September 28, 2008

A top hat for a little boy

Filed under: millinery techniques and cheats,Sewing projects,Top hat for a little boy — Cristina de Prada @ 10:31 pm

Little boy with the top hat Having had a couple of  friends telling me recently that they  don’t dare to wear hats, hearing my little nephew of five telling me that he really really wanted a top hat, a real one, was a boost for my morale.

I made him a cardboard top hat, but somehow that was not good enough and he persistently asked for a real one. What can I say. I like the boy.

Although the idea is to eventually  make him a felt hat, I thought I’d wait a little bit for that and try a go at making a pattern hat.

The wool coat fabric I used worked nicely, and the hat turned out great.

I made it up as I went along, so the following explanation is not necessarily  the best way to do it!

Here follow some details of the process:

1. I made a 6 section crown, and to make the pattern I divided the head measurement by six, and added two extra centimeters to cover for the thickness of the fabric (with hindsight I should have added one extra centimeter, so 3 in total).

2. I wanted the hat to curve inward on the sides, and for that I adjusted the pattern. Starting with a rectangle 14 cm high by 9 cm wide, I’ved curved it inward 0.5 cm on each side, which results in a very visible curve on the finished hat.

Tracing the pattern - brim has already been sewn

3. The brim pattern is flat (a doughnut), but the polyester sew-on interfacing (non-woven) that I have used on the brim (not the crown) can be shaped while hot from the iron (although it doesn’t stretch), which helped give it the cute roll on the sides despite having a nylon wire on the outer edge of the rim.

Sew on rigid interfacing 

3. After sewing the 6 side crown sections I used corset boning (rigilene, sold by the meter) cut to size and zigzagged onto the allowance, only on one side of each vertical seam. It’s better to cut it a little bit short, because otherwise it might bulk or poke up on the top. Just that bit of boning made the crown stand up like a real top hat.

4. I zigzagged a nylon wire to the top crown with a decent overlap to avoid it getting lose, and then sewed the sides to the top. I used a beading foot on my sewing machine to sew the wire, and it worked really nice.

Using beading feet to sew wire

5. I made a lining using the same pattern but cutting it slightly smaller. I left the back seam open. Next time I will iron some interfacing to the lining fabric to give it some more structure.

Lining ready to be sewn

6. I sewed the grosgrain headsize ribbon to the brim before attaching it to the crown. I stitched an elastic on the back of the ribbon so the hat wouldn’t be too big. I might do it differently next time, but this time I attached the crown and the brim as if the crown was made of buckram, finishing the crown bottom and stab stitching the two parts together through the tabs of the brim.

 Pieces before assembly Crown with lining sewn on... not sure it's the best idea!

Here are some two more pictures:

Mimi wearing the almost finished hat The little boy and his hat


  1. The boy is AMAZING in that hat. How will he ever be able to get from place to place now? Everyone will want to take his picture, talk to him, and get his autography. He obviously is someone with style! And to think in David Copperfield’s day, boys dressed like this all the time. Oh how did we let that style slip away?

    And by the by…the latest on wedding style is hats, and top hats for brides. I say “bring it on!”

    Another great job there girl!

    Comment by jill — September 30, 2008 @ 1:39 am

  2. That is one super cool hat! I have two little boys here who would love hats like that. When I’ve got a minute I will have a go myself. Fab!

    Comment by Cath — September 30, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

  3. He looks so great! You always amaze me 🙂

    Comment by joana — September 30, 2008 @ 10:45 pm

  4. Fabulous!! You are SO creative and clever with figuring out how to get the effects you want. That little Gent looks wonderful in the hat and I’m sure you’ve made him a lifelong lover of hats. Kudos! Kate Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — October 1, 2008 @ 9:05 pm

  5. cristina! cómo estás? bueno, ya veo que hiperproductiva!
    felicidades por el sombrero, tu sobrino está graciosísimo con él!

    (ah, y me encanta la puerta azul ,)

    Comment by emedemarta — October 15, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

  6. Wonderful site. I am glad I discovered it via Chapeau du Jour, a dear friend. A suggestion, I found taffeta to have enough stiffness to stand up to the job of a lining in a tall crowned hat.

    Comment by Pamela P — November 10, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

  7. Fantastic job! Thanks for sharing your story..

    Comment by mchats — August 8, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  8. That hat is amazing!! You are so talented!!
    Would you be able to provide a pattern or do you sell? Halloween is coming up and I’m aspiring to be a lion tamer hehe so a top hat like that would be the perfect finishing touch!! even just the pattern for the paper version would be awesome?

    Comment by Emma — October 20, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  9. Hello Emma,

    I didn’t scan the pattern because it’s very simple to make oneself. If you read the explanation you will see how I made it and you can make it too. It’s easy!


    Comment by cristinadeprada — October 20, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  10. Oh, I just loooove your tutorials! I’ve started my site as a wordpressblog a year ago, and did it by myself, but now my boyfriend is working with me (he’s doing a lot of the coding ;P). Well, my site is about tutorials as well, although not only hats, but anything ‘gothic’ or darkly inspired. I was searching for a top hat tutorial and found yours. It’s fantastic! I will link to you from my website, and if you find our site representable you are very welcome to do the same. But again – it’s very new, and more tutorials are coming up. 🙂 But I must say, you have an AWESOME site, and awesome things you make! Wow! 🙂

    Comment by Parnuuna — January 9, 2010 @ 12:32 am

  11. Brilliant!!! And he suits it so well!!! Thank you so much for putting the details on, as I have been searching (pardon the pun) but madly for a pattern for a top hat as I am doing a Mad Hatter costume, once again, thank you!!!

    Comment by Erin — March 16, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  12. Thank you Parnuuna and thank you Erin for your nice commments about the tutorial and the blog in general!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — March 18, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  13. A wonderful tutorial, and what an excellent result of your project! I am searching for a supplier of the type of interfacing you used to shape the brim. Does the one you used have a particular name?

    Comment by Korine — July 28, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  14. Thank you for your kind comments! I wish I had the name for the interfacing but I do not! If I manage to find out I will post it!


    Comment by cristinadeprada — July 28, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  15. This hat is rad! Is there any way you could post the pattern? Something I could blow up and use? I’m not super skilled and would love to make my own! Maybe the cardboard hat pattern even?

    Comment by lolo — October 3, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  16. I don’t know any more where I have the pattern but I’ve explained in detail the measurements. It’s really easy, dare to try it!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — October 3, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

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