How to Make a Paper Top Hat for a Halloween Costume

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you are a magician in need of a place to store your rabbit or looking to dress up as President Abraham Lincoln this Halloween, you need a top hat. You could go to a costume store to rent or purchase a cloth top hat, but that can cost you a considerable amount of money for just one night's use. Save yourself some money and tap into your crafty side by fashioning your own top hat from sturdy poster board in less than an hour.

Measure the circumference of your head with a tape measure.

Measure and mark a rectangle on the poster board that is 2 inches wider than your head's circumference and 2 inches taller than the desired height of the hat.

Divide the circumference of your head by pi (3.14). This gives you the diameter of your hat. Draw a circle on a separate piece of poster board with this diameter. Draw another circle around the first with a diameter 4 inches larger than the first.

Cut out the rectangle and larger circle with scissors. Cut the smaller circle from the centre of the larger circle using a craft knife.

Bring the longer ends of the rectangle together so that they overlap an inch. Use your hot glue gun to attach the overlapping ends. Hold them together for a minute or two to allow the glue to set. This tube will make up the sides of the hat.

Make inch-long snips along the top and bottom edges of the tube every inch. Fold the resulting flaps out along the bottom and in along the top.

Slide the doughnut-shaped piece of poster board down over the poster board tube. Use hot glue to attach it to the flaps that you folded out. This creates the brim for your top hat.

Attach the smaller circle you cut earlier from the centre of the larger circle to the flaps you folded in, using the hot glue gun. This creates the top of the hat.


To make a perfect circle on your poster board, you can use a compass or a pencil with a string attached. Cut the string to half the diameter --plus a half inch or so -- and attach it to the pencil. Hold the free end of the string in the centre of the paper, and then draw a circle around it with your pencil.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Poster board
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Calculator
  • Compass
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Hot glue gun
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About the Author

Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Ainsley Patterson has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles appear on various websites. She especially enjoys utilizing her more than 10 years of craft and sewing experience to write tutorials. Patterson is working on her bachelor's degree in liberal arts at the University of Michigan.