Party Top-hat Made of Playing Cards




About: I love Internet and web especially. I also collect playing cards and interested in DIY, but lack time so I can't promise to have many instructabes up ;)

I always thought about playing cards being a great material for DIY projects and one of the things I pictured in my had to look very natural if made of playing cards is a top-hat for parties.

I had to look into Wikipedia to get real name for the hat (it's called "cylinder" in russian) and I still might have some parts named incorrectly - english is not my native, it's also my first instructable so please don't judge too hard. I'll greatly appreciate all corrections.

Step 1: Get Playing Cards and Stapler

First you need to get several decks of playing cards and a stapler.

The fastest way is to go to closest pharmacy - they always have different decks for sale (for some reason I like classic Bicycle decks for these projects).

You can also buy decks in bulk in your closest Costco, BJ's club or similar.

Most popular decks have red or blue backs and regular pocker faces but if you have some special project and you know where to look, you can find black backs, white (yes, empty) faces or even some colored ones.

As for stapler, you can buy the simplest one as I did or go for signature staplers like this red swingline stapler from Office Space movie.

Step 2: Attaching Cards for the Top

So you got the ingredients, let's start making it.

First, we want to make a top of the hat so we need to attach cards in a line long sides next to each other.

- Staple two cards overlapping them just just enough for one staple (you can quickly measure it by aligning one card to touch the circle on another card). Just staple them next to short side of a card.
- Check the other side to see if you stapled through both cards
- Keep stapling them to make a line of cards (amount of cards depends on a size of the target head - I got 15 and it was a little bit bigger then needed).
- Staple the last card to first one and try it on your head - it should fit relatively tight).

Step 3: Finishing the Top

Now, when you put it first on your head, add or substract a card or shift several cards a little to adjust more precicely. You'll need a staple remover for this.

When done adjusting (it's important step - it'll be too late when you have whole thing done), remove one staple getting it back to flat form.

Then get a ruler and use it to bend a edge of the cards up. It doesn't really matter how much you'll leave for bending - it will only affect the size of the ventilation hole in the middle.

Now, when you bent the whole thing, you can connect last and first cards together to see how it'll look.

Step 4: Attaching Brim

Remove one staple again and attach a card face to face, shifting it half the side.

Maybe it's better to do both sides simultaneously saving on staples and making the edge a little bit more neat but it's harder to handle when bending so you can try it with your second hat.

Keep stapling until you get whole line of cards finished. Keep in mind that you'll have last card shifted the same direction first one was.

Step 5: Add Some Height

Now attach more rows if you want.

It doesn't matter actually how many rows you put and if you attach long or short sides of cards.You can also shift next row against previous to make pattern more interesting. You can use one row of staples or do double rows. You can have additional inner layer of cards face to face with outer layer to make inside colored and so on - feel free to improvise.

When you're done with second row, attach them to make a cylinder - it'll be much harder to do when you have third row (depending on the size of your stapler of course)

Now try it on and make sure it fits exactly as you want it - it's still not too late to adjust the size until we get to making brim.

Step 6: Staple Top Cards Makng the Ventilation Hole

You can actually do this later but it'll make structure stronger and will help you with handling whole thing on later stages so I suggest you do it now.

I used special (tiny) stapler to do this but with some practice you can do this with a large one too. Just staple through cards - the more staples goes through cards the stronger hat gets.

Step 7: Make Holders for the Brim

No we need to create something to attach brim to.

Staple cards that match bottom color you planned for the brim with faces into the hat, one half overlapping the sides, shift this raw against the sides for a half of the card.

Then cut outstanding parts of the cards into halfs with scissors and bend them out so they spread out evenly. You can probably cut them into three parts to make an edge more round and smooth but you'll have to do more stapling later and that's a lot of staples ;)

Step 8: Top Layer of Cards for the Brim

Try your hat on last time to make sure that it fits perfectly - after this step you will not be able to change anything without unstapling whole thing.

Now attach top layer of cards for the brim by stapling them to the folded out half-cards you made in a last step.

