside liner to the
outside panels.
12. At this point, the hat
is inside-out. You will
now sew the front panel
of the hat on. The flow/
grain of the front fur
panel should be going
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
13. Starting at the top, sew in
the front panel to the hat.
14. You can add some furry
beaver balls to the ends of
your laces. To do so, cut
some circular pieces of fur.
15. You will thread/sew
around the edges of the
circle. When you pull the
thread tight, the circle's
circumference will pull
together to make a ball.
DIY Beaver Hat continued...
16. Fur is probably to warm
to be all of the inside
liner. Choose a lighter
weight material for the
17. Use the pattern to cut
the panels for the liner.
18. You can use a sewing
machine to sew the liner.
19. Keep the hat insideout and hand sew the
liner in.
Price depends on your fur
choices (black is more
expensive, using sheered
requires a second pelt).
My hat cost about $130 ($120
for fur, needles and thread
were cheap).
Furs are cheaper in Bethel
than Anchorage.
You can buy a beaver hat
from $200 or more.
Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume
By Josephine Paterek (page 433)
Secrets of Eskimo Skin Sewing by Edna Wilder