How to make a top hat using cardboard

Updated February 21, 2017

A top hat makes the perfect addition to any Mad Hatter, Abe Lincoln or undertaker costume. With a few modifications to this basic hat design, you'll be attending a tea party or presidential ball in style. You can make a cardboard top hat in just a couple of hours.

Measure the circumference of your head where the hat will sit. If you already have a hat that fits you well, measure the inside circumference of the hat instead. Add one inch to your measurement.

Cut a rectangle out of cardboard 16 inches wide and the length you measured in Step 1.

Roll the rectangle into a 16-inch tall tube. Check that you have rolled the tube the right way by placing it on top of your head and checking for fit. The ends should overlap by one inch.

Glue the seam of your tube. Cover the seam with masking tape.

Place the tube onto the second piece of cardboard and trace around the bottom of the tube. Remove the tube.

Use a compass to make a rim for your hat. Put the compass point in the centre of the circle you just drew. Put the drawing tip two inches outside the circle. Draw the larger circle with your compass.

Cut out both circles.

Glue the large ring to the bottom of the hat and the smaller circle to the other end. Secure with masking tape.

Paint your creation black.


Corrugated cardboard does not work well with this project; choose stiff, thin cardboard.


Use a low-temperature glue gun to reduce the risk of burns.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2 pieces of sturdy posterboard, 20x30 inches
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Masking tape
  • Drawing compass
  • Black paint
  • Paint brush
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About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.