DIY Top Hat

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Top hats were everyday hats in the 19th century.
Top hats were everyday hats in the 19th century.

Top hats are usually worn for special occasions, but you can easily make your own top hats for formal wear or fun. You can make them for costumes instead of buying uncomfortable plastic ones from costume stores. The “cat in the hat” top hat is colorful, with alternating bands of color, and has become an icon. It follows the same steps as a regular top hat but with alternating color bands. Some top hats stand upright, while others are meant to tilt. The fabric you choose to make your top hat will depend on how upright you want your hat to be.

Things You'll Need

  • Black craft felt (24 inches squared)
  • Other color craft felt (24 inches squared)
  • Black thread
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric pen
  • Scissors

Step 1

Choose a second color of craft felt. The usual choices are white, silver or a shiny black.

Step 2

Cut two brim pieces, three bands and one top piece of the black craft felt. The brim is a circle 15 inches in diameter. The two bands should be 24 inches by 3.5 inches. The top piece should be a circle eight inches in diameter.

Step 3

Cut one band piece of the other craft felt 24 inches by 3.5 inches.

Step 4

Lay the two pieces of brim on top of each and sew them together 1/8 of inch from the outside.

Step 5

Draw a 6 inch (or the diameter of your head) diameter circle with the fabric pen in the middle of the two brim pieces. Cut out that circle.

Step 6

Turn the brim inside out and iron the liner, either side of the brim. Then sew the liner half an inch in.

Step 7

Sew the three black bands together, edge to edge along the 24 inch side, 1/8 of an inch in. Then sew the other color band at the bottom. Unfold the bands and iron out.

Step 8

Place the bands “wrong side up” on the top piece and sew them together starting an inch in. There should be an inch left over on both sides of the bands.

Step 9

Turn the bands and top combo inside out and thread them through the hole in the brim. Line up the middle of the brim with the side of the bands opposite the open flap.

Step 10

Sew bands/top combo to the brim starting from the middle, going right and stopping at the rear center. Then start at the middle again, going left, and stop at the rear center again.

Step 11

Turn the hat inside out and squash it flat so you can line up the excess parts of the bands with the top. Sew the bands together along that line. Cut off any remaining excess band fabric.

Step 12

Turn the hat right side out and wear it.

Tip

  • If you want your hat to remain more upright, use a thicker fabric, artificial fur or vinyl upholstery. Heaver fabrics though require more heavy-duty sewing needles that can be bought in any craft store.

    Make the hat taller or shorter by making more or removing bands.

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