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Customize that top hat to coordinate with your costume!
Having made a coachman-style cape for my vampire character, Dr. Miracle, I wanted to cover his top hat in the same material.

This was my first time covering a hat and, while it'll be okay for the stage, it's not perfect enough, in my opinion, for up-close inspection :) This is largely because of the seam around the top of the hat, which I sewed badly, couldn't press properly and generally mucked up.

Posted by dangerous mezzo from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada • Published See dangerous mezzo's 8 projects »
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  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 1
    Step 1

    Get your hat. Here's the white buckram top hat I picked up in Toronto for about $16. It's nice and tall.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 2
    Step 2

    There are four pieces of fabric you'll need to cover the hat. The first is for the very top. Put your fabric, wrong side up, on top of the hat, and trace right around the edge with your pencil or pen, leaving a clear line. Cut this out, adding a seam allowance.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 3
    Step 3

    Now you need to cut out the piece of fabric that will cover the sides of the top hat. Wrap your fabric around, wrong side out, and trim so that you have a seam allowance at the top and pin up a seam at the back so it fits snugly. I used a piece with the selvedge along the bottom, so that at least one edge would be stable.

    Sew up the back seam. You'll have a tube.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 4
    Step 4

    You'll need two pieces for the brim. Put a piece of fabric on the top of the top hat again (wrong side up), and trace the top oval. Cut it out.

    Slide the piece of fabric down onto the brim, wrong side up. Use your pencil to mark the edge of the brim on the fabric. Trim around this, leaving a seam allowance.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 5
    Step 5

    Take the top brim off the hat. Put it on top of another piece of fabric, right sides together, matching the grain. Cut out a second oval.

    At the sewing machine, sew the two pieces of the brim covering together at the pencil line. Trim and notch the curved edges. Turn right side out. Mark the front of the brim with a pin.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 6
    Step 6

    Cut a few slots in the underside of the brim, where the head will go, and wrestle the brim onto the hat, keeping the front of the brim covering at the front of the hat. (This took some doing :))

    Once the brim covering is on, slit the inside of the covering in as many places as you need to to make the brim covering fit into the hat. You'll hot glue these pieces into place when you're done. If the inside of the hat will be seen, you'll also want to make a lining. I didn't bother.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 7
    Step 7

    Now sew the tube from step 3 onto the hat top from step 2. I found out that this step is crucial to the appearance of your hat, because it's the only seam you can't easily cover up with something.

    If I were doing it again, I'd likely do it by hand.

    If you're machine sewing, make sure that the pencil line you're following (the one on the top piece) is very clear.

    You'll need to clip and press this seam carefully. I didn't have a tailor's ham or a pressing mitt, so I used the backside of a stuffed dog :) Warning! When you're pressing a curved seam against the backside of a fluffy stuffed dog, don't steam yourself with the iron by mistake!

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 8
    Step 8

    Turn the top covering right side out. Put on hat form, putting the back seam at the back.

    See how lumpy my top seam is? I know you can do a better job :)

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 9
    Step 9

    Sew the brim top to the lower edge of the top covering by hand.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 10
    Step 10

    Put your trim along the bottom of the hat to cover the join between the brim and the top.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 11
    Step 11

    I snugged up the back seam, stitching by hand, because I hadn't made it precise enough in the first place. Keep the fabric very taut makes the hat look much better.

    I also added another row of more flexible gimp braid at the bottom of the hat band to further cover up my hand sewing.

    At this point you could hot glue the lower brim to the inside of the hat.

  • How to make a top hat. Cover A Top Hat - Step 12
    Step 12

    And here's the hat! If you wanted to, you could sew seam binding around the edge of the brim, either of the same material or a contrasting material.

    You can also go to town trimming it, although this one will stay pretty plain.

    Thanks for reading!

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Comments

dangerous mezzo
dangerous mezzo · Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, CA · 8 projects
Dear Lucretia -- thank you SO much for your incredibly useful tips! I'm sure my next hat will be lovely, thanks to your generosity and knowledge!
Reply
Sheila Squirrel
Sheila Squirrel
Ooo..forgot to say I like to use fabrics with a small stretch as they fit more snuggly. I use a tee shirt fabric under net.
Reply
Sheila Squirrel
Sheila Squirrel
Hi, Put the top circle onto the top of the hat and make it as flat as possible. Take the main body piece and with right sides together make the fabric stick up from the top of the hat. Sew around the top circle edge leaving a gap at one end for folding fabric in. Then flip the fabric downwards and the seam is inside along the top edge. The back seam is easier if you lay one side edge flat and fold the other side in to be level with the centre back. Then you can use blend thread (invisible thread) and use a small running stitch to make the back seam. The brim is best made it 2 pieces. If you have problems stitching it because of the shape you can use fabric glue to keep it in place but check on a spare bit to see how it dries. I have sometimes glued the top and bottom brim in place then added seam tape/satin around the brim. If you glue a wide tape or ribbon on the inside of the brim it will be more confortable to wear and stays in place better. I use a thin piece of sponge sometimes for more comfort, especially with my heavier hats. Hope this helps Happy
Reply
dangerous mezzo
dangerous mezzo · Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, CA · 8 projects
Thanks, RainbowIce, I'm happy if it helps at all!
Reply
RainbowIce
RainbowIce · Chicago, Illinois, US · 38 projects
I love it! ヾ(^∇^) this is very helpful ~
Reply