Regulations & Instructions for the Sailmaker

For the Sail-maker.

Article I
No person is to be rated as sail-maker, who is not appointed by a warrant from the commissioners of the navy.
The Sailmaker is very careful to examine the sails when they're received on board, and is to inform the boatswain if he discovers any defects in them, or any mistake in their number or dimensions.  He is also to examine very carefully whether they be perfectly dry when they are put into the sail room, and if any part of them be damp, the first to a proper opportunity may be taken to dry them.
He is to be attentive to see all the sails correctly tallied, and so disposed of in the sail rooms, as to enabled him to find immediately any that may be wanted.
He is to inspect frequently the condition of the sails in the sail-rooms, to see that they are not injured by leaks or vermin, and he is to report to the boatswain whenever it shall be necessary to have them taken upon the deck to be dried: he is to repair them whenever they require it, and to use his best endeavors to keep them always fit for service.
Before he shall be allowed to receive his wages, he will be required to produce a certificate signed by the captain of his sobriety, obedience and attention to his duty.

 1808       Regulations and Instructions Relating to His Majesty's Service at Sea.  W. Winchester & Son.                 London.

Straw Hats

A list of things you'll need for this project:

  • 9/16th" straw plait available from Frank's Cane & Rush Supply
  • Linen thread
  • Beeswax, for waxing the thread to keep it from becoming at tangled mess. 
  • A needle of your choice.  The smaller the diameter a less damage you will do to the plait.

To start, you will want to soak the plait. Straw is best worked wet, or at least damp. Otherwise, it remains brittle and you may shatter the straw.

To start, you will make what I call a button. It is basically the plait slightly folded back upon itself to make the first spiral in a long series of spirals. This is the very top of the hat.

Think of the button as the top of a hill -- it is the highest point and any step forward is a step downward. Each piece of plait that you add will be under the proceeding piece.

It's good for drainage -- otherwise you'll have a catch basin for rain.

Details of stitches
The illustration above shows the basic stitch you'll need to sew a fine straw hat. The thread (shown in red) should come from underneath at the intersection of the woven straw (blue circle/point 1) and follow the lay of the straw and re-enter at the intersection of the woven straw (green circle/point 2). This will hide and protect your thread from wear & tear. 

Continue sewing round and round until you come to the first turn. You will need coax the straw to begin the downward corner. As you add plait it will stiffen the shape of the turn.

Joining two pieces of plait
Sometimes you will run out of plait and you need to start a new roll. This is accomplished by folding the ends and stitching them down fairly tight. In the photo above you can see the ends cause a slight bump, but with practice and care this can be reduced.

Continue sewing round and round until you come to the second turn. This corner outward is the start the brim. 

Continue sewing round and round until you have the brim of the size you desire. To finish the brim, you will fold over the final row of plait. This will firm up the brim and give it a little bit of protect from injury. 

You're now ready to venture forth on the deep blue sea or head to the pub with your mates.

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