Professional Mini Top Hat Tutorial - Flat Base

A completed Mini Top Hat

How to make a professional fabric-covered Mini Top Hat. 

A Traditional Mini Top Hat pattern, using a stiff buckram bonded to a dress fabric outer layer. 

Our Mini Top Hats patterns have been made thousands of times, therefore, produce an incredible finished Mini Top Hat.

Because of the outstanding professional finish this pattern creates, especially when using our exclusive hat-making jig, these Mini Top Hats are perfect for weddings, theatre, cosplay,  race meets and evening wear. 

They produce a high-quality hat suitable for retail selling. 

If you want to create beautiful professional-looking mini top hats quickly every time. Then our custom hat maker jig is available to order and is highly recommended if you are making to resell.

You will be able to create highly sought-after and valuable hats quickly, easily and achieve the same professional results every time.

Laying out the Mini Top Hat Pattern

a mini top hat pattern

Hat buckram varies in thickness and rigidity. This tutorial uses a thick heavy buckram as we have lots on hand, however when making smaller hats don´t worry if your buckram is much thinner. Thinner can be better for a mini top hat, as it’s lighter in weight and easier to wear. 

The pattern pieces for most hats do not include seam allowances, and it’s best practice to glue the pattern pieces to a thin card. Then cut them out so you have a template you can draw around accurately.

Place edge to edge to reduce wastage and for small mini hats don’t worry about grain direction too much.

Most hat buckram is adhesive on one or both sides, in the same way as interfacing that you iron onto facings when dressmaking. 

After you have carefully cut out the hat pieces in the stiff buckram, arrange the pieces onto your outer fabric.

The fabric crown and sides need to be a minimum of 12mm or half inch larger all way around the buckram. I prefer 15mm (5/8 inch) to have ease of working. 

Transfer markings with a pencil or water-soluble fabric marking pen.

Use the correct type of glue

contact glue hat glue

For best results use a contact adhesive (contact cement) to bond the edges of the fabric to the buckram.

It’s essential to work in a well-ventilated room as the glue has a strong solvent base. But after years of working with latex, and other less potent glues this is mess-free, super strong and comes in gel form so there are no drips or wastage.

I would strongly recommend the Gel form, as it’s easier to control. Keep the lid tightly shut at all times when not in use.

Once you have your buckram pieces and main dress fabric pieces cut out, bond the fabric to the adhesive buckram with hot iron or heat press.

Most hat buckram is adhesive on one or both sides, in the same way as interfacing that you iron onto facings when dressmaking. 

Next, apply a thin layer of contact glue to the fabric around the edge of the buckram, and also to the edge of the buckram. Leave glue 5 to 10 mins then fold over so you have a smooth oval with no wrinkles at the edges.

 Put a heavy book or weight on the pattern piece and leave it to bond while working on the hat sides and brim. 

Glue and turn fabric over the edges of hat sides in the same way as the crown, snip curves if needed to ease fabric over the edge. 

Trim one end to the edge of the buckram and fold one end under for a neat centre back seam on the hat.

Check edges are smooth, once bonded move on to the next step.

The pattern, will have the width of the centre back seam marked. Copy this exactly onto the centre back edge of the pattern.

Apply glue to both overlapping centre back edges. Less is more you do not want any glue showing.

Leave a few minutes until barely tacky, overlap and press edges. Then clamp with a couple of clips and leave to dry.

Attaching The Crown to the Hat Sides

The next stage can be done in different ways.

If you are planning on making hats to sell I strongly recommend purchasing the hat making helper (see below). The hat maker produces perfect results every time and turns the trickiest part into a very easy process. 

If you are only making one or two hats then the crown can be pinned to the sides, aligning the centre front and back and the sides, then stitch so that the stitches are barely visible on the outside edge.

You can also hold the crown to the hat sides (upside down with crown flat on your worktop) and dot some hot glue on the inside seam, as long as you keep hold of the hat until each blob of hot glue is completely cold or the hat might come apart showing unsightly glue in the seam.

An exclusive hat making jig

This specialist hat-making jig is adaptable for most of the mini hat patterns that we sell.

Changeable plates are swapped for different hat patterns that can be bought as you need them.

Please email to order. They are made to order only.

If you plan to resell your hats, and for those working in theatre and film departments this is an essential piece of kit.

It makes attaching the crowns to the sides super fast and easy using a hot glue gun. It holds the pieces in the exact position so they are perfect every time with no sewing, no holding, no mess. 

Available for Mini Top Hats and Full-Size Hats. 

Showing the hot glue bead applied to the seam joining the crown to the sides.

You can also add a hat wire if you want extra reinforcement when making full-sized hats. 

If your buckram is adhesive on both sides, then take care to use a backing parchment or some other protection to keep the iron or ironing board clean when you do not need to bond both back and front at the same time. 

