How to Make a Decorative Top Hat

Written by freddie silver
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How to Make a Decorative Top Hat
Top hats are no longer a required part of a formal outfit. (FPG/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Top hats used to be a required part of men's formal attire. Top hats and tails are still sometimes found at formal weddings in Great Britain, especially in the royal family. Fred Astaire, in the 1930s, was famous for using his top hat in his dance routines. In modern times, the top hat is no longer routinely worn unless as part of a magician's outfit or a fancy dress costume party. Top hats can be rented at formal men's wear stores. For children's use, or one-time only occasions, it is much less expensive to make a top hat at home.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Lightweight cardboard
  • Black paint, black construction paper or black felt
  • White glue
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Wide packing tape or duct tape
  • 1- to 1 1/2-inch-wide satin ribbon
  • Box cutter

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the circumference of the head, about 1 inch above the eyebrows. Divide this measurement by pi (3.14) to obtain the diameter of the circle. Record this measurement.

  2. 2

    Draw a line in the centre of the cardboard. The length of this line should be the measurement of the diameter calculated in Step 1. Mark the centre point of this line.

  3. 3

    Insert a pencil into the compass and tighten the screw in the compass to hold it in place. Place the pointed end of the compass on the centre point of the line and set the compass the distance needed to draw a circle around the line. Use the tape measure to check that the circumference of the circle drawn matches the measurement for the circumference of the head.

  4. 4

    Measure 2 or 2 1/2 inches out from the edge of the circle, depending upon the size of brim desired, and draw a second, larger circle with the compass around the first circle. This will form the brim of the hat.

  5. 5

    Insert the pointed end of the box cutters into the line drawn for the outer circle and cut all the way around. Repeat this cutting process around the inside of the smaller circle, producing a doughnut shape. Set aside the small circle of cardboard that is left over from the inner circle.

  6. 6

    Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard. The length will be the measurement of the circumference of the head, and the width will form the height of the top hat. This height should be about 8 inches.

  7. 7

    Gently roll the rectangle of cardboard to form a curve that will fit around the circumference of the inner circle of the brim. Hold it firmly in place and secure it with small pieces of tape. Add two long strips of tape all around the circumference of the brim, both on the top side and under side of the hat to make it more secure. Take the small circle of cardboard set aside in Step 5 and tape it into place forming the crown of the hat.

  8. 8

    Paint the hat black or cut two brim pieces, a rectangular piece and a crown piece from the black construction paper or black felt and glue them to cover the cardboard hat. Cut a length of ribbon the measurement of the circumference of the inner circle of the brim, plus 1 inch. Place it around the hat, where the brim meets the side of the hat. Keep the ribbon flat against the side of the hat. Overlap the excess ribbon at the ends and glue it in place. Place the ribbon overlap at the back of the hat.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a contrasting colour for the decorative ribbon, possibly red, to add a bit of flair.
  • Spray paint the hat with a metallic paint with sparkles in it.
  • Colourful stickers can be added to the sides or brim of the hat.
  • Keep scissors out of reach of small children.

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