Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Finds: 6 Hat Making Tutorials

Hats are an essential component of most steampunk outfits.  And what's more satisfying than making them yourself?  There are a ton of guides to making your own online, and I've collected my favorites here.

Recovering a cheap felt top hat with fabric 

This is a really great tutorial that blew my mind because I had never considered using a cheap felt hat as a base for making a fabric covered hat.  The process for covering the hat requires a lot of the same skills as making a fabric hat from scratch.  It involves a good amount of hand-sewing, machine sewing, and gluing, but it's a lot quicker than making your own frame.

Tom Banwell's Leather Top Hat Tutorial

This tutorial shows you how to make the hat pictured here, and includes a lovely pattern.  This hat uses some real leather working skills like cutting, sewing, riveting, shaping, and dyeing leather.  The tutorial is not super detailed, so I'd recommend some prior experience working with leather.

Tom Banwell's Plague Doctor Hat Tutorial - This tutorial uses a very different leather hat making
technique, using thinner garment weight leather, some cardboard, and wire to make a soft leather hat.  It would totally be possible to adapt these techniques to differently shaped hats.  He uses glue and stitching to hold it all together.

Here's a good Instructable on making a plain leather top hat.  The instructions are clear, with step by step photos.  This isn't the only way to make a leather top hat, but it's a fairly straightforward one.   The parts are all hand-stitched together.

This Burdastyle tutorial shows how to make a traditional buckram based top hat. Part 2.

The directions aren't particularly detailed when it comes to making the frame, but it does give the general idea.  As I've mentioned before, and as this link mentions, Lynn McMaster's patterns are highly recommended and have great instructions.

This Mini Tricorn or Pirate Hat Tutorial has a fantastic free downloadable pattern.  It's shown made from cardstock and fleece, but I'd use some different materials to get the same shape, like buckram and fabric, or maybe even wool felt.

Does anyone have other hat making tutorials I haven't mentioned?  Have you made your own hat?  How did it turn out?  


  1. OH MY. Thank you! I need this.

  2. I actually had some well made, small straw hats that I recovered with fabric using a leather needle to hand sew. I used a poly velvet with a fair bit of stretch, so that I could get it taught and even, since it was a fully round crown. I don't really know the name of the shape other than to say a sun hat but smaller, like for large dolls. My sister called it a UFO. They came out quite nice when finished, and covered with feathers and trims.

    1. That's actually a good idea, since straw hats are easy to find in thrift stores, etc.

  3. Great tutorials! I have a tutorial on making a top hat from a foam exercise mat, certainly not historically accurate, but a bit of fun:)