READFIELD — Jarred Schmidt didn’t want just any old hat on his head.

The Readfield Elementary School fifth-grader wanted something really cool warming his brain.

Schmidt and 33 classmates designed, cut and stitched together winter hats as part of a three-week wearable art project headed up by their art teacher, Betsy Allen-McPhedran.

His creation, a fitted hat made out of camouflage fleece material, stood out.

“I wanted something different, so I decided to put a yellow shredded Mohawk on top,” said Schmidt, 10. “I wanted it to stick up so we put three seams at the bottom of it. I do a lot of hunting with my father — we hunt bear, and deer and turkeys — but I can’t wear the hat hunting. Some animals are color-blind, but some aren’t, and this could be a little too bright.”

For many of Allen-McPhedran’s students, this was their first try at hat-making.

Allen-McPhedran said she came up with the idea of wearable art hats after struggling with students who refused to keep their hats on when they go outdoors.

“I was always saying, ‘You have to have a hat on,'” she said. “Once they were outside the hat came off. They would stick it in their pocket. You can tell they don’t like them. So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t be fun if we did wearable art and they could design the hats and wear them?’ I wasn’t sure how they would react, but they thought it was great. They were so excited. The boys loved it.”

She said Brett Cox, a parent, donated $50 to the project. Allen-McPhedran bought 20 yards of material, along with thread and needles. Parents and teachers and the school’s volunteer coordinator, Nancy Moorman, chipped in to help.

“I had a great idea, but I needed help,” she said. “We came up with four patterns so they could do variations and I e-mailed parents looking for sewing machines. I had my 60-year-old Singer. Another mom donated one and the school had one, so we had three machines.”

Allen-McPhedran said the project involved learning a skill, sewing, along with math, art and photography.

Madeleine Ricker, 11, said sewing her red-and-black-checkered stocking hat with a fringe gave her confidence to tackle other sewing projects.

“With all the patterns we had to work with, and we got to design what we’re wearing, once I learned how to do it, it wasn’t that hard,” Ricker said.

Emma Plante, 10, pretty in a paisley fitted hat and tassel, said she was an old hand at sewing.

“It was really fun,” Plante said. “I got the sewing machine for Christmas, so it was pretty easy.”

Lily Welch, 11, said her household also had a machine for her to practice sewing at home.

“It was fun to learn how to sew,” Lily said. “I’ve been sewing a lot of doll clothes since we made our hats.”

On Thursday, the whole class had an assignment: create a background scene that they could stand in front of — donning their hat creations — so their pictures could be taken. It was part of the photography piece of the project, their teacher said. Their photographs will be displayed in the hallway on a two-dimensional board.

Emily Fontaine, a parent and volunteer, said she hopes the wearable art project becomes a tradition at the school. She said the children walked away with something useful that they could wear and take pride in.

“No matter what their motivation was or academics, they all dug in, boys and girls alike,” Fontaine said. “I didn’t see anyone not enjoy the project. That was a good part for me. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun, too.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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