Need a cool hat to wear to a tea party? Looking for a unique box for collecting greeting cards at an event? Does your kid want to be the Mad Hatter or a magician for Halloween? Whether you enjoy “Alice in Wonderland” or just love a great costume, this post is for you. This technique can be used to build a variety of top hats, so you can customize it to your needs.
The first thing that you’ll need to do is figure out the size that you want to make the hat. If you want to make it to wear (like I did), measure the intended wearer’s head circumference, add an inch or so, and this will be the length of your main piece of cardboard (about 22″ – 24″ for teens and adults). If you want to use the hat for a greeting card box, you’ll probably want to make it even larger. You can also make a smaller hat and attach it to a headband.
Your options for decorating the hat are about as diverse as Lewis Carroll’s characters. You can wrap the hat in fabric (like I did), wrapping paper, or duct tape. You can cover the hat in paper mache and paint it. You can reference photos online and copy the hat worn in one of the movies, complete with the 10/6 price tag, or use whatever colors and accents that you want. The possibilities are endless.
– large, flat pieces of cardboard
– tape, glue
– ruler, pencil
– scissors, exacto knife
– materials for covering and decorating the hat
1. For my adult-sized hat, I used a piece of cardboard 22.5″ long and 12″ wide. I wish that I had done 24″ long instead, but I did a little “flair” at the bottom of the top of the hat, which made the opening bigger. Your choice. Cut out the piece of cardboard.
2. Measure and mark the following lines on your piece of cardboard:
a. 2″ down from the top edge
b. 1″ and 2″ up from the bottom edge
c. across the middle
d. every 1.5″ or so across the entire length
3. Cut the “cut” lines. Score and fold on the “fold” lines.
4. Form the cardboard into a cylinder. Butt the edges together and tape along the seam on the outside. On the inside, glue/tape a narrow strip of cardboard over the seam to strengthen it.
5. Cut three circles of cardboard that are 12″ in diameter. From the center of one, cut a 10″ diameter circle out. Cut an additional circle 10.25″ in diameter. You should have the following pieces:
a. two 12″ diameter circles = top and bottom of brim
b. one 12″ diameter ring = middle of brim
c. one 10″ diameter circle = inside top of hat
d. one 10.25″ diameter circle = outside top of hat
6. Tuck the 10″ diameter circle inside the top “flaps” of the hat so that it rests on the fold 2″ from the ends.
7. Glue the flaps down to the circle. Start at one side, do the flap across from it, then continue to crisscross – this will help keep the circle centered. You may have to trim the corners off some of the flaps. Don’t worry if the hat ends up a little “wonky”, it’s going to look great.
8. Fill in the center with cardboard scraps, if you want to add strength, and glue in place. Glue the 10.25″ circle on top.
9. In the center of the two 12″ diameter circles, draw an oval the size that you want for the opening. You can practice getting the shape right on scrap pieces first, then trace it onto your circles. For adults, it’s about 7.5″ wide by 8.5″ long. If the hat won’t be worn, you can just do 8″ circles. Cut out the middles.
Slide one ring onto the hat from the bottom.
10. Glue the flaps to the ring, crisscrossing like you did for the top. Glue the 12″ diameter ring with the 10″ diameter hole to the first ring, around the flaps. You may have to trim the ring narrower in some places. Glue the third ring to the narrow ring and the flaps.
11. The hat is built!
Isn’t that cool?! Now for the fun part: decorating.
TO COVER THE HAT IN FABRIC
12. Place the hat on a piece of fabric and wrap the fabric up around the brim to determine how much you need in order to cover the entire brim (about 20″ diameter circle). Mark/cut the circle of fabric. Glue the fabric to the brim along the seam between the brim and the top, working on opposite sides to keep the fabric centered.
13. Trim away any excess fabric around the top edge. Flip the hat over. Carefully cut an oval out of the center of the fabric about 5″ in diameter.
14. Cut slits in the fabric ever inch or so to create flaps.
Glue the flaps to the inside of the hat. Cover the flaps with a strip of fabric or piece of ribbon, if desired.
15. Place the hat upside down on a piece of fabric and wrap the fabric up around the top/sides to determine how much you need in order to cover the entire top/sides (about 30″ diameter circle). Mark/cut the circle of fabric. Glue the fabric to the side along the seam between the brim and the side, working on opposite sides to keep the fabric centered.
Trim away any excess fabric around the edge. Cover the joint area with a strip of fabric or a ribbon.
DONE! Add whatever decorations you like, throw the hat on your head, and get ready to receive compliments on the awesome hat you just made.