Top hats add flair to any occasion, are elegant and are a popular choice for groomsmen. Top hats are expensive to buy and rent, so for a one-off occasion like a wedding it is worth making one yourself. Traditionally top hats have a satin ribbon or bit of black silk tied around the crown with a sloping narrow brim.
Items you will need
- Buckram cloth
- Black felt or heavy fabric
- Needle and black thread
- Thin wire - 41 inches
- Single-fold black bias tape - 41 inches
- Two wire joiners
- Fabric pencil
- Tape measure
- 1- to 1 1/2-inch-wide satin or silk ribbon
Measure the circumference of the head, about 1 inch above the eyebrows, to determine the size of the inside brim. Divide this measurement by pi (3.14) and obtain the diameter. Record this measurement.
Draw a mark in the center of the buckram cloth. Insert a fabric pencil into the compass and extend the compass to the width of the diameter measurement. Draw a circle. Use the tape measure to check that the circumference of the circle drawn matches the measurement for the circumference of the head.
Widen the compass 2 inches out from the edge of the circle, and draw a second, larger circle around the first circle. This will form the outside brim of the hat. Place your compass in the center of the buckram cloth and draw an inner circle 1 inch inside the inside brim circle. Cut out this inner circle and the outermost circle.
Draw lines 1 inch apart from the inner circle to the middle circle. Flare out the lines slightly, as you are working outward; try to estimate this evenly. Cut along the lines from the inside to the middle circle. It should now look as if the inside brim has cloth teeth.
Cut a piece of thin wire to the same size of the outer edge and secure in a circle shape with a wire joiner. Measure two pieces of black felt or fabric to the shape of the brim circle only; cut out and allow ¼ inch inside overlap. Place the wire circle on the outside rim and stitch the top piece of fabric, the wire and the base piece of fabric onto the outer rim of the hat. Stitch the top and bottom fabric to the inside center circle. The white teeth should still be showing.
Measure the distance from the middle of the forehead to the end of the chin and add 20 percent to this length. Cut a rectangular piece of buckram cloth to this height, with the width equaling the circumference of the head plus ½ inch. Do the same with a piece of black fabric. Stitch the buckram cloth along this ½-inch line and form a cylinder. Stitch the black fabric onto the cylinder using the overhang to sew a neat seam down the column of the crown piece.
Measure a circle of buckram cloth the same diameter as Step 2 and cut out. Measure a piece of black felt or fabric to the same length and add ½ inch to the diameter and cut out. Lay the black piece over the buckram cloth circle. Cut a piece of wire to fit the diameter, which should be approximately 19 inches, and secure in the exact spot with a wire joiner. Sew the buckram cloth, black fabric and wire together with a cross over stitch and tuck black fabric to the underside of the stitching. This is the crown piece.
Place the crown piece on top of the crown cylinder and stitch firmly into place, making sure that loose threads are inside the cylinder and that outside the stitching is smooth. Cut a piece of single fold bias tape to match the circumference of the crown tip, and position over the join. This needs to be stitched into place as neatly as possible, with loose ends inside the cylinder of the crown.
Assemble your top hat by pushing the crown portion inside the brim so that the white teeth are visible from the underside. Turn the hat upside down and use the white teeth as anchors and stitch the brim to the cylinder. Cut a piece of single-fold bias tape to match the outside brim, and position over the wire join. As you place the tape for stitching, shape the edges of the brim into an elegant curve. Sew into desired shape.
Cut a piece of satin ribbon, in your color of choice and secure around the rim of the top hat. Tuck under an edge line at the back end of the hat, and fold over and stitch to secure to the hat.