18 steps to making a mini top hat (in the real world)

1. Procrastinate the making of your Halloween costume. You have plenty of time to put something together and your favorite TV show is on tonight. But you’ll definitely start working on it tomorrow. You promise yourself.

2. Initiate panic sequence the day of your Halloween party. You’ve dug through your closet and were able to throw a  costume together, but realize you need a cute mini top hat to top off the outfit.

3.  Hoard multiple empty cereal boxes in your basement. If you’ve actually done this, you were either featured on Hoarders or you were using them to make mini top hats and then decided you would make loads of them to sell. Later you did the math and realized you would have to make one an hour to be profitable. Sadly you were averaging one a weekend.

Cereal boxes for top hats

At least it’s not Lucky Charms..

4. Stockpile yards and scraps of tulle and fabric, along with baubles, buttons, and faux flowers because if there is a zombie apocalypse you know you’ll be able to sell them for a huge mark up.

Tulle and fabric

One day this will be organized. Likely after I fold the laundry and finish my novel…

(If you realize you weren’t proactive enough to have completed steps three and four, your hat making experience will require a trip to the grocery store and/or the craft store. This will add to the stress created by steps number one and two.)

5. Rummage through your supplies to find a color combo that works. It’s best if the materials are spread all over the floor so your cats can roll on, bite and bat all your precious materials. It will also annoy your husband.

6. Use the power of suggestion so that your husband decides he should go to the coffee shop and bring back your favorite beverage.

7. Pick suitable background noise. Music is okay. But I find a showing of The Hunger Games or Vampire Diaries works best. A word of caution though, the background noise should not compete for your full attention. This could lead to hours of watching and no crafting. I’ve seen it happen before. It’s not pretty.

8.  Begin construction. Because you’ve waited until the last minute, there is no time for patterns or measurements. You just use objects around the house that “look” like they’re the right size.

Tracing cup for top hat

I used a water glass to trace the top of the hat.

Fringes for top hat

I follow my traced line when cutting out the top, but actually cut a centimeter or two outside of the line. Then I make these little cuts to create a fringe. Then I fold them in so they can be tucked into the body of the hat.

Tracing bowl for bottom of hat

Then I use a bowl to trace the base of the hat and cut along the traced line.

The strip of cardboard (see below) that makes up the body of the hat will have to be cut a little longer than the circumference of the top of the hat, after the fringes have been folded in.

photo 1-2

This will make it so that the body of the hat ends up being the same width as the top of the hat, but will allow some overlap to glue the ends of the body together. The width (or short part) of your body piece will determine how tall the hat is.

cardboard mini top hat

To make it easier to form the body of the hat I sprinkle it with water and then rub it in a bit. You can now form it into a  tube and glue the ends together. If you want your hat to narrow at the base of the body it will have to be cut into an arc to allow for this. It is a pain but I just keep eyeballing it and trimming it until it is right.

For the base of the hat, you will cut a round hole in the middle of the base that is a little smaller than the circumference of the body. I center the glued body in the middle of the base piece and trace around it. Then when cutting, I follow the line, but cut about a centimeter or two on the inside of the line. Then I cut the little fringes to the traced line (as done with the top of the hat above) and fold the fringes in, so that they can be tucked into the body of the hat (see below).

photo 1-1

The outer line here is where I traced the body, and the inner line is where I would cut to leave myself space to make the fringes.

9. Pause to reheat coffee and discuss how unrealistic a certain vampire character is.

10. I forgot to tell you your husband is also working on a hat. His is a store bought top hat that he is embellishing. After about 20 minutes of work he shows you what he has done. Be careful here. If you are not sensitive in your critique you will end up working on two hats.

11. Begin working on husband’s hat. He has become frustrated, whiny and defeated. But first, pause to go to the bathroom.

12. Once you’ve finished with your husband’s hat, listen to him gloat about how he knew if he whined enough you would just do it for him.

13. Realize that a couple of your cardboard pieces are cut too big, or perhaps the others are too small. Since you can’t make the smaller ones bigger, you trim the larger ones trying not to make things worse. You likely make things worse and now your hat is about half the size you originally planned. Pause to go the bathroom again.

Cardboard mini top hat

You will then insert the fringes of the base into the body of the hat and glue them in place.

cereal box mini top hat

And insert the fringes of the of the top into the body and glue in place. Of course my top was a little big so I had to jam it in there.

Fabric over mini top hat

Then I cut fabric to size (I just eyeballed it). You could have traced the fabric earlier using your cut box pieces, but I like to do things the hard way.

14. Add the finishing touches and repeatedly tell yourself that no one is going to look that closely at it anyway. Curse the earlier cup of coffee because you have to pee again.

Trim around mini top hat

You’ll want to add trim around the top, the base and brim.

15. Attempt to remove the glue strands that are now on the couch, coffee table, cat, your hair and of course clinging to all parts of your hat.

16. Revel in your masterpiece and then realize you’ve been crafting almost all day. You will surely be at least an hour late to the party. Thumb through a magazine and surf the internet for a few minutes.

17. Scramble to get ready and then head to the party. About 10 minutes into the drive you’ll realize the hat is still sitting on your dining room table. Turn back and arrive at the party 45 minutes late.

18. Revel in the fact that you are only 45 minutes late. And you have an amazing top hat! And there you go. I hope you enjoyed my mini top hat tutorial. With the proper amount of hoarding, procrastination, spousal manipulation and caffeine you too can have a top hat just like this!

Red and black mini top hat

And then embellish and attach to a headband or alligator clips. I have no idea how most people attach the hat to the headband, I just glue gun the heck out of it 🙂

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35 thoughts on “18 steps to making a mini top hat (in the real world)

  1. April says:

    You make me smile! I have wanted to do this but I keep putting it off. I torture my dog with costumes for every holiday and then send them to my daughter–who absolutely loves them. I buy them because I procrastinate too much. :/

    • jennifer Windram says:

      I’m glad it made you smile, it was really fun to write and pretty much exactly how it happened.

      The hats are fun to make and instead of obsessing over every measurement and detail, I just went with it this time. It still turned out pretty good. I actually tried to buy one, but I couldn’t find any in the stores and it was too late to order one online. Maybe one day I’ll learn.

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Oh, thank you. They’re really fun to make, but I still need to figure out how to attach the headband to the hat without gobs of glue. Until then, I don’t think they’re quite ready for Etsy, but thanks for the compliment!

  2. fudgeandpoppy says:

    Loving it! Could you attach the hat to the headband by threading something through the base of the hat to tie it on to the headband and then secure in place with a dot of glue to be extra sturdy? Will we get to see hubby’s hat?

    • jennifer Windram says:

      That’s a good idea. I’ll have to try it next time. It just looks so icky underneath with all the gobs of glue.

      I can put a pic of his hat up. I was hoping to post a pic of us both in our costumes, but the photos turned out blurry. I’ll see what I can do 🙂

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Thank you! I wish I could say I’ve gotten more organized since writing this, but unfortunately all of my crafting projects tend to follow a very similar pattern.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Makayla Trueblood says:

      Cuz I don’t have a hot glue gun and how would u suggest to decorate a hat for the mad hatter but the girl version

  3. Makayla Trueblood says:

    I was thinking plain black hat with a red ribbon and a playing card stuck in the ribbon and wat about using paint instead of fabric

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