How to make a felt stovepipe hat

Written by kathy bellamy
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How to make a felt stovepipe hat
Stovepipe hats are also a popular magician's prop. (Achim Prill/iStock/Getty Images)

Stovepipe hats conjure up images of famous Victorians, such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or US president Abraham Lincoln. Stovepipe hats also say elegance -- think Fred Astaire and "Uncle Moneybags" from the Monopoly game board. Stovepipe hats say whimsy -- think Willy Wonka and the Dr Seuss "Cat in the Hat." They make you look taller, too. A posh silk top hat could cost you hundreds of pounds, but with some felt, glue and cardboard you can make your own.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1.4 metres (1 1/2 yards) felt
  • White glue
  • Medium paintbrush
  • 2 sheets of poster board or cardboard
  • Thick sewing needle
  • Black thread
  • Tape
  • 25 cm (10 inch) round foam wreath ring
  • 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) thick wide black ribbon

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    Make a mould

  1. 1

    Decide how tall you want your hat to be. Historically stovepipe hats were around 20 cm (8 inches) tall, but you can go as high as 30 cm (12 inches) if you want an exaggerated look.

  2. 2

    Make a poster board or cardboard tube wide enough to fit around your head and as high as you want your hat to be. Tape it together to make a mould for your hat's crown.

  3. 3

    Draw a circle about 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) wider than the top of your crown on the poster board or cardboard. Cut out the circle. Cut 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) notches about 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart into the large circle, bend these tabs down, and tape tabs to the outside top of the crown.

  4. 4

    Trace the bottom of the crown onto the poster board. Draw a circle inside this one about 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) smaller and an outside circle about 5 cm (2 inches) wider.

  5. 5

    Cut out the outer circle and the inner circle to make a doughnut shape. Cut 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) notches on the inside rim of the doughnut, fold up these tabs, and glue into place around the brim of the hat. Try the cardboard hat on to check the fit. This is the time to make adjustments.

    Make the hat

  1. 1

    Dismantle your cardboard hat and use the pieces as a pattern to cut your felt, adding 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) inch to the top, bottom and sides of the crown. Cut two of each piece.

  2. 2

    Put your cardboard hat back together. Roll a thick bath towel into a cylinder and insert it into the cardboard hat to give it stability.

  3. 3

    Hand-sew each felt crown into a tube matching the cardboard tube, then sew the tops onto the crowns. Turn them seam side in.

  4. 4

    Stretch the first felt crown over the mould. It should have the distinctive stovepipe shape.

  5. 5

    Cover the felt with white glue using the paintbrush. Slip the second felt crown over the first and let the felt layers dry overnight.

  6. 6

    Glue the two felt doughnuts together to make the hat brim.

  7. 7

    Cut the wreath ring in half and trim about 2.5 cm (1 inch) from each piece. Lay each half on the wreath on the brim just inside the doughnut shape. Roll the sides of the brim over the rings into a gentle curve and pin into place. Let dry overnight.

  8. 8

    Remove and discard the cardboard tube when the glued felt crown is dry.

  9. 9

    Measure a length of ribbon by wrapping it around your head. Cut a second length of ribbon the same size, plus around 10 cm (4 inches). Pin the shorter ribbon into the bottom inside edge of the crown of the hat as an inner hat band.

  10. 10

    Pin crown to brim with the edge of the crown coming over the edge of the brim and the inner ribbon over the brim edge. Sew the brim and hat band to the crown with a simple line of stitches. These stitches don't have to look perfect; they will be covered by the outer decorative ribbon.

  11. 11

    Tie the longer ribbon around the outer base of the crown in a neat, flat bow. Tack the bow down with small stitches at the corners of the bow.

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