Cheats guide ,a beginners, guide to making a Victorian Hat


This will be a post on how to make the small little late Victorian hats .




These are very quick and cheap to make as they are quite small and the easiest style of Victorian head wear to make and wear.

1869 maj - Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, dam hattar


Its easy to make an impressive looking hat as they are  usually heavily decorated or decorated with very eye catching trims

hats again

you will need

a ceral box ,or some cardboard of the same thickness


cellotape or parcel tape

needle and cotton

A small piece of fabric ,velvet ,silk ,taffeta cotton  wool are all suitable

some scraps of ribbon,lace  or other trims such as  feather trim faux flowers or ribbon bows or rosettes

a headband ,the cheap three for a pound kind are fine and preferable as the band needs to be quite narrow.

Ideally Also

Some net ,tulle or veiling this will make the hat look  a lot better but it isn’t essential

some pleated ribbon,

The more interesting the odds and ends you can find to decorate the hats the more authentic they are likely to look.

back claudia gown


pink hat

Before I begin I thought it worth mentioning another alternative  if you prefer a little summery straw hat which looks better if your wearing a hoop skirt or a summery bustle dress

hats fp

,its possible to buy the cheap sun hats  made for children and sold especially around Easter and make excellent little Victorian (and Georgian) style hats by adding lots of trims and veiling especially flowers and feathers,you can sew the front or back brim up or both to create a Tricorn



These look very authentic once on your head.

me john


me tills 1870s dress

green cotton bustle dress


cherry tree back bustle dress

They do unfortunately need a hat pin to keep them in place



harry candid shot



marieant 014

pink c d skitt




To make a little tilt hat from cardboard

find some cardboard ,an old cereal box is perfect

ready brek box scissors

cut out the sides and leave two oblongs from the front and back of the box

ready box cut

Check the ovals approximately the right size and shape ,longer towards the back is good if you want to curve the back to give height ,smaller narrower ones work if its going to be ontop of a complex hairstyle ,now cut out the second of the ovals.

hat guide to

Tape together and check again its the right size (see Above) then fully cover in tape

hat guide base

Place the ovals on top of  your chosen fabric,,the fabric your dress is made with is ideal ,I have used velvet here which works well as it has slight stretch ( I also made a hat with shot taffeta which I will show at the base of this post ,but I wanted to use the basic steps with the minimum of trims  for the making instructions,use a bigger piece than normal for your first hat in case you make any mistakes ,ordinarily you can use very small scarp pieces from gown fabric etc ,even use two contrasting pieces and cover the gaps on top with trim

velvet hat

gather or fold fabric underneath and sew ,underneath fabric together leaving to small gaps either side for a hair band to thread through  if the fabrics one with no stretch ,as this is velvet you can cut holes later

velvet hat covered back


ruche  the top fabric slightly to give a bit of depth,

hat ruched top

if you have enough spare fabric you can add more  height  by gathered more and more and stuff the gaps with tulle or fabric scraps the photo below shows this with the taffeta hat

hat filling


Now add  some trims ,feathers ,ribbons etc,

hast trims

these can be small scraps and dont need to be bought specially ,pieces from gifts ,chocolate box or flower ribbon ,flowers from Christmas decorations or bