Introduction: The Harry Potter Sorting Hat

Hello Muggles and Wizard Fans,

As a teacher and a Hogwarts fan, I wanted something I could use that would separate my students into groups. This way they would work together throughout the year on projets in my classroom, and get to know their group members really well.

I wanted something that was not only fun, but would randomly select the students into groups. I am not concerned with the groups being even, but more so that students feel included and part of a group. As a teacher it is frustrating when you ask students to get into groups and the same students get left out while others group together with the same people. For this reason I chose the Sorting Hat to help eliminate the problem of students feeling like they are not special enough to be part of a particular group, and it forces students out of their comfort zone to work with others that they might not have chosen to work with. This way as students work together they will discover things that they have in common with each other in the group setting, and building new friendships as they work together in their "House" teammate projects.

Step 1: Muggle Time

Get ready to have some serious Muggle fun, because of course we can't simply use our "magic wands" to whip this Hat up!

Step 2: ​Gather Your Materials

For this instructable you could probably find most of it at a thrift store. Here are the following items that you will want to go gather together for this project.

  • Your dusty Muggle sewing machine (to be honest, mine never sees the light of day!)
  • Tools needed to sew and solder.
  • 1 yard of light-weight faux leather.
  • 1 witch hat (why remake the wheel or in this case a hat if you don't have to!)
  • 1 metal spider ornament (make sure it is conductive to the material you will be using.)
  • 1 small road cone.
  • 3 zip ties.
  • conductive wire
  • Cardboard to make the mouthpiece.
  • Small piece of flannel
  • Measuring tools.
  • 1 Circuit Playground $24. (You can order it from Amazon.)

Total cost = $15 for all items. It will obviously cost less if you have your own hat, and don't use the Circuit Playground.

Step 3: Getting Started

  • Take the road cone and with your 3 tie-downs you will attach them between the slots of the cone so that it bends over. This is what creates the top of the Sorting Hat to bend over at the tip.
  • Insert the cone into the hat until it is snug at the top. Secure the cone at its four corners base with just a small stitch inside the hat. Here you can see the four holes that the cone came with on its base which makes it super easy to thread through and secure it to the Hat.

Step 4: Creating the Mouthpiece

  • Take cardboard and draw a wide duckbill that you will be able to fold in half. This is the mouthpiece for the Hat. For this project you can create a top and a bottom for this part and then overlap the two pieces so that it has a wide flat backing in the middle of the mouth.
  • Glue the two pieces together in the hat so you can get an idea where it will sit and how it will look before you finalize this process.
  • You can add a piece of dark flannel to the mouthpiece so that it blends into the hat when the mouthpiece is in place.
  • Now you can hot glue the mouthpiece into the Hat, besure to push the fabric of the hat in as you glue it so you get an indentation of the mouth.

Step 5: Creating the Top of the Hat With Faux Leather

  • Measure how wide of a base you will need. Depending on the size of the hat you are using it will be different for everyone.
  • You will then simply fold the faux leather at an angle, cut it and sewed the material along the cut edges.
  • Be sure to make the faux leather cover loose! You don't want a snug fit so that when it slips over the witches hat it will have plenty of room to play with the face that you will want to create.

Step 6: Creating the Sorting Hat Face

  • Cut a two inch thick strap of faux leather that is about 3 feet long. Turn it inside-out and sew the sides so that you have one long eyebrow.
  • Turn the long eyebrow inside out, (this part is kind of a pain, but worth it in the long run.)
  • Pin/tack the brow to the hat where you want the eyebrow to sit.
  • You will then hand stitch the eyebrow so that it is anchored where you want it to sit.
  • Hot glue and pinch the nose together where you want it to bridge in the center of the leather faux piece of the Hat.

Step 7: Adding Conductive Wire for the Eyes and Sound

  • Line up where you want your eyes to light-up. The inside of the eyebrow will hide your wiring, so you will want to create a small slit in a section of the stitching and thread your wiring into the leather. Be careful as you pull the wiring through so that it doesn't break. My wiring broke the first time when I slid it between the eyes to solder it. And the second time my LED light broke off, so on a helpful side note, DON'T use the big LED lights that look like Dots candy! The wiring on them will break really quickly. I would recommend using the smaller LED's that don't have wires on them.
  • You will then solder your conductive wire to the positive sections of both of the LED lights. (I used red wiring here.)
  • Run the wiring down through the back section of the eyebrow ropes and into the hat.
  • Next, solder the black conductive wire to both negative sections of the LED lights.
  • Run the black conductive wire through the other end of the eyebrow so that the red and black wires are on opposite sides, and running through the opposite lengths of the eyebrow. (For this project I threaded my wiring back into conductive tubing so that it was protected from fraying and breaking.)
  • You will not want to solder the pieces to the Circuit Playground yet, but instead tuck the wiring up into the hat so you can start on the brim and you will still be able to attach it to the hat without the fear of pulling out the wiring.

Step 8: Creating the Brim of the Hat

  • Measure and cut the brim a little wider so that you have enough length to tuck and sew under the actual brim of the hat.
  • Pin both the top and bottom sections together leaving it loose enough to still play with the face of the hat so that you can later hot glue it to the mouth section of the hat underneath, (this way it will hold the features together and look realistic.)
  • Sew top and brim together, be sure to cut a whole where you want the wiring to come through for your spider ornament.
  • Once you have both sections attached, and you are comfortable with where you want the wire to lay between the leather and the witches hat, you can finish glueing together any features so that they will stay in place.
  • Now sew the rim of the faux leather to the brim of your hat.

Step 9: Coding With the Adafruit Circuit Playground

  • For the coding you can use block code and JavaScript code in Adafruit.
  • Here is a copy of the sheet music downloaded from the Web. This program made it super easy to write the Harry Potter theme song, as well as the coding to randomly place students into the Hogwarts Houses.
  • The code plays the song and then sorts the students into a random House when the spider is touched. The spider is attached to the rim of the Sorting Hat.
  • You will then want to upload your coding to the Circuit Playground.

Step 10: Soldering the Wires to the Circuit Playground

  • Solder the red conductive wire to A2 on the Circuit Playground.
  • Solder the black conductive wire to ground section on the opposite side of the Circuit Playground.
  • Solder the yellow conductive wire to the underbelly of the spider on the brim of the hat. For this project you can just soldered it to the section of the spiders pin which you will want to pin through the brim of the Hat.
  • Now solder the other end of the yellow conductive wire to A1 on the Circuit Playground.
  • Stitch the sections of the Circuit Playground into the hat so that it won't fall out.
  • You should have plenty of room to slide the battery pack for the Circuit Playground up into the hat and have it clip onto the orange road cone so that it won't fall out.

Step 11: Finished Product!


Super easy, and really fun!

Your muggles will have a blast with this Sorting Hat!