Duct Tape Top Hat




About: I just like to make things. I dabble in a lot of mediums and usually don't like to spend money on parts, so most of my work is made with leftover materials. I love different forms of storytelling, and have a...

Have you ever seen a more perfect fusion of class, style, and redneck ingenuity? Follow closely and you, too may have your very own wearable silver topper stuck together from one of the most versatile of materials.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

     Duct Tape
     A pen would be nice
...and that's pretty much it!

     Optionally, you may want to have an existing brimmed hat that fits you to help size your tape hat correctly.
      As for your work space you will need plenty of room with a clean, flat surface where you can stick some tape and pull it back up without ripping off part of your table or getting your tape covered in filth.

Step 2: First Thing's First...

Here is a technique I use to make large sheets of tape with no exposed sticky sides. It has proven itself as an invaluable skill when creating nearly any three-dimensional tape project, and is a central part of my tape hat construction.

    1. Begin by tearing off a piece of tape the approximate length or width of the sheet you want. This first strip will form its edge.
    2. Fold this strip in half, lengthwise with the sticky side out to form a crease down its center. Unfold the strip and set it down, sticky side up.
     3. Tear off a second strip approximately the same length as the first and place it sticky side down onto the first. Be sure to line up the edge of the second piece with the crease running down the first strip.
     4. Now take the still exposed half of the first piece of tape and fold it in on itself, matching its edge with that of the strip facing down.
     5. Flip the whole thing over (this is where that clean table comes in handy) and set down another strip of tape facing down. Match its edges so only the exposed sticky side is covered.
     6. Repeat step five until you have made a sheet of your desired dimensions. When you have reached that point, fold in the remaining sticky area the way you did in step 4.

** To make sure the sheet ends up extra smooth, when holding the strip of tape you are about to add, bring your hands together a little so the middle of the strip dips in. When you lay the strip down, make sure the middle touches down first, then place down the sides separately from the center, pushing out air pockets as you lay it down from middle to edge. I recommend waiting until you have the hang of it before trying this technique.

Step 3: The Brim

     The brim is the part of the hat that lies horizontally over your face, ears and neck. Start with a tape sheet about the size you want your brim. I would suggest using an existing hat as a stencil to make sure you have the proper shape/size. Otherwise, you could probably get by with just a general "O" shape. Be sure to trace with the "grain" of the sheet pointing to the back and front parts of the brim.
      I recommend using a gel pen for tracing. It marks on easily and wipes off with a damp towel.
     Cut the outside edge of the brim but leave the inside. Instead, cut out about an inch or more inside your mark, maybe even keep the whole thing filled in. After that, cut lines radiating from the center out, stopping at the inside edge you traced. This will give you tabs to anchor the brim to the body of the hat. The more cuts you make, the smoother the curve of the inside of your hat.

Step 4: The Body

     Start on the body by making a second sheet of tape, its length the approximate height you want your hat, and its width the circumference of your head, or the inside edge of your brim.
     When you build this sheet, rather than folding the end in on itself (step 4) leave the sticky part the way it is. When you reach the desired length you can stick the two ends together for a seamless barrel. Instead of starting at one end of the sheet, make your starting piece the middle and add strips outward on both sides.
    Decide which end of the barrel you want to be the top of your hat and shave off the uneven edges into a straight line. Lay the barrel flat and shave off the bottom into a smooth arc. Try not to leave points at the ends of the curve, make sure it's nice and rounded.

Step 5: It's All Coming Together...

     Now it's time to bring the brim and body together. Stand the body up vertically, with the flat (top) edge against the table. Lay your brim across the upward facing part of the body and try your best to match up the edges into a general hat shape. The two ends of the arc you cut should line up with the front and back of your brim.
     Fold in all the little tabs in the brim and tape them to the inside of the body. If you've been ripping your tape this whole time, you may want to consider using scissors to cut the tape holding this part together. A frayed end can stick to hair or peel up over time with use; this is where you are sticking your head. You should now have something close to a hat. Try it on and make sure the shape and size are about the way you want it.

