Leather SteamPunk Top Hat

Greetings fellow airship traveler! as your captain i require the proper attire of my crew whilst aboard my ship. It can get below freezing in these altitudes so your going to need a hat, but not just any hat. This ship is well known throughout the world as the best dressed ship in the air and if you want to continue serving, you best get yourself a Top Hat!!!!!

I have ALWAYS wanted a top hat but have never been satisfied with the felt ones you get at amusement parks that have weird colors and look like The Cat in the Hat rejected them.... 
in this step by step guide i walk you through how to build a top hat such as mine. 

PLEASE read the discriptions as i did not photograph everything

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Step 1: Needed!

Maybe you don't want a top hat that looks like mine, maybe you would rather have a stove pipe style like President Lincoln or taller and more flared out like the Mad Hatter

Paper and Pen, Sketch out how you want it to look, try different angles and styles until you figure out what exactly you want.

A prototype:
1. poster board, manila folders, card stock, anything you can use to cut, staple, tape, glue to make a working, fitted prototype. 
2. stiff wire, something if you bend it will hold its shape 
3. pencil, pen, markers
4. tape, glue and/or staples
5. razor pen

The Hat:
1. Leather, i recommend you use 3oz leather 
2. razor knife
3. fine point sharpie
4. Sewing Machine and thread
6. water!!! 

Step 2: Making the Prototype

I assume you already sketched out some designs and are eager to start making a hat. Lets begin by taking the solid wire and wrap it around where hats go, the crown of your head. twist off the ends to help keep its shape an make sure it fits all dimensions of your dome 

once you have that, go to your poster board and trace the head on the inside of the wire mold on to your poster board with about three inches of space away from the line. enough space to make the brim of your hat.

cut out your brim and set it aside

next take the wire form and cut one side of it so you can straighten it out to for the crown. mark off where the ends are and then wrap and secure the marked ends of the poster board together on the bottom and start slowly forcing the top of the crown to flair out until you reach your desired shape. if you think its too tall, cut off an inch from the top at a time until you feel its right, if you feel its too short, add material until its where you like

remember to keep fitting it to your hear every time you adjust

secure the seam of the crown with tape, staples and/or glue and flip it up side down on more poster board to trace the top

once you have all three pieces ready to go, its time to get the prototype together, i used tape but you can use what ever you want to put it together.

Tip: if you want the brim to have a curve to it, fold your crown in half by bringing the sides together and cutting a slight curve where the brim and headpiece meet. look at Tom Banwell's top hat pattern for reference 

Step 3: Take a Break!

think it over, make sure your happy with it before you cut your leather to make sure your satisfied 

break time crab rolls:

cooked instant rice, sticky with no excess water
sushi-nori sheets
imitation crab
and a bamboo mat (99cent store bamboo place mat works just as good as the sushi mats you pay more for)

place your bamboo mat down with the slats going horizontal, place a nori sheet at the bottom of the mat, spoon on  and smooth the rice until all but the top inch of the nori sheet is covered in an even layer of sticky rice. 1/3 the way from the bottom spoon on your finely chopped imitation crab coated in a fine layer of mayo in a horizontal line. take the bottom of your bamboo mat ans slowly start rolling the the nori up and over its self to until it gets to the i inch of blank nori sheet, wet the exposed nori with water and finish rolling. with the bamboo mat, firmly but gently pack the roll

place the roll on a cutting surface and with a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half and place the two halves side by side, clean the knife with a wet paper towel and begin cutting the pieces, cleaning the knife after every time you cut

mix and ounce of soy sauce with a pinch of brown sugar for your dipping sauce.

enjoy it and then get back to work

Step 4: Transfer Your Pattern, SEAM ALLOWANCE!!!

Dismantle your prototype and cut the crown down one side.

carefully trace your pattern on to the rough side of your leather 

remember: SEAM ALLOWANCE!!!!!

were going to be sewing this together and you'll need space to get your seams lined up 

cut out your leather and place the pieces in hot water for a few minuets 

pat the excess water on the surface of the leather with a towel

Step 5: Sewing It Up

i would suggest having heavy duty needles on your machine when working with leather.

start by lining up the crown and top pieces of wet leather grain side to ground under the foot and manually driving the needle through the first time by turning the wheel towards you, then slowly progress the machine forward with the peddle while lining up the curved edges. this will get more and more difficult as you go along so you will nee to be ready to manually drive the leather forward while it talking shape

once your crown and top are sewn together, size the bottom to your head, i know its cold and wet but you have too, mark the position and sewthe crown seam closed... or do what i did and leave it open, nothings wrong with that

next flip it inside out, its a bit tricky and you want to move slow and steady so you don't tear your seams 

make sure your seams are creasing where you want them to and then proceed to sewing on the brim

the rough side of the brim should be overlapping (a quarter inch) the smooth side of the crown where the head fits in the hat. if you made the brim flair you will want to take care to not sew unaligned.

