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!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Comments on Caps

Many of us have grown used to the "trucker cap". They are simply everywhere and are what the general public now thinks of when you say "baseball cap." Since I started making caps, these production caps have become quite ugly to me. They are ill fitting and bizarre. They all look alike and have absolutely no soul. They are machine made by the droves in China, printed with every imaginable advertizing slogan, and are handed out for almost nothing if not freely. How many garages I have seen with such hat collections displayed - the main differences only in the printwork on front.  That's no collection - that's hoarding!  Honestly, without a color change or different advertisement on front, they look all the same.  I remember a co-worker who was wearing a "Von Dutch" trucker cap. Though at the time it had cost her about $85, it was nothing more than a mass produced trucker cap marketed to the trendy. When asked, she didn't even know who Von Dutch was. She said, "I thought it was a designer." So is today's "baseball cap". WWII caps are quite different for many reasons. At the time, and in service, they were equally common and non-individualized as warranted by the military. But they were well-made and very utilitarian. Though they were made to be disposable artifacts of war the materials used were still of a quality that allows them to survive. One must remember that although most men wore hats out of doors back then, the baseball-style cap was seldom seen on adults. All caps and hats back then, military or otherwise, were fitted - not adjustable. During the war, flying caps were made quickly on the most industrial equipment available but by war workers' hands. They retain that hand fashioned look and feel. The stitching isn't perfect and varies between each cap you see. Though it is fascinating to me who made them, perhaps the most interesting thing is what they stood for and for whom they were made. They were designed and tested for their effectiveness, not their style, for young men in combat situations. For example, the "sundowner" visor, awkwardly boxy, stiff, and extended, was designed to increase protection from the sun for aviators. The button, commonly found on civilian baseball caps and on all of today's trucker caps, was eliminated as they interfered with earphones and were extremely uncomfortable when pressed into the scalp when bumped inside of a cramped airplane or on any part one was unfortunate to come into contact with during a preflight inspection, during in-flight turbulence or other movement in combat, or ground operations.   If you have been around aircraft much you know exactly what I mean.  For some reason, things above your eyesight blur into nonexistence until you hit them with your noggin!
Though wearing caps while flying was actually discouraged fairly early in the U.S. involvement in WWII, it was still common practice presumably due to function. Caps of all sorts were not only used throughout the war, they were often modified. For example the officer service caps were often altered with the removal of the spring stiffener so that headphones could be easily fitted. This led the the famous "crusher" look. Iconic as it was, it was hardly necessary with the availability of other caps and helmets designed for such a purpose. Trendy was an understatement. Simply put, there are many reason that these caps are still functional today.

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