Mini Top Hat Tutorial
This is how I make my mini-top hats, and I thought I’d make a tutorial because most of the ones I have come across are very simple. I think there are a lot of cases where that is more than sufficient, but I just tend to make everything the complicated and detailed way I think.
These will stand up to quite a bit of wear and tear.Materials:
- Fabric for your top hat (make sure to choose fabric that does not run or shred easily)
- Felt for an underlayer
- Feathers and trim
- Wire mesh - You can buy at most craft stores. It’s usually used to support clay or papier mache. One package will make 2-3 hats depending on size. http://shop.hobbylobby.com/products/activ-wire-mesh-781369/
- Two hair combs
- Glue gun, perferably low heat
- Scissors that aren’t too expensive, as the mesh will dull them
- Thread and needle
- Paper to make stencils
- Sharpie and pencil
Step 1: Decide how big you want your hat to be. This is all up to personal perference. The smaller it is, the easier it is to wear. I made this particular hat a little bit larger than normal because I wanted it to stand out as a top hat. You will need to cut three pieces. The first is the hat brim. Either freehand this shape (I fold the paper in half and draw my shape out) or find an object such as a lid to a food container that you like the size of. Once you have your shape, draw a second circle or oval inside the second. This will be the width of your brim. You can either cut this hole out, or trace it using a second piece of paper. This will be the top of your hat. Next, use a sheet of paper and wrap it around the smaller circle to determine the length of your hat middle (shaft?? Lol). Increase the length by about 1/4” so you have overlap. Decide how tall you want your hat to be, and add about 1.5” to the top, because this will be divided evenly between the top and bottom to attach the brim and top.
Step 2: Trace out your three shapes on mesh with Sharpie pen. Place paper underneath to avoid marking up your work surface. You can use your small top circle to trace out the center on the brim. Trace and cut a second set of shapes from felt. Cut the brim slightly larger than your wire, so that the wire will be fully encased. Trace and cut a third set from your chosen exterior fabric. When you cut the brim piece, DO NOT cut out the center hole. Instead, cut a very small hole in the center, and cut flanges shaped like pie pieces to the edge of the interior brim. Look at the picture in step 5 if you need a visual. Also cut your very top small circle piece with an extra ½” fabric all around.
Step 3: Begin assembly of armature. Roll Your middle piece slightly to insert it through the hole on the brim, with about ¾ “ sticking out below. Cut the part that is sticking out into about 1/2” tabs all the way around, and fold them back so that they create a flange for the brim to rest on.
This is where having a low temp glue gun comes in handy. Put a small dot of glue on the brim and squeeze the flange down on to it so the metal from both pieces is glued together. You only need to pinch it a second or two. On the side of your hat center piece there is about a ¼” overlap, glue this shut as well.
Once the process is completed, turn the hat over so its sitting on the brim, and repeat the process for the top of the hat, gluing the smaller wire circle to the flanges at the top. At this point you should have a finished wire armature.
Step 4: Glue on your felt pieces. It usually works best to add the top of the brim, then the underside, then around the middle shaft, then the top. This may seem like an extra step since you will be adding fabric over it, but there is a reason. If you glue your fabric directly over the armature, especially if it is more delicate fabric, you will be able to see the pattern of the mesh through the fabric. This is especially true with velvets. Hence, the extra step.
Step 5: It’s time to add the fabric. We have all of our fabric cut but the top brim covering. So take a square of fabric that gives you at least an inch all around your brim, and center your small top circle stencil, trace, and cut out. Put this over the top of your hat form, and slide it down until it is flat on the brim.
Trim the fabric around the edge of the brim, giving yourself at least an inch all the way around to fold under. Turn the hat over, and cut tabs in the fabric and glue down. Be careful not to cut too close to the edges as you don’t want the cuts to run over the edges of your brim. Glue the brim piece down you already cut out over the bottom piece and then trim and glue the interior flanges into the shaft of the hat.
Turn your hat over again. Next, glue your very top piece on. Like we have before, cut flanges and glue the top to the shaft of the hat. Next we will prepare the fabric to glue to the shaft. Iron under about ¼’ both at the bottom, and at the side of your rectangle. Glue inside this fold sparingly so that you have a clean sharp edge. Begin by gluing down your fabric at the join of the brim and shaft with the folded edge facing in, so you have a nice clean line. Make sure that your folded side seam ends up on the outside, glued over the top of your raw edge.
Step 6: Finishing. At this point, smooth the fabric in any places you need to, and add glue. Tip- for any places where your glue shows, you can use a matching sharpie pen and color over it to reduce the visibility. Add in your combs at this point. I sewed one on either side. Two will keep the hat from flopping to the side when you bend forward. Personally I think this is much better than attaching it to a headband because it doesn’t interfere as much with hairstyles.
Choose trims, feathers, buttons, etc. and decorate your hat to match your chosen theme.
Because you have a wire armature, you can also fold the brim up or down in certain spots if you like. You’re done!
Here is another example of a hat made using this method.
I made PDF of this tutorial, send me a message with your email address if you would like it. Thanks for reading, and have fun!
Pictures and instructions, ©Destiny Augustine, 2010