This version of mini top hats allows for the temporary use of plastic headbands, elastic or ribbon straps, as well as a variety of hair clips to secure them to your head (or wherever it is that you plan to wear them). Because the attachment point is modular, you can change from a headband to a hair clip to a ribbon easily and the hat can be worn with any kind of hairstyle.
There are lots of styles of mini top hat. In this Instructable, I'll show you how to make a flared hat using an inexpensive 9oz plastic cup as a base.
Step 1: Step 1: Supplies
- Fabric to cover your hat – nothing too thick
- A small piece of felt in a coordinating color
- Ribbon or bias tape (for a hat band)
- A clear plastic 9 oz cup with tapered sides, as shown (10 per package from Dollar Tree)
- A small circle (about 1¼”) to use as a template – I used a lid from a pill bottle
- About 3" of narrow elastic
- Corrugated cardboard
- A piece of cardstock
- Clear plastic tape
- Paperboard (such as a cereal or cracker box)
- Pencil and/or pen and/or piece of chalk
- Sharpie or other permanent marker
- Craft knife with sharp blade
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Embellishments such as feathers, gems, etc
- Fabric Iron – optional and use only if your fabric is suitable for ironing
- Optional – a tool, such as a high heat spatula or dull butter knife, is a good idea for pressing hot glue to surfaces like fabric, so you don’t burn your fingers. For experienced hot glue users, this may not be necessary.
Step 2: Step 2: Making the Brim
The brim of your hat can be as wide as you'd like. To decide what size you want, lay your cup, bottom side down, on several sample circles you have around the house (such as small plates or kitchen lids) and find one that is the size you like.
Once you've decided on the brim size you want, trace around the circle onto your corrugated cardboard and cut it out. If you have an uneven edge, you can use rough sandpaper to smooth it out.
In the center of this cardboard circle, trace your small circle template. Cut out the small circle using a sharp craft knife.
Use this cardboard "doughnut" to trace out a duplicate shape on a bit of felt. Then cut the felt circle (including inner hole). Next, trim around the felt circle about ¼” from the outer edge, making it slightly smaller than the brim. Set felt aside.
Next, lay pieces of narrow elastic across the inner circle of the cardboard disk, as shown. The pieces of elastic should be slightly longer than the hole. Use hot glue to secure them near the edge of the hole.
Step 3: Step 3: Covering the Brim
Lay your cardboard circle onto the fabric of your choice and trace out a circle ½-¾” wider than it using pencil or chalk. Cut out this larger circle.
Place the fabric circle, wrong side up, on your work surface. Apply a thin bead of hot glue near the edge of the inner circle on the elastic side of your brim and press it onto the fabric, making sure it is relatively centered on the fabric.
Next, you’ll be pulling the fabric around the edges of the brim and securing it to the bottom of the circle. Do this by putting down a short bead of hot glue along a section of the fabric, then pulling the fabric around the edge of the cardboard, bunching it up and pressing it down as flatly as possible as you go. You might want to use a tool, such as a spatula, for this so you don’t burn your fingers. This will be the case with all further steps requiring hot glue. Please use caution with hot glue!
Then secure a section of fabric OPPOSITE the section you’ve already secured by placing glue on the fabric and pressing it against the cardboard in the same manner. By doing the opposite section, you ensure that your fabric is pulled across the surface evenly. Once you’ve done this, secure sections between these two, doing opposite sections again. Continue until you’ve covered the brim.
Next you will be adding the felt piece you cut previously. Simply lay the felt down over the same side you just glued down, lining up the holes. Carefully glue it down by first applying a bead of glue near the edge of the inner circle, pressing the felt down well to prevent lumps of glue. Then apply glue near the outer edge of the larger circle and press it down well.
Step 4: Step 4: Covering the Top of the Hat
Lay the cup, rim side down, on a piece of paperboard. Trace around the rim of the cup. Cut out the circle you've just traced. This will be the piece covering the top of your hat.
Lay the top piece you've just cut on the wrong side of a piece of your fabric. Trace out about ¾” beyond the edge of the paperboard circle. Cut along the line you've marked. Secure the fabric to the paperboard in the same way as you did the brim—by pulling it around the edges of the paperboard disc, gluing alternating sections, and pressing it down well.
Step 5: Step 5: Making a Template
Covering the cup is best achieved if you've got a template for the sides. I have made a template and can add it here but, chances are, you don't have the exact same cup so it won't work. Instead, you'll need to make one. Don't worry. It's not very hard.
