It has been a crazy few weeks here and with making costumes, Mad Hatter’s Top Hat and designing sets as well as doing a few photoshoots inbetween, I have not had a chance to share how I have made the Top Hat! So here it goes, but again, with any “how to tutorial”… it will be long and photo heavy ! (again, sorry for the photo quality, it was taken with my phone!)
Your supplies: You will need Scissors, glue gun and glue sticks, heavy duty cardboard or cardstock, pen, cardboard knife and cutting board, dinner plate, wire, 1m medium weight fabric for hat and extra complimentary fabrics for the sash. Dress makers “iron-on-stiffening fabric”, decorative trim. Also other decor pieces like ribbon flowers, broaches, feathers ect.
I was not planning on using ordinary card stock because I thought it would damage to easily when I use it multiple times on photoshoots and therefore opted for a sturdier cardboard that I got from my local framers shop. (I asked for their discarded mat boards and got it for free as they were going to throw it out anyways) If this is a “once-off” hat, then normal cardstock will do the job just fine.
Start by cutting a piece of aproximately 60cm x 25cm (average head circumference is about 55cm but measure yours to be sure.) Overlap the cardboard to where it fits your head well and add about 1.5cm for all the fabric going under the hat or it will be to tight. Use duct tape and the glue gun to secure the overlapped piece together. Take your dinner plate that is bigger in size than the 55cm circumference and trace on a new piece of cardboard and cut out. This top will be bigger than the sides but thats how you will get the shape of the hat. Next, glue the top and side of the hat together as shown in the image below.
Once the glue has dried, place the hat on the edge of your fabric about 30cm up from the bottom of the fabric. Start where the duct tape is taped on your hat (this will be your marker to help you to know where to stop again) and with a pen start tracing the top and bottom of the hat simultaniously and whilst slowly rolling the hat in the motion it wants to go…..kinda like when you are recovering a lampshade. You will end up with a round, cicular piece of fabric. Add about 2cm to your pen marks top and bottom and also on the ends to allow for overlapping and cut on the new line. (This is to allow the fabric to go over the top and underneath the hat rim when you glue it on.)
Now start one side top or bottom (doesn’t matter) and glue a small piece first. Stretch the fabric taught and glue the top/ opposite side and repeat until you get to the end. Remember to work slowly and in small sections or the fabric will not pull tight correctly. this is the only tricky part. (My hat appears krinkled but it is the thick cardboard I had to manipulate to bend but you will not see this once done.) When you reach the end, fold the remaining piece of fabric in onto itself and glue the seam. (I also hand sewed this part to be able to tightend the fabric around the hat even more.)
Place the half hat onto your remaining fabric and trace the head size of the hat onto the fabric.
Measure your wire around this round circle wide enough to make the rim of the hat. I just guessed and until it looked scaled to me. Tie the ends of the wire together. Trace a second line around the edge of the wire but add 2cm again for the fabric to stretch over and under the rim. Inside out also 2cm inside of the line to allow the fabric to go around the inside of the hat. Cut 2 pieces of the iron-on-stiffening to fit inside the drawn lines and iron only one of them into place. (The second one will be used later) Cut the centre out to resemble the picture below.Cut small incisions to the drawn first line where the hat will sit, so the fabric will be able to go around the bottom of the hat.
Position the round circle on the underside of the hat with the black stiffening towards the bottom of the hat. When everything is nice and centrered, start to glue this into place on the inside of the hat. Make sure to glue opposite pieces criss crossing as you go, to make sure the tension is even and the circle does not go scew or pull in a funny way.Once this is done, you can proceed to place the wire on the edge of the black iron-on-stiffening and secure it evenly around with dressmakers pins. Then clue with the hot glue into place. Also work in opposite directions (almost like tightening a car wheel’s nuts) to ensure it is even all around.Trim the fabric neatly. Now glue the second iron-on-stiffening on the bottom end and iron carefully and quickly as not to melt the hot glue again. (place an old piece of fabric between the hat and your iron to not get any glue on the iron). Now proceed to glue the top part of the hat with a round piece of fabric you cut that is just a little bigger than the top, whist folding the excess in not to see the fraying fabric and give a neat finish. Pull the fabric tight as you are working to ensure you will not see any bulky folds underneath. On the seam glue your trim to hide any glue spills and to add a little pzazz off course!I added the same trim on the underside of my hat knowing when the hat rim is bent up, you will see a little of the bottom and trim peeking out from under will add interest and the hat will look finished and detailed. (and I don’t like messy undersides! ha)Now for the fun part! Add your blingy treasures on the hat like the hat pins, sash around the bottom end, feathers and pieces of card to make it all the more interesting. I used a picture of Mad Hatter’s hat (Johnny Depp in the movie Alice in Wonderland) for inspiration (I used scrapbooking paper I had laying around the house but you can make your own)
And you are all done!! Stand back and marvel at what you had just made. Also do a little crazy chicken dance!!I hope this tutorial helps and will inspire you to create magical, wonderful, crazy hats for your next dress up party or for your kids! Always have fun people….life is to short not to!!
till next time where I will share the fairy tale photoshoot and what I did with this hat with you!