Step 6:

once you finish sew the brim to the crown you will need to place the hat back in to more warm water and then begin shaping it.. i didn't take picture of this process because i needed to use both my hands and keep moving until it was finished.

i used a large coffee can and placed the hat over it. with a hair drier on high i started drying the crown while pulling the sides down resting the top on the coffee can to make straight-ish  walls 

then i put a cowboy crease on the brim and began using the hairdryer to dry the brim in the shape i wanted it in.

after about 20 minuets of shaping with the hairdryer, i had a fully functional hat (as pictured)

my nephew likes it too!

Step 7: Finishing Touches

you will want the hat to continue drying for at least 24 hours and then your ready to dye it.

i used Fiebing's Black Leather Color  
sponge brush
rubber gloves
and a well ventilated area

i evenly coated the outside of the hat and the underside of the brim. i used an excess amount on the brush in the seams to make sure to penetrate thoroughly.

after i used Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Super Shene  to give it a shine and wrapped an orange bandanna around as a band

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    17 Discussions


    6 years ago

    No it does not steampunk is Victorian era mixed with technology your telling me that a hat that is slightly Victorian is steampunk when it does not have the technology the equation for steampunk is Victorian mixed with tech no tech no steampunk

    2 replies
    The Ramblergabfolgado

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Perhaps you should reevaluate your definition of steampunk. You insist that it must include "tech" yet obviously not everything has to. For instance, most steampunks wear underwear. Does their underwear have to be steam powered or feature gears and such? Of course not. This hat is the hat of a steampunk; a steampunk being a person who is into victorian age "tech". The hat itself does not need to have "tech" to be a steampunk hat, though it is the perfect place to strap your goggles while not wearing them.

    A quick glance at your profile shows that in the ten days since you joined your biggest contribution has been insulting other community members. I hope you can find a way to connect with the rest of the community in a more positive way in the future. Instructables is a really fun and encouraging place to be. Occasionaly you'll find something you don't like, but generally constructive criticism or silence is preferred rather than seemingly mean-spirited comments.


    Reply 6 years ago

    You lack imagination, i will pray for the people around you!! Thank you for the view and comments. They always help!!!


    6 years ago

    You made a hat big deal I can make a hat to a paper one maybe I should put that in instructables for steampunk and imagination


    6 years ago

    Your telling a 12 year old that he lacks imagination all your 'design' is is a leather hat you made that SIR IS NOT STEAM PUNK


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable, I'm planning on making a leather hat myself. Where did you get your leather? I'm having a difficult time finding good options without purchasing a whole hide.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks :) I buy my leather at a Tandy leather, unfortunately, I too have to buy big pieces in order to make my smaller projects. It's such a bummer to spend that much money but the amount of projects you can do with a big peice of leather is worth the expense in my opinion. If you find a place that sells smaller pieces, let me know!!!!

    The Rambler

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey man, just stopping by to throw in my two cents. I really do think you did a great job, but I'll let you know some of the things I did differently.

    When you turn the hat inside out the leather is in its most impressionable state. I tried to flip mine over evenly without crumpling it too much. That way the leather was still smooth and straight. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of how I did that but I just kind of started on one side and went around.

    When I was forming it I pushed the top of the hat inward so the seam was hidden from anyone who isn't 8' tall.

    I also gave the front and back of the brim a curve instead of going straight across (which might have been easier because of a deeper curve at the base of the crown of the hat).

    Doing the double brim makes a big difference as well. With just one layer the brim can look thin, but doubling it up gives it body.

    Still, all of those things are just stylistic changes. I've seen hats done in all kinds of different ways. Keep making! I'm interested to see what else you've made. More steampunk accessories perhaps?

    3 replies
    KMSCoringThe Rambler

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I know it's hard to find time to do ones own project but to also review someone else's work in such a constructive manner shows your a genuine soul.

    As for more projects, yes there will be more steampunk, after I'm done costuming my friends for the renaissance pleasure fair this year, I myself have never actually been to one. It I sure am good at making the costumes!!

    And this weekend I will be adding another layer to my brim to "give it body!" I'll take pics and add them to the end of this instructable so you can see if your interested.

    Thank you again and I look forward to future interactions in our future projects!

    The RamblerKMSCoring

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You make renaissance faire costumes but you don't go?! They're so much fun though! I'd love to see some of those costumes on here too.

    I love talking about projects with people. It's one of the great things about this community, the positive feedback and encouragement from everyone, and when people ask for input from me I don't feel put out, I feel appreciated. So I'm more than happy to share.

    Good luck with that second layer. I'm interested to see how you plan on attaching it.

    KMSCoringThe Rambler

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Lol, I'm interested on seeing that too, I think rubber cement and the sewing machine again...... Lol maybe

    And my ren fair costumes will be posted, luckily I'll have multiple people to take photos for me while I work!!!