Lay your cup so that the top of the cup is on a table. Using a permanent marker, draw a line that extends along the height of your cup, trying to keep it at a 90 degree angle to the flat surface it’s sitting on. See picture. It doesn't have to be perfect but this line will help you keep your seam straight and neat.
Lay your cup, with the line you have just drawn along the short side of the paper, as shown. Tape the edge of the cardstock to the cup and then roll it around the cup so it is pulled tightly. Once the leading edge is covered with paper, tape down your loose edge with another small piece of clear tape.
Trim the “point” of the cone you just made so you can get a pencil in there to trace. Then, use your pencil to trace along the edges of the both the top and bottom of the cup onto the inside of the cardstock. Finally, hold the cup up to a light or a window so you can see the edge of the cardstock that is laying against the line you've drawn on the cup. Trace this line and don't worry about neatness.
Carefully pull off the tape and unroll the cardstock from around the cup. Use a straight edge to draw a neat line in place of the probably jagged one you drew. Then cut out your template.
Step 6: Step 6: Covering the Sides
Lay your fabric on the work surface, wrong side up. Lay your template on the fabric and mark about ¾” an inch around the entire template, except for one end, using a pencil or chalk. Be sure to add a line along the edge that you aren't extending. Cut out along the lines you've marked.
Along one edge, fold over the fabric about ¼” and press down the crease, using a fabric iron if possible. Then, use a small amount of hot glue to hold the crease closed. Press down as much as possible to prevent lumps.
Apply a bead of hot glue along the line on the cup and secure the unfolded edge of the fabric to it, wrong side against the cup. Press this down well to prevent glue lumps.
Then, pull the fabric around the cup, trying to keep the cup centered, top to bottom, on the fabric. The folded edge should overlap the glued edge. Next, use hot glue to secure the folded edge down over the already glued edge.
Finally, pull the top and bottom edges around the cup and use hot glue to secure them in place, alternating from top to bottom to ensure it is pulled tightly and the fabric is not distorted. It’s best to apply the glue near to the edge of the fabric so the fabric will be pulled around it smoothly for a neat look. Also, don't go overboard on the glue. Use only enough to secure the fabric and press it down well.
Step 7: Step 7: Securing the Brim
You will be using hot glue to secure the brim in place. If you want a sturdier bond, consider using epoxy or another adhesive. However, hot glue works fine as long as long you aren't planning on wearing your hat while engaged in some kind of cosplay warfare.
The brims require a bit of care to orient in place. First of all, the fabric (not the felt) goes on the top. The elastic straps themselves should be seen only from the bottom of your hat. These straps need to be placed so they run from back to front of the hat. Also, the seam you have made on the structural part will typically be along the side of the hat with the crease facing the back. If your embellishment will be on the front of the hat, however, you may want this seam to be on the back. It's up to you.
Take a minute to orient the brim and seam so they are lined up properly. Also, make sure the cup is centered on the brim.
Glue the cup onto the brim, making sure the glue stays under the cup and does not leak out onto the brim beyond.
Step 8: Step 8: Adding the Top
To secure the top of the hat in place, apply a bead of hot glue, about an inch or so long, to the top piece, just inside the edge, and secure it to the hat, being careful to keep the glue on the inside of the hat. Do not alternate sides for this because you’ll want to glue as you go around, making sure that the top to side seam is secured completely—no gaps. I've found that placing the hat upside down on a flat surface for a few minutes between sections of gluing allows the glue to solidify in the right place.
Step 9: Step 9: Hat Bands
There are a variety of hat bands that can be added. Use your imagination (or Google image search) to see the possibilities.
For flared hats, a hat band of ribbon isn’t going to sit in place neatly because of the angle of the sides. One way to deal with this is to use a wide ribbon, gathering it together at either the front or the side to disguise the fact that the ribbon is not curved to fit the flared sides.
Another way is to use bias tape (a sewing product) instead of ribbon. Bias tape is simply a folded strip of fabric that has been cut at an angle and can conform to the flared curve without distorting.
For a plain band, you'll want to cover your seam well. One way to do this is to use a small piece of ribbon to cover the seam. Crease the piece so that it will fold around your ribbon. Then glue it down before adding the ribbon band. Once you add the ribbon, glue it to itself, then fold over the small segment, tuck it into the ribbon, and glue in place, as shown.
Step 10: Step 10: Embellish and Wear
This is the step where you can use your imagination (or, again, Google image search). Things like feathers, bent wire, buttons, and charms make great embellishments. Add whatever you'd like, being careful to cover all seams and hide all excess glue along the way.