Step 6: Put a Lid on It!

     To close up the top make a third, smaller sheet of tape. This one should come out a bit smaller than the brim. Cut out an oval slightly bigger than the inside edge of the brim and cut tabs into it.
     Take this piece and stuff it down the body of the hat until it is flat against the table inside the barrel. Be sure the edges are as flat as you can make them before taping all the tabs to the inside of the hat. When that is done, flip the hat over and make sure the top is flush with the edges around it.
     You should now have a recognizable top hat.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

     To make a hat band, pull out a strip of tape long enough to travel around the body of your hat. Take that entire strip and fold it in half, lengthwise with the sticky side in. You should wind up with a long, silver ribbon.
     Wrap the ribbon around the base of your hat. You are adding it here to hide the seam between the brim and the body of the hat, so try and follow that shape as best you can. It might help to tape on small anchor points to force that curve. Loop the end of the ribbon in on itself to make a small bow and tape it into place. 

     Now to fix up the brim. Rip out a piece of tape about half the normal width of the tape, and long enough to travel around the outer edge of the brim. Fold it in half, lengthwise with the sticky side out to create a crease down its center.
     Hang this tape around the outer edge of the brim, aligning it with the the strip's center crease. When you have it all laid out pinch down the tape onto the top and bottom sides of the brim. This will add some mass to the hat's edges, cover up any mistakes made cutting the brim and smooth out the curve of the brim.

Step 8: Time to Show Off!

     You may want to take this opportunity to check and make sure there are no areas of exposed sticky parts. You do not want that in your hair.
     The rigidity of the tape itself should be enough to hold its shape, but if you're worried make sure to keep your hat out of the heat or direct sunlight, as it may weaken it, causing it to fall apart on you.

3 People Made This Project!


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20 Discussions


7 years ago on Introduction

I found your directions pretty clear. I like how you make your sheets because they are really sturdy. The lid gave me some trouble. I think I should have measured it off the brim before assembling. I took your advice and used a hat to measure off of. It was a present for my boyfriend and he really liked it. He's modeling it for my pictures.

1 reply

8 years ago on Introduction

This top hat is really awesome, i totally wanna make one.

reminds me of this really cool duct tape baseball cap that i saw here


8 years ago on Introduction

finished it. i did it in black duct tape and it's now quite as smooth looking as yours, but for a first attempt at making anything from duct tape, i think it's ok (it didn't fall apart. yayyy!). it would have been a little helpful to have slightly more specific instruction on how to measure the inside of the brim and lid...that was a little bit confusing. also, how in the world did you get everything to be so smooth?! mine came out all...lumpy and disfigured. thanks!

1 reply

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Woah, sorry, I haven't logged in for a while.

Nice job! It looks great!
To tell you the truth, I have no idea how to measure the brim with its elongated shape, that's why I just traced my other hat. As for the lid, that was all guesswork. I will try to clarify those a bit in the future, though. Thanks for the input.

The smoothness could probably be attributed to the brand of tape I used. It was new roll of Duck. The backing on that tape is a bit less stretchy than other brands. Also, as I add each layer I start by pressing the tape on in the center and rolling the rest down each side, pressing out air pockets as I go.
Now that I think about it, I should add that, too.
Thanks again for the comment, it was helpful.


8 years ago on Introduction

whiteboard marker actually works quite well to draw the shape initially, since its REALLY easy to wipe off the tape. i'm still in the process of making the hat, i might post a picture later :) awesome i'ble.


8 years ago on Introduction

Nice, I've made a duct tape top hat before but it didn't look as nice as this. I may just have to make this one.


8 years ago on Introduction

I have heard about using a bucket as a form for the tall part of the hat


I actually want to be Slash, but I can't seem to find my little top hat I wanted to use... This'll be perfect!

PS: I'll have my Les Paul and my brother's being Duff with a bass for any gunners fans!

1 reply

8 years ago on Step 3

the o in the center scares me a little cause i dont want to cut it to big or small.