Introduction: The Great Carnac! (hat-making Tutorial & Video of Skit)

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Carnac the Magnificent was a comedic role played by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carnac was a "mystic from the East" who could psychically "divine" unknown answers to unseen questions.

A client of mine was hosting a dinner party, wanted to entertain her guests by re-enacting this skit between Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, and so commissioned me to create Carnac's hat. Read on to see how I made it!

Step 1: Materials(stuff You Need)

Some items she purchased at iParty(Party City, Party Planet, I'm sure there is a variant in your area). The decorative embellishments are from various craft/hobby stores.

The base of the hat and items to decorate it with:

  • mushroom hat
  • bead necklaces in rainbow colors
  • big, white feathers
  • gold rick-rack trim
  • tassel

Material to create:

  • 1/2 yard of 54" wide red fabric
  • 1/2 bag of polyfil, approx.
  • upholstery thread
  • (optional) glitter

Tools needed:

  • sewing machine
  • large hand needles/straight and curved


  • approx 1-1.5 hours

Step 2: Pleating for Volume

To create a bean bag-like pouf, I folded over pleats and stitched them down. My edges for the bottom were already finished off as I actually just used the bottom half of a drapery panel(the other half was used as the inside of his cape)

I set long machine stitches and just eyed the folds(they were approximately 2.5").

I stitched that edge over the base of the mushroom hat, overlapping where the edges meet.

Step 3: Cutting Down to Size

I laid the length of the hat down onto the floor, evening out the edges, and cut the panel in half.

I stitched the two ends together, to make a tube.

Then, using long machine stitches, I ran a basting stitch along that edge for closing up the hat.

Step 4: Increasing Size, and Hiding the Innards

Using Polyfil, I stuffed the hat until it was a nice fullness.

I then drew the basting threads as tightly as I could, closing up the hole.

Folding the raw edges under and inside, I used the curved needle to attach the top of the hat to the top of the inside mushroom hat.

I kept the threaded needle there for further sewing in later steps.

Step 5: God-damn Glitter(optional)

The drapery was a nice, dark red, but not glittery like Carnac's hat, so I wanted to add some glitter.

Krylon makes a spray glitter that claims to adhere to many things, one being fabric.

I brought the hat and a large piece of cardboard outside and sprayed the entire hat.

It seemed to adhere okay, but also everywhere else. It took a lot of shakes for most of the excess glitter to come off.

Glitter, be it spray-on or on a prom dress, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Step 6: A Tangled Web of Beads

I connected all the rainbow necklaces with a ribbon. This would be where I would anchor them from the top of the hat, which I did from the still-there threaded, curved needle.

I attached the other end of each necklace to the bottom of the hat band with clips, spacing them out evenly.

I then secured them all with strong thread.

This divided the stuffed hat into sections, resembling an over-stuffed pin cushion. Perfect!

Step 7: Rick-rack Cross Bead

I divided a package of gold rick-rack evenly into 8 lengths.

I used these pieces to tie/connect the middle of the necklaces to each other. This created a nice diamond pattern, resembling a tufted crown. Even better!

Step 8: The Feather(s)

Large, fluffy ostrich feathers work best, though getting the needle through the very tough quill, or hollow shaft was tough/diificult, as it actually wasn't hollow, but stuffed with something.

I sewed a variety of sizes onto the top, with the tops of the feathers facing forward.

(I also had a feather hairclip that I clipped on top, for extra fluffiness.)

Step 9: The Tassle

The final touch was the tassel, dangling right in front.

: D

Step 10: The Video

Rainbow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Rainbow Contest 2016