Introduction: How to Make a Fedora (Indiana Jones')

Picture of How to Make a Fedora (Indiana Jones')

The fedora is the hat of gangsters and detectives, its distinctive form drawing us into the era from which it emerged. This iconic felt hat is what comes to mind when we hear of such heroes as the intrepid Indiana Jones. My son is currently mad about Indiana and so his 7th birthday will be themed accordingly. This year all the birthday guests will be requiring a fedora to face the Raiders of the Lost Birthday Cake.

Nine fedoras to make and not a milliner in sight! I scanned the internet for fedora designs, but alas, found nothing suitable. This instructable is designed to give a step-by-step guide to making a cardboard/papier-mâché fedora.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need...

Cardboard (60cm x 60cm)
Tape & Scissors
Templates (see pdf
Scrap paper (for papier-mâché)
Cornstarch (cornflour) & Water
Paints & Brushes (or shoe polish)

Update: Equivalent template images have been added as an alternative to the pdf file. Click on the [i] on the image, to access the original 300dpi images.

Step 2: Prepare Template

Picture of Prepare Template

Download the Fedora Template and print it out (designed for A4). Remember to turn off page scaling, as the template has been designed for a 55cm (21.5") head circumference (depending slightly on your cardboard thickness). To scale the template to the required size, either use your printer properties (depending on your printer) or extend the template by sketching around it (adding 1cm to the inner radius, should increase the circumference by around 6cm). Tape the template to your cardboard and cut it out. When cutting out the base, take care to cut along the tabs so that the base smoothly fits your head. Bend the tabs up ready for attaching to the top.

Update: Equivalent 300dpi template images have been added on step 1 as an alternative to the pdf file.

Step 3: Fold Top Indentation

Picture of Fold Top Indentation

To form the indentation on the top of the hat, first fold the sides up at the outer markings. Turning the cardboard over, fold the sides up at the inner markings, taking care to bend the first fold back in the opposite way.

Step 4: Construct Top & Attach

Picture of Construct Top & Attach

To form the top of the fedora, tape the side panels together at their base. Place this over the brim piece covering the tabs. Turning it over, tape the tabs to the top.

Step 5: Shape Fedora

Picture of Shape Fedora

An essential feature to any fedora is the curve of its brim. Shape the front of the brim downwards, while shaping the brim upwards along the sides and back. As papier-mâché is applied, you can continue to form the brim in this way.

Step 6: Apply Papier Mache

Picture of Apply Papier Mache

Taking the cornstarch (cornflour), mix approximately 4 tablespoons with 1 litre of hot water. Tear scrap paper into strips, dipping them into the water and applying them to the card. Cover with two layers to aid strength, allowing to dry between each layer. To make a ribbon to wrap around the fedora, you can use the base of the top template as a guide. Cut a 3cm wide strip from the template sides and tape together to form the ribbon. Apply papier-mâché to the ribbon, adding a final strip of paper to form the ribbon's band to complete the look.

Step 7: Paint & Weather

Picture of Paint & Weather

Mix up an appropriate shade of brown (for Indiana) and paint the fedora, painting the ribbon a darker shade (brown/green or even black). Using water colours will induce a pilled effect, giving the fedora a felt like appearance. Apply as many coats as needed, allowing to dry in between coats. Applying shoe polish to the final coat, may help to give the fedora that weathered look.

Step 8: Keep Up With the Joneses

Picture of Keep Up With the Joneses

Now, all that remains to do is find a lost ark, temple of doom or your own holy grail... and yes, if you must, the odd crystal skull or two.


ChristianN37 made it! (author)2017-06-09

Needed a quick hat for the office summerparty so I made this in like 10 minutes just out of some stiff paper and tape. Had to cut it down the middle and insert a expander strip as it was too small for me and didn't have time for a scaled print.

Laughs were had on it's account :)

That's amazing... great job and thanks for sharing!

Kool KidzV (author)2016-08-22

i'm gonna use this to make a skulduggery pleasant costume!

rocketsurgery (author)Kool KidzV2016-08-25

Sounds great... if you remember post some pictures.

Kool KidzV (author)rocketsurgery2016-08-29


ShoopDaWhoop (author)2012-05-28

Sweet! Gonna make one outta old records if I've got some spare time!

I would love to see some pictures if you do actually managed to find some time

Hi. (I made a new account)

I did finish the fedora out of old records, but it looks really clumsy, and somehow I screwed up the template. I'll post some pictures and maybe I'm going to remake it into a full instructable.

Well done for trying, I still think it's a great idea! It'd be great to see any photos!

builderkidj (author)2011-11-28

I will be making a satchel soon!

Damian Leguizamon (author)2011-10-08

Thats be nice,im very happy with that,thank you instructables and thank you maker

Thanks Damian!!! Glad it might have come in use for you!

motoed (author)2011-09-17

I think I need to try to make one of these out of a beer box. How cool would that be?

rocketsurgery (author)motoed2011-09-17

Oh so much cooler than a vacuum cleaner box, drinking beer is slightly more entertaining than vacuuming. I would recommend testing the size with paper first (scaling the print job accordingly) so you don't waste your precious beer carton - you wouldn't want to have to buy another carton of beer if it turned out to be the wrong size, now would you?

mamiee (author)2011-05-16

Thank you very much for this instruction of the hat. I make Michael Jackson dolls, and this is just the hat that I needed to make his Billy Jean outfit complete. Thank you!!!!! Great Job!!!

rocketsurgery (author)mamiee2011-05-16

Thanks mamiee

happyjo (author)2011-04-30

OOooh! This looks so awesome!

rocketsurgery (author)happyjo2011-04-30

Thanks happyjo... maybe you could make a small one for the Perry the Platypus Inaction Figure... although maybe that would be going against Phineas' instructions... :) Thanks again

happyjo (author)rocketsurgery2011-05-03

Heee! :D

raith2006 (author)2011-02-23

I'm actually wearing a fedora right now.

