Make Your Own Top Hat

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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial
Simple Cotton Top Hat Tutorial

How to sew a top hat - free tutorial

My little boy needed a sun hat now the weather is warming up, but the ones in the shop all looked so boring. So I thought what could look cuter than a baby in a top hat?!

What you’ll need:

I used about 30cm x 135cm patterned cotton

Interfacing (sew on or iron on is fine) I used a 43cm x 12cm strip and 2 x 25cm square pieces

How I made it:

First off I needed to know what size head to make the hat for, so I made a rough estimate and cut a hole out of some paper. I tried this on and snipped a bit. Then I had to fold the paper under to add a bit where I had got a bit scissor happy! You can make a perfect circle, but I thought it may get a better fit by making it to his exact head shape, which seems to have worked as it's never moved around on his head and he has worn it for a week without pulling it off!

I then drew around the inside of my head guide paper onto another piece of paper. I added 2 inches all around for the hat brim, and a 1/4inch (or whatever you prefer to use) as seam allowance. You will need 2 of these cut in cloth, and 2 cut in interfacing. If you make it without the interfacing it will just be floppy and wont hold it's shape.

I lay some string around the inner circle to measure the circumference to determine the length of the hat body I would need. Then I added ½ inch to allow for a seam allowance at each end – this made things a little tight to fit when I was making fine adjustments later as I needed to enlarge the head hole a little more, so if I was doing this for a wiggly child again I would do this measurement on the fabric brim after doing the fitting, as if you need to make the opening bigger, you will need more fabric. If your child (or adult) sat still and was as good as gold then you should be ok! I made my top hat 12cm tall then added ¼ seam. This will need folding over, so double this last measurement So....that was a rectangle of 43cm (plus 2 seam allowances) x 24cm (plus 2 seam allowances). Cut 1 in cloth and 1 in interfacing (or cut 2 in interfacing if you want it to be more rigid and formal).

For the top of the hat, trace the head measurement or use the centre of the brim pattern and add a ¼ inch seam allowance all the way around the outside. (If you want to make this hat even stiffer or warmer, you could always cut 2 in cloth and 1 in interfacing and just over cast stitch them together to treat them as 1 cloth). I just wanted it as a sun hat so I used a single piece of cotton to allow for heat to escape easily.

Top Hat tutorial draft pattern

First, make your brim. You need interfacing on the outer 2 layers and the 2 cotton layers in the centre with the right sides facing together in the middle. Sew your ¼ inch seam all round the outer edge. For curved edges, I find it easier to use a ¼ inch sewing machine foot to line the fabric up with to help get an even line. You could also pop a piece of coloured sticky tape as a marker on your machine to line the edge up with. If you were to just turn it right side out as it is, the seam will bunch inside and look messy, so when I turn a big curve, especially one that is thick or stiffened, I cut little nicks all the way around my seam being careful not to cut the stitching before turning right side out. I then top stitched around the edge to make it look even flatter.

Top Hat tutorial how to make the brim

Before finishing the inner circle, I double checked it on his head to make sure it sat at the level I wanted, and trimmed any misbehaving layers to give a neat inner edge. Using an overcast foot with an over-edge stitch on my sewing machine I stitched all round the inner edge.

Top hat tutorial overcast stitching the brim

Next I made up the hat body. I took the large panel of fabric, and placing it the right way around, folded it in half across the long side and sandwiched the interfacing in the centre. I then used the same overcast stitch to work my way around the raw edges.

Top hat tutorial overcast stitch

I took my cotton top for the hat, and with right sides together, slowly stitched it to the hat body. I did not pin this first as I find it easier to gradually feed the circle through, matching the edges as I go. Every few stitches I left the needle down to hold the fabric and keep my stitch place, and lifted the presser foot up to pivot the fabric slightly so I could keep stitching the perfect circle without bunching my cotton.

Top hat tutorial attaching top section

Top hat tutorial top half

I checked the alignment of the hat body with the brim and pinned the seam allowance at the base to get a perfect fit when sewing up the side seam. This was then stitched inside out.

Finally, I pinned, then hand stitched the brim to the body of the hat by pinching the edges together slightly and sewing an overcast stitch. I did this by hand to get a neater and more concealed finish.

Top hat tutorial attaching hat to brim

All that’s left now is to wear it to all your favourite hang outs!

Top hat tutorial boy sewing bee fabrics

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to

Happy Sewing!

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