If your buckram has only one side that is adhesive then cut a piece of a fusing web now so you can bond a lining to the underside. In Europe the main trade name is Bondaweb and in the USA Wondaweb or Wunderweb sheets, not hem tape.

Note: the fabric on this hat has been printed with the brown shape in the centre, your fabric will be all the same!

Mini Top Hat, Making the brim

Once you have the top and undersides of the brim covered, sew your bias binding to the brim edge.

If you are using pre-bought folded bias binding then unfold one edge and measure how it will fold over the edge to sew the first seam at the correct distance from the edge on the top side of the brim starting at the centre back seam. 

a mini top hat brim

Overlap and fold over the edges at the centre back and tuck in carefully as you turn the binding over the edges. 

Pin if you need to hold as you sew the binding from the top side. 

Turn binding to the underside, arrange the overlap seam at the centre back neatly tucking in with a pin the edges, and then top stitch from the top side. 

Sew slowly, checking if you are catching in the edge underneath. Then, if needed, sew a second row of stitching to keep the bias binding neat and flat. 

a mini top hat brim

Carefully apply contact glue to the top side of tabs and leave at least 5 mins. Fold the tabs upwards as shown in the photo.

Apply contact glue to the lower inside edge of the hat sides. Then wait a minimum of 5 minutes.

You may find the fabric has soaked all the glue up. If so it’s a good idea to apply a second layer of contact glue to both tabs and inside the lower edge of the hat sides. You want this joint to be strong.

Wait after you apply the second glue layer, it should not be gooey but almost feel dry with a very slight tackiness. 

Note contact adhesive is not easily re-adjustable, so mark your hat centre front point and centre back on the brim and the sides with tailor’s chalk/visible textile pen, or use a pin.

Make sure these marks align. Then begin with the centre front tab.

Press to the inside of the hat. So that the brim is firmly pushed up to meet the hat sides.

Repeat for the centre back tab. Then repeat at the side quarter mark, then the tabs in between.

This pattern is made to fit exactly. If yours does not fit then it has not been cut exactly to size or your covering fabric is too thick.

The method is exactly te same for the mini top hat with curved base.

For the curved base, mark the centre front and back points on your hat sides and your brim.

I have exagerated  these marks to show that the points must be in exactly the correct places!

Align centre back first, then centre front, then the quarter marks, which will be puched upwards into the curve.

If you have cut everything accurately the remaining tabs with just push neatly into place.  If you brim is not exact it won’t fit, always practice doing this on a cardboard mock up so you get the feel for it before cutting your main hat. 

Also using contact glue you need to wait the correct amount of time for the glue to be not runny or sticky. This type of glue bonds to itself on a molecular level, it can feel quite dry to touch but the two bonded sides will grip exceptionally well. 

Showing the folded tabs UNGLUED before they are pressed down to secure on the curvy base mini hat. 

Push down and hold tabs 3 and 4 firmly into the  curved dip.

The numbers are the order that the tabs should be pressed into place, then fill in the quarter tabs.  

Fold in half some length of 6mm or 1/4 inch wide elastic and either sew or hot glue so you have a loop at the top and stem to stick to the hat.

Make the stem at least 2.5cm (1 inch) long.

If you are using hot glue, use something heat resistant, such as a wooden spatula, to firmly press and hold each loop into position until set.

Apply as many as you want around the sides so you can attach them to hair grips, ribbons, Alice bands or whatever you will use to secure your hat.

The mini hat linings do not need to be fitted in the same way as full-sized hats. 

It’s easier to cut one lining and gather the top and glue it to the inside of the crown.

The edge of the lining that will fit around the opening needs to be hemmed, either by sewing, using Bondaweb, and ironing flat or glueing.

As long as the raw edge is turned you can use whichever method suits you. 

Sew back seam together and press open.

Hands sew a single row of running stitches and gather what will be the top edge. 

Note: this lining has been starched to make taking pictures easier, if yours is soft and floppy that is fine!

Drop the lining inside the hat to check the edges are fitting. 

Take the lining back out after you are happy it’s all looking good, and apply some hot glue to the centre of the inside of the crown, then push the lining gathered part onto this to hold the lining in place.

Use something to gently press the gathered part onto the glue, it’s hot and can burn if you use your hand.

The glue should not ooze through your gathered fabric but anchor it nicely. 

Arrange the lining as shown and either hand sew the edge of the brim lining to the edge of the sidelining. Or apply contact glue or hot glue and press the linings together. 

Using hot glue to do this is a bit of an art, the main trick is not to have a cheap $5 glue gun that drips.

We can recommend the cordless battery Bosch small glue gun it never drips and you can be really precise without oozing glue everywhere. It is perfect for this job and adding small details when decorating hats. 

A completed Mini Top Hat

Showing the finished hat ready for decorating with ribbons and trims.