And we're supposed to be impressed???

Oh, I was... Mr. Bowler Hat Guy...

Really... talk about the pot calling the kettle black...

handyjim (author)2011-03-04

hey dude this is great

rocketsurgery (author)handyjim2011-03-04

Thanks handyjim! Re: more cornflour... adding more cornflour would probably help the hat look more like one made from felt... so that would be good if someone wanted to have a more textured finish... Thanks again

handyjim (author)2011-03-04

hi i have one thing to say about the cornflour and water mix, i use flour and cold water but it takes a whole load of flour to do it so your method is better i was just saying

Puzzledd (author)2011-02-24

What a great idea. The hats look fabulous, and the party sounds heaps of fun. What "Indiana activities" have you planned?

rocketsurgery (author)Puzzledd2011-02-25

Thanks Puzzledd... We have a treasure hunt (much like my spy party - thanks for your kind comments by the way)... torn map... decoding hieroglyphs... an ancient idol (piñata) that needs to be lowered by throwing rocks into an old barrel... once lowered they beat it to pieces (to get lollies and the next clue)... snakes/rats... every child gets a turn to solve the problems... that sort of thing :)... my son wants a cake in the shape of the Ark of the Covenant... hmmm will try my best... I've started making other props.. they all have a satchel, whip and gun (my son isn't allowed guns but I have convinced myself that props are ok)... :)

Puzzledd (author)rocketsurgery2011-02-25

Sounds amazing! Fantastic ideas:D

I agree about the guns- we finally allowed water pistols for shooting at inanimate targets (and never point at people)...and our son has turned out a real greenie- now he tells US what we should do to help the environment etc!

What you're doing is worth SO much more than any store-bought toy: you're giving your kids a taste of real magic, and opening their minds to the wonder of imagination. Their childhood will be so much the richer for it.

Don't know how you do it all though, I take my hat off to you...or would if I had one interesting enough to wear;)

bcrevers (author)2011-02-24

I think I will try this.
Not to be a chicken, but could you not just use a ribbon, for the ribbon?
I wonder if you could change the shape and do a Aussie hat? That would fit this summer's summer reading program. hmmmmm
Thanks so much

rocketsurgery (author)bcrevers2011-02-25

It would be neat if you did... I'm sure you could use a ribbon... you might have to hide the join with a "bow" or band... as I found it was a little tricky to get a nice fit with a standard strip of paper (you might have more luck with a material ribbon)... thanks for the encouragement... I think maybe the Aussie hat could be your first instructable?? :)

Tomcat94 (author)2011-02-24

I've wanted a fedora for the longest time... But my head is too big, even for the XXL size. :(

I was hoping this was an instructable on how to make an actual fedora... That way, I could finally make a fedora that actually fits my head... :'(

rocketsurgery (author)Tomcat942011-02-25

Oh sorry Tomcat94... I'm sure you could actually use the idea to make a fedora mould (cardboard can be moulded really well, especially when damp)... you could then spray it with a lacquer (to harden it) and use traditional felting techniques... then you could have that fedora (in your size)... hope you get your fedora one day (I have a super-sized head too)... there are good hat mould guides on the web...

caarntedd (author)2011-02-23

You say Indiana Jones, but I see Freddy Krueger.

marxdarx (author)caarntedd2011-02-24

Both are fedoras. They do look similar. I can see both :)

buchd (author)2011-02-24

If you were looking for more info on the Indiana Jones fedora, you should check out and the forum there, It has a lot of good information and the folks are anal about details. =)

darknessfalls (author)2011-02-23

i just made a paper mockup, and was very sad to say id didnt fit... but as soon as i get the gear, i am gonna scale it up from there... for now it just hangs on the wall

Yes, I have a 60cm (23.5") head circumference. I found that if you add around 1cm (0.4") to the radius of the internal circumference, this increases the circumference by around 6cm (2.4")... scaling with printer properties seems the easiest way forward... thanks for trying it out :)

well i will mess around with that over the weekend when i have time, hopefully i will get it to work for me (because indy is awesome, and if i can get this made it will revive the indy Halloween costume which got cancelled due to no hat)

oh and im not very good with adobe, do you think you can load the pieces up as individual pictures? that way i think i can adjust the scaling better

Added 300dpi image files (see step1 - materials)... hope that helps

thank you!

akagoldminer (author)2011-02-23

I think I will make one and coat it with fiberglass and resin inside and out instead of paper mache and add a terrycloth sweat band to it and maybe some foam padding if needed. Great instructable!!!!!

That sounds very advanced... thanks for the encouragement

Not really I will make it from poster board at first then adjust for size then you just mix up some resin brush it on and then press in a layer of woven fiberglass matting then coat with another layer of resin. To finish just sand a little and a coat of glazing putty then sand again and primer and paint. thinking of doing this for a Green Hornet Costume for next years Halloween.

its actually very easy to do, ive done it for other things (a helmet from a video game)

handyjim (author)2011-02-23

i love this idea my nephew wants a fedora for a performance he is doing at his school and this has saved me a lot of time trying to find one thanks! :)

rocketsurgery (author)handyjim2011-02-23

I hope it turns out well :)

kelseymh (author)2011-02-23

Very nice papercraft project! Are you going to follow up with "How to Make an Ubuntu?" :-D

rocketsurgery (author)kelseymh2011-02-23

Thanks... I never was a Debian fan... preferring the RPM flavours instead... maybe How to Make SUSE from Cardboard :)

About This Instructable




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