Turning a $1.29 Halloween Witch Hat into a Dickens Era Bonnet

So, I was kind of impressed with the quality of this velour witch hat from the 99c Only Store, and thought I’d try to convert it to some other sort of hat, partly because I’ve had luck with having my Costume Class Students turning a bunch of black feather covered witch hats into a series of c.1900 “Edward Gorey” style mourning hats as a class project inspired by having those fairly fancy looking witch hats get dumped by a store in November to less than $1 each. I checked to see if the hat was in fact adult sized in the head…

…and made certain the headband would be easy to remove without damage to the hat.

Finding this to be the case, I bought it, and brought it to the costume studio to test out a prototype for a possible new class project in Spring. I began by removing the hatband and buckle by simply cutting it off where it was sewn into the seam at the center back of the crown.

I sought out among our piles of recyclables, a flexible plastic object that might be cut into a ring.

I then cut out such a ring from this used strawberry container.

I turned the hat inside out, and put the ring on the inside as far as it fit down.

I then flipped the hat around the ring as shown.

I sewed the hat around the ring by hand as shown.


Then I pulled together the remains of the tip of the hat inside into a bunch.

Then I sewed it in place, through the tip.

And cut the tip off inside the hat.

 This made a top of the hat that more resembled a bonnet back as you can see.

I prepared the brim fabric for sewing by crimping it into a simple gather with my thumb.

Then I sewed the brim with the gathers to the back seam of the crown.

I then put the hat on a head form…

…and forced the wire of the brim into a sharper bend, to force the sides of the brim forward slightly.


 I then took the buckle off of the hatband, and paired it with some heavily discounted post-Valentines Day sale wired ribbon.

One yard of ribbon was put into the buckle to make a large bow for the back of the hat.

Another yard and a half of ribbon was selected to form a hatband and chin tie.


Wire was pulled in the ribbon to let the parts of the ribbon going round the crown to fit better against the conical shape of the sides.

 The now curved ribbon was pinned to the sides.

 And the bow was pinned in place at the back where the vestages of the old purple hatband marked the back seam.


 Then the ribbons and buckle were sewn on by hand.

A plastic comb was sewn into the front of the crown to keep the bonnet from flopping back as they tend to do.

 Then a 24″ strip of black lace picked up for 10c in the LA garment district was ironed out to decorate the unprepossessing appearance of the underside of the brim.

I pinned the lace around the center hole of the underside of the brim.

I then used black colored hot glue sticks to glue sections of the lace to the center edge. Because I was working with high temperature Hot Glue, you can see my gloved hands, pressing the lace into the glue. I always recommend using latex palmed work gloves when using hot glue, especially high temperature types.


I then repeated this process out at the edge of the brim with the tips of the lace.


I then picked out some red artificial flowers for decoration. I disassembled them for parts and then glued them to the inside of the brim in an asymmetrical but balanced style.

Here you can see how this looks when worn.

This is a side view of the hat at this point.

 As I save all the kinds of plastic mesh that are used to package fruit (and frozen turkeys) I conveniently had a “hat net” in red leftover from some sort of citrus packaging.

This too, I glued onto the brim.


I then added more artificial flower bits to the back of the hat with more glue.


 These images show the finished hat from the rear.

And here it is from the front, as worn, showing the Tangerine bag netting on the brim. If anyone else comes up with refinements to this process, or makes other versions, please post your images and observations —Tara Maginnis