Make sure they aligned radially and not skewed left or right. Overlap cards to cover about hakf to 2/3rds of previous card - we need relatively smooth edges. Be aware that brim takes most cards and it can make hat havier if you overlap too much or less strong and less neat if you overlap too little.

Also make sure you staple through the cards on the bottom - this will give brim needed strength.

You might want to shape it into oval to match the form of your head. I didn't try it but for better results this step be better done while target wearer has it on. Be careful with ears though - staples are sharp ;)

Step 9: Adding Bottom Layer of Cards

Now align a card on the bottom layer to match top level and staple them close to the outer edge.

BTW, Here you might want to use pliers or something similar to flaten the staple so they don't bother you that much when you touch them.

When you're done attaching all cards (remember, last card should go under first one), do another round of stapling closest to the sides of the cylinder having flat sides of staples towards the bottom of the hat - otherwise ends of staples will give your hair a hard time.

Step 10: First One Done, Make Them for All Your Friends and Family

That was it - whole project takes about an hour, or two when you do that for a first time.

Don't be afraid of improvising with sizes and colors.

When you're done, make another one for you friend, put them on and go to a party - others will just die of envy.

Hope you enjoyed the process.


3 People Made This Project!


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86 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

Huzzah, there is my hat! I skipped step 9 and added small pieces of bent wire to give it a curved brim.

1 reply

8 years ago on Introduction

here's my top hat. it came out pretty well. (i'm not sure how to use pics exactly.... i've uploaded them, but i'm not sure of the results so they may not show.....)

and my brother's fedora, which i made as a present.

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5 replies

i think that the curves were made wrong. if the top were alittle better made, and it sloped more, i think it would have come out better.... also, i was using cheap paper cards. plastic bicycle card may hold their shape better than the paper. also, paper cards have a tendancy to crease instead of .... 'round'? to curve...., which made the top part rather dificult. if i had to say, i'd say my fedora hat looked more like one of those hats people wear on safari..... not much like a fedora. also, when connecting the two ends of the sides in the front, i had to rip the card so that it would bend and yet still have the flared brim.... a better look may have been to use two cards, one for brim and one for connecting piece..... look at the bottom pic if you don't understand....(i'm not much good with words....)

i agree, though i think the plastic cards would be more apropriate because they wouldn't crease, not because they are stronger (though that is a bonus....)


8 years ago on Introduction

This is so cool - I know it's been around for a few years now - but I was looking for a different sort of hat for a Mad Hatter's tea party this weekend... I made mine in just a few hours, and then I bought some embellishments for the side to jazz it up - I love it! Thanks for great instructions (though I did get a little confused re: step 3 as I wasn't too sure how to make the flat top curved - but I worked it out!) I used only the black & white suits - so I ended up using about 4 packs (used the red suits for the anchoring parts and as an extra layer on the brim) but the end product looks mighty fabulous if I don't say so myself!

1 reply
Jake Turner

10 years ago on Introduction

Hey Sergey, excellent Instructable. Don't worry about your English, it's better than that of many people who post here. I made the hat with 2 and a half decks in about 3 hours. It complements my strange sense of style quite nicely. Of course there's photos. Thanks for posting this!

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1 reply

2 years ago

Hate to say it but because of the imperfect English I was unable to finish this project. I simply didn't understand what the steps wanted of me. :/

Sergey ChernyshevAppollo64

Reply 8 years ago on Step 10

Yes, it's not really necessary except that it hides the staple ends and will not tangle your hair and scratch you.


what i found worked really well was stapelling an old beanie and putting that so the edges just come out from the tube part makes it very comfortable and i made my hat a little too big and it also sorted out that problem but thanks for the instructable


i havent finished the underside of the brim yet but as soon as i do i will. its so annoying having a big head as ive already gone through 2 packs of cards


Reply 7 years ago on Step 10

here you go its not as neat as yours but oh well and i gave it a trial run through town earlier and got some odd looks but people seemed to like it

Dusk Shadows

7 years ago on Introduction

wow i have my own top hat i think there awesome
p.s can you put the hat on or will it just fall apart?