How To Make A Flared Steampunk Top Hat
How to Make a Top Hat
Making your own top hat might seem difficult at first, but you can actually create a fairly simple yet durable version with just a few supplies and a couple of hours. Keep reading to find out how.
Preparing the Pieces
Choose your material.Traditional top hat material is no longer manufactured, but there are several modern day alternatives you can choose from. When looking for a material to use, gravitate toward fabrics that are fairly stiff and heavy. Light, floppy material will produce a floppy hat.
- Craft felt is one of the most popular options you can use. It is easy to find, affordable, easy to work with, and comes in a range of colors. Polar fleeceand tightly-woven wool are other possible options.
- Fosshape,buckram, and plastic canvas can be a little harder to find and a little more expensive, but they also tend to be a little stiffer and may produce a more pleasing result when all is said and done. If you cannot find these materials in the color you want, you can paint or dye them that color.
Cut the brim pieces.You will need to cut out two round circles of equal proportions. The longest diameter of these circles should be about 15 inches (38 cm).
- The brim pieces will be stacked and sewn together to create a double layer. This is done so that the brim has more structure and support. If you only use one piece of material for the brim, it may lack the structure it needs to be convincing.
Cut the "flue" pieces.The flue is the tall, chimney-like portion of the top hat that creates the signature look of the style. You will need to cut out two rectangular flue pieces of equal proportions. The length should be 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm) and the width should be 24 inches (61 cm).
- Like the brim, the “flue” will also consist of a double layer of fabric for the purpose of providing adequate support. Without this double layer, the top hat is likely to sink or fold over on itself once you place it on your head.
- If you would like to create a more playful version of the top hat, you can also cut out separate bands in alternating colors to form the flue. Stitch the bands together lengthwise so that they form a single flue piece with a height of 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm).
Cut the top piece.You only need to cut out one piece of material for the top of the hat. Cut a circle that is 8 inches (20.3 cm) in diameter.
- Unlike the brim and the flue, the top piece or “lid” does not need to have much structure, so you only need one piece of fabric for it. If you do not like the look of a single layer, however, you can double this part of the hat up, as well, by adding a second piece of equal dimensions.
Making the Brim
Stack the brim pieces.Place the two brim pieces on top of each other, right sides facing in and wrong sides facing out. Pin in place.
Make a circle in the center of the brim pieces.Use a fabric pencil or a piece of chalk to sketch out a smaller circle in the center of the larger brim circle. This circle should be about as big around as the size of your head.
- This circle will eventually become the opening for your head, which is why it needs to be the same approximate size. Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your head to verify that the circle in the center of your brim piece matches.
- Usually, the inner circle will be about 6 inches (15.24 cm) in diameter.
Stitch together the brim pieces.Use a sewing machine or a needle and thread to sew around the outside edge of the pieces, leaving a seam allowance of about 1/8 inch (3.176 mm).
- Do not sew along the edge of the inner circle yet.
- When done, you should have a solid, round disk with a circle marked in the center.
- Remove the pins as you sew or after you finish.
Remove the center of the brim.Use sewing scissors or shears to cut alone the outline you marked at the center of the brim. Cut from the inside of the circle, not along the outside.
- If you have difficulty keeping the pieces from shifting or moving around at the center, you could remedy the situation by pinning around the outside of the drawn circle before cutting that circle out. Doing so should limit the amount of movement.
Turn the brim inside-out.Pull the brim right-side out by turning it through the opening you created by cutting out the center of the brim.
- Iron flat, if possible, so that the material is easier to work with.
Sew the remaining portion of the brim.Stitch up the open center of the brim using a sewing machine or needle and thread. Leave a seam allowance of 1/4 inch (6.35 mm).
- As before, if you find that the fabric around the center opening continues to move around, pin around the opening to restrict this movement.
Making the Flue
Stack the flue pieces.Place one flue piece on top of the other, with the wrong sides facing out and the right sides facing in. Pin together.
- You need to pin around all four parts of the rectangle. Place the pins as close to the edge as possible to prevent the edges from coming loose as you sew.
Sew the pieces together.Sew around all four sides of the two stacked pieces to create a double-layer piece to work with.
- You should have a seam allowance of about 1/8 inch (3.176 mm).
Form the flue.Lightly fold the flue in half width wise and pin the edges together. Sew along the joined edge using a sewing machine or needle.
- Do not iron or crease the fold. Ultimately, you will want this part of the hat to have a rounded shape, not a flat shape.
- The seam allowance will vary depending on how large your head is. The portion of the fabric leading up to the seam should be about half of the diameter of your brim opening, and when unfolded, this portion of the flue should be about the same size as that brim opening.
Unfold.Release the fold of the flue and try to shape it with your fingers so that the flue shape, as a whole, forms a rounded shape.
- If there is a crease along the side you folded previously and you cannot get it out simply with your fingers, you could try placing the flue over a round vase, lamp, or similar object to stretch it in that circular shape. Remove the crease by applying steam with your iron.
Putting the Hat Together
Place the flue on the top or "lid" piece.Place the lid piece wrong-side up on your working surface and set the flue wrong-side out on top. Pin in place.
- Pin the pieces together as close to the edge as possible to prevent them from wiggling apart.
Sew together.Sew the flue to the lid using a sewing machine or needle. Leave a seam allowance of 1/8 inch (3.175 mm).
- Turn the flue and top right-side out once the two pieces have been attached.
Line the flue up with the brim.Pull the bottom edge of the flue slightly through the hole you cut in the brim, leaving 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3.175 to 6.35 mm) of fabric beneath the brim. Pin in place.
- Pin the overhanging portion of the flue fabric to the underside of the brim, placing the pins as close to the edge as possible.
Sew together.Sew the overhanging portion of flue fabric to the underside of the brim using a sewing machine or needle.
- The seam allowance should only be about 1/8 inch (3.175 mm).
Trim away any excess material.Any excess fabric on the inside of the brim or flue should be trimmed away with sewing scissors or shears.
- While this is not strictly essential since the excess fabric should be hidden, it might make the hat more comfortable to wear.
Decorate your top hat as desired.You can leave the top hat plain and wear it as is, or you can add decorative elements to it to personalize it or make it usable for a costume.
- If you are using the hat for cosplay or costume purposes, study pictures of the character you are trying to dress as and decorate the hat accordingly.
- If you want the top hat to look more “classic,” you could try embellishing it by attaching a black satin ribbon around the base of the flue.
- To make the top hat more versatile, add embellishments that are removable.
Wear your new top hat proudly.Your top hat should now be complete and ready to wear.
QuestionIn the "flue" section, it says to sew around all 4 edges. How do I turn it out if all 4 edges are sewn shut with the right sides together?Community AnswerLeave a small area open and then turn it inside out. Then, sew the area closed. This works for pillows as well.Thanks!
- If using a sewing machine, a simple straight stitch should do. If sewing by hand, use a backstitch.
- If using a thick material, you may want to change the needle in your sewing machine to a heavy-duty kind packaged as a “leather” or “denim” needle.
Things You'll Need
1 1/3 yd (1.19 m) craft felt, fosshape, polar fleece, buckram, or plastic canvas, 24 inches wide (60.96 cm)
1 spool of thread
Sewing (straight) pins
Sewing machine or needle
Fabric pencil or chalk
Sources and Citations
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Video: How to make a Top Hat (Tutorial)
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