This is a blog is about the replica WWII era caps and other flight gear I have made.

Flying caps are a fascinating part of WWII flying gear. Like the A-2 jacket, they are still functional and stylish today. I hope to include a smattering of info about the original caps from which my caps are modeled.

The patterns I use are taken primarily from originals in my collection. One of the biggest challenges is to find materials in the correct weave, weight, and color. More often than not I have to dye the fabrics.

All cap materials are hand dyed, hand cut, and hand assembled. Starting with nothing and having something I can wear is all part of the enjoyment. It can be very time consuming but there is a sense of pride that comes with it. I wear one of my caps almost daily.

With each cap I make, quality improves and ideas for other caps come. Blemishes and all, I think they can be pretty convincing.

This is not a business nor an "Items For Sale" site. There is no way to recoup the time spent on these projects. Nonetheless, you might find an item offered for sale here and there. I can only hoard so many!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

AAF Shaving Bag

I finally decided that the traditional shaving bag I have always obligatorily stuffed into my backpack was just too large for my kind of travel. In fact, such travel is all we do anymore even on month-long trips. Back in the day of carrying full-sized shampoo, shaving cream/electric shaver, etc. the standard bags were fine. The new FAA limits disallow containers greater than 3oz. so... I decided to make my own in a style I liked using materials I was comfortable with - a sort of WWII flight accessory look. Here is what I came up with.  photo 6CD686D2-8141-4D30-92F9-EF4C3DC96A88_zpswcun7giy.jpg  photo A94926F6-7063-4DBF-8AAB-2E106060D2D0_zpsqds3r2ji.jpg

Thursday, January 31, 2013

B-1 Multi-color For Sale

This is a variant I have seen in several pics. One is in "Gear Up!" I'm really not sure it these were produced with varying colors or if these were private purchase "Flying" or "Fishing" caps. Regardless, this is the correct B-1 pattern. It isn't perfect but mine never are and the originals weren't either. As I have said before, one day perfection will be the sure sign of a repro. Friends and family have said I am more picky than anyone else would be. Still I am a little self-conscious when actually letting these go for money. Too big for me as it is about a 7 3/8 size. I can add the AAF stamp if desired but I would be surprised if the "variants" seen in the pics had them. Who can say? Let me know. $ SOLD $ + $5 S&H,&PP fees

Dyed B-1 For Sale

I made a tan B-1 with the hopes of getting that Admiral Halsey look.  I didn't care for the khaki look at all - especially with a the small amount of felting that occurs when you heat gabardine up enough to dye it.  The Navy caps were also olive but for some reason always appeared lighter in the B&W documentaries.  Can't say I didn't try.
This one is dyed orange and would look nice with some felt letters on the front.... or all over it.  It was too big for me so I will sell it.  If it were my size, I have no lack of finishing ideas for them!
This is about a 7 3/8 and has a bill of HDPE rather than delicate cardboard or original bakelite.
To my knowledge bakelite is no longer produced as it had many undesirable characteristics as a plastic.  The nice thing about HDPE is that it is as stiff as you want it.  It can be left flat or just slightly curved or it can be steamed and set to form about any reasonable shape you desire.
Fair warning:  The original-style  flat stiff bills will likely impart a headache over time.  Ask how I know.  All heads are shaped differently but I suspect this is why you see so many period caps intentionally cracked down the bill or flipped up to redirect the pressure.  I refuse to reshape the bill for comfort as I still like to keep the pattern original.  Colors are another story!
Less expensive because there are differences from the originals not least of which is the color and pigskin sweatband.

Orange B-1  $30 + $5 S&H&PP fees

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More on Materials

Bought some more wool for a few caps I want to make.  Some of this stuff is nearly $30/yd!  My grandmother, a phenom with a sewing machine, was likely turning in her grave as I typed that.  My wife, who doesn't sew, said, "That's just insane!"  Unfortunately, this is indicative of what "proper" materials cost.

Above are some of the materials I use on the squadron caps.  Navy (self-dyed) and red wool for the bodies and the swatches on top are samples of natural-colored wool I test-dyed for squadron numbers, etc.

