Introduction: Riveting Cereal Box Top Hat

Can you imagine having a wardrobe of personalised top hats? Want to try something different but not spend money on an actual hat? Here I will show you how to make a top hat out of a cereal box (and other bits and pieces) and how to decorate it all steampunk like!

This hat is shaped to fit your head rather than an uncomfortable standard circle so you will be able to wear with comfort :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools


light cardboard (cereal box is good)

heavy cardboard

heavy paper/card

plain newsprint





Small beanie/hat/toque


Glue gun




Step 2: Shaping the Top of the Hat

I lined mine with a beanie so all the measurements and fitting were done with this in mind. it is better to make the hat a little bigger, than risk it being too small once you finish.

1. Take the cereal box and flatten it out. Roll it around a jar or something similar to get rid of the corners - I found pressing down on corner seams as I rolled helped.

2. Snip in along the bottom edge a couple of cm. As you can see in the photo, I used the cereal box flaps for this so had an existing bend line to work to. These sections will fold out and help hold the brim onto the hat.

3. Decide how tall you want your hat to be, and trim straight around the edge

3. Size the hat around your head. Shape doesn't matter so much at the stage, but leave a bit of room for lining if you want it, and more importantly, extra room for things to shrink up as they inevitably do! (can you tell I made one too small??)

4. Glue the long edge making sure the two edges are aligned. Staple to hold.

Step 3: Making and Attaching the Brim and the Top.

It is very important to get this right or the hat will not fit right. The brim needs to be a close approximation to the shape and size of your head. You can make it a bit larger and line it with a beanie to make this a little less critical! The shaping of the brim will be a little trial and error to get right.

1. Set the top part of the hat down on the heavier cardboard and trace loosely around the outside of it. I pressed in a bit to give me a bit of leeway when shaping.

2. Cut the hole out then set it on your head. Use a pencil to mark areas that need to be trimmed and trim until you are satisfied with the fit. Again you need it to be slightly bigger than a prefect fit as the top fits inside it. The photos show the brim before where it does not sit properly on the head, and where i marked it to take more cardboard out. The second set of photos on the head show the cardboard fitting loosely in the place I want the hat to sit.

3. Decide on the width of the brim and use a compass or another bit of card like I did to measure out the outer edge of your brim. Cut.

4. Trace the brim piece onto a second bit of cardboard and using the compass or bit of cardboard trace the inner circle again - this piece will be the top of the hat.

5. Cut the top out, then cut in from the outer edge to just inside the inner ring (too big and you wont be able to get the brim over), making sections you can fold down and use to attach the piece to the hat. Cut out every second section to make it easy to attach.

6. Bend and glue each of the folded sections then fit the hat over the top. Firmly press each section into the hat and tape to hold while the glue dries. Its doesnt matter if the top is not perfectly flush as we will papermache it to finish it!

7. Once dry, set the hat top down on the table and slide the brim over the top and down to the sectioned edge. Make sure it is the same as the top - front at the front. Turn the hat back over then glue the sections onto the brim. Turn the hat up the right way and weight it down to make sure the brim is firmly secured to the hat while the glue dries.

Step 4: Interlude: Making Paste

I have tried a variety of methods for making paste and this was by far the most successful! Nice and smooth :)




Measuring cup


Measure 1 part flour to 5 parts water into the pot and mix with a whisk. Boil about 3 minutes and let cool.

Go ahead and paste!

Step 5: Decorating the Hat: Paper Mache

The first job when papermache'ing is to cover all the seams, edges and any pictures of writing that might be visible. I put at least three layers on these areas, with one or two layers everywhere else.

1. Tear newsprint into small workable pieces

2. Paint paste on hat/newsprint and apply.

3. Cover with more paste if necessary to hold down edges.

The second layer of papermache is to make the 'metal plates' for the final look.

1. Cut the card into different size/shape squares/rectangles

2. Paste them at random, making sure they overlap in places.

Leave to dry.

Step 6: Decorating the Hat: Riveting and Painting

Once the glue is all dry it is time to steampunk up. The idea is that each of the pieces of card is a separate metal plate that has been riveted onto the hat.

1. Heat your glue gun and apply a small blob wherever you want a rivet. I did them in each corner then spaced between. In addition I did a ring around the inside and outside of the brim, and a ring around the top of the hat.

2. Gently press down on the blob before it cools completely to smooth the top off.

3. Once cool, use a craft knife to cut off any excess glue.

4. Paint the whole hat with your base colour of choice - black works the best! You may need two coats depending on your paint.

Step 7: Decorating the Hat: Burnishing

Once the base coat is dry, you are ready to apply the metal look. I used gold paint on this hat, but silver or copper work just as well.

1. Put a little paint on a plate

2. Dip your finger in it and rub your finger and thumb together so there is a thin veneer of paint on your finger.

3. Rub the paint gently onto the 'rivets' and around the edges of the 'plates'. I found a light circular motion worked best.

4. Repeat until you are happy with the outcome!

Step 8: Lining the Hat

If you want/need the hat to be more comfortable you need to line it. The easiest way to do this is to use an existing hat.

1. Find a beanie or close fitting hat that you don't mind temporarily sacrificing to the gods of better fitting hats.

2. Use your hot glue gun to glue the beanie inside the hat. Make sure it sits inside the hat and does not show around the edge of the brim.

I found more is better here - lots of little dots of hot glue to give it plenty of support. A single thin ring will peel off as one but multiple dots hold for longer!

Wait for the glue to cool and wear!

Cardboard Challenge

Runner Up in the
Cardboard Challenge