How to Make Pillbox Hats

Written by erica ruedas
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For a cute vintage look, or something extra to your outfit, a pillbox hat is an inspired choice. Finding an authentic vintage pillbox hat in good condition can be difficult and expensive, but making your own is a simple afternoon's activity. You may add embellishments from beads, netting, feathers, or patches to your hat to personalise it. With an easy pattern you make yourself and minimal machine sewing, you can create a pillbox hat in the morning wear it that evening.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Clean, empty jar
  • 2 pieces of felt, 9"x12"
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing
  • Thread
  • Beading elastic or hair combs
  • Embellishments

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn the jar upside down on the felt and use a pen to trace around the mouth of the jar, making two circles on the felt and one on the interfacing. This will be the top of your hat. Depending on the jar size, the felt circle should only be about 3 1/2 inches across. Cut out both felt circles and choose a wrong side and a right side. Cut out the interfacing, lay it on the felt, and fuse the interfacing to the felt. Take the second felt circle, place the wrong side on top of the interfacing, and sew all three circles together, as close to the edge as possible.

  2. 2

    Using a ruler, draw two long rectangles of the same size on the remaining felt, and draw one same-sized rectangle on the interfacing. These will form the sides of your hat. The length of the rectangle doesn't matter,as you'll cut off the excess later, but the height should be about two inches. Cut all three rectangles out, choose a right side and a wrong side, then fuse the interfacing to a felt rectangle. Take the second felt rectangle and sew it to the interfaced rectangle, wrong side facing the interfacing.

  3. 3

    Face all the felt, so the wrong sides are facing out, and pin the edge of the rectangle to the edge of the circle. Tuck any of the excess rectangle out of the way for now. If you are comfortable with a sewing machine, sew the edge-long edge of the rectangle to the felt circle, stopping when you reach the beginning of the rectangle. If you prefer hand sewing, use small basting stitches to tack the two ends together.

  4. 4

    With the wrong sides still facing out, cut off the excess part of the rectangle, leaving a 1/4 inch tail. Use fabric glue or small basting stitches to close the circle by sewing the loose end of the rectangle itself. You may use a sewing machine.

  5. 5

    Sew on the elastic or hair comb. Measure enough elastic to go around the back of your head, and shorten it by a couple of inches. Remember, you'll want it to fit snugly. Tack the ends onto the wrong side of the felt, using small stitches. Try to sew through only one layer of felt. If you use a hair comb, cut a strip of excess felt, long enough to cover the top of the comb. Lay the comb on the wrong side of the hat, with the top of the comb against the felt and the teeth sticking out, then lay the felt over it. Attach it to the hat using fabric glue, or use small stitches that go through just the top layer of felt.

  6. 6

    Flip the hat inside out, with the wrong side face in and the right side facing out. Use your embellishments to decorate your hat. Add feathers, buttons, lace, ribbon, a veil, or any other decoration you like. Or, just leave it plain.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with the size and shape of your hat. Try using an oval instead of a circle, and cut a shorter rectangle so the hat sits closer to your head.
  • For a top hat, cut a taller rectangle, around four inches, and a doughnut-shaped circle with a hole the same size as your first felt circle. Prepare the doughnut-shaped circle the same as the other pieces, and sew it on, wrong sides together, to the rectangle that forms the side of the hat.
  • Use different fabrics to make your hat, but make sure to use heavier interfacing if you use a lightweight fabric. Your hat needs to be able to stand up on its own.

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