People wonder why flight jackets and other reproductions vary so much in price.  Materials make a big difference but they cannot be why one product can double or triple in price.  Cost is still the reason.  Adding the proper material, hardware, markings, labels, and finish to an item can up the cost several times over.  Perhaps one thing not often considered is that a maker with the attention to such details is likely to value his time and effort as well as put into his project the same level of detail, effort, and overall quality of workmanship.  Think about this:  Why don't we find high-end makers of, say, reproduction A-2 jackets using inexpensive and commonly available "domestic" materials nor do we find top-notch materials used on a jacket made using cheap Chinese labor?  The two just don't match for many reasons and the overall vision of the producer is key!   Many don't care about the details and that is just fine but I think about the details, or at least realize them, every time I put an item on.  I prefer to not have to apologize, justify, or otherwise rationalize why something isn't the way I prefer.

Think about this concept when pricing your next repro jacket or repro gear purchase.  For that matter apply that to the next "anything" you buy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Opinions on some Repros

I had a question PM'd to me.  As far as squadron caps, if one is inclined, Googling "vintage wool baseball caps" will net a load of sites(Ebbets Field, American Needle, etc) that sell wool hats reasonably.  One could purchase one and add wool squadron numbers, etc.   But, for my taste, I have found that most of those sites have a fairly standardized pattern(particularly in the crown) applied to all genres rather than focusing on any that would pass as a WWII squadron cap.  Changing colors and bill sizes doesn't cut it for me but many don't obsess over such details.  After all, the origin of many WWII squadron caps is debated and likely varied.  I know these companies have to standardize or go out of business.  I like to be quite specific about the few caps that I make as I wear them.  Somehow this doesn't seam to impress the ladies!  ELC has a squadron cap for about $98.  It is as close as I have seen yet but varies a tad from the originals they show and one other forum member said it was so floppy he never wore it.  That might be a bit harsh as they are all a bit floppy and what we expect vs what is realistic might be an issue.  The sentiment is surely understood at these prices.

Spearhead has not had the best reviews from other forum members as far as caps go.  I was sent one of their A-3s and the shape is totally wrong compared to my originals.  The weave of HBT appeared off as well.  I have made two A-3s (lost one off the seat of a motorcycle 10yrs ago), but the material is hard to come by and I don't fancy tearing up WWII coveralls to get the right material. 
Juan at WWII impressions has some good looking A-3s but I have not held one personally.

As far as B-1s, Mash from Japan has one for about $70 and appears nice.   ELC has one for $125 and it had better be spot on!  Again, I have compared mine only to originals and have held no other repros of the B-1.

I do think it pays to be a bit imperfect as not to confuse buyers, there is enough of that confusion already - even with caps.  We expect perfection when there were never such high standards for these items back then.  Perhaps perfection will one day be the sign of a fake!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

B-1 Cap for sale

    Here are a few B-1 caps. Two are originals and two are mine.
    Here are the two reproductions:
The reproduction on the left is spoken for by another VLJ ( forum member.

The one on the right is a recent test cap and is available. It has the best color of any of my B-1s yet - you can see above that it is the best match to the originals.  That was from a batch that took a while to get right.  I may have enough for only one more hat with that material and must now source more.
The imperfections are all related to the sweatband so are not readily noticeable.
Size is approx. 7 3/8 (approx. 23" around head).

$ SOLD $+ $5 shipping to the CONUS. SOLD!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Theater Made Caps

These are out there but not as easy to collect. Original WWII caps are difficult enough to find, but theater-made gear has never been found NOS in a warehouse. And as they were easily replaced by higher quality caps after the war, few of these crudely made caps exist. Imagine you are stationed in the CBI and your favorite warm weather cap is somehow lost. You can't just pop into the local PX for a new one and waiting for a replacement through channels could take longer than the war itself.  You don't want to daily stand the beating sun on your head and face and no matter how laxed the C.O. you wouldn't be caught outside without something for your head nearby. Most units were equipped with a sewing machine and someone trained on it, apparently often someone in the supply dept. What to do? Grab an extra cotton twill shirt or a pair of chinos and barter yourself a replacement. Here are two such caps. One has a laundry number stamp and the other has O2 mask snaps. The construction is quite crude but certainly functional and well thought out. The first has a three piece crown, the second a four piece crown like the B-1 summer flying cap. The bills are quite floppy but did the job.
Below are a few test caps I made a few years ago that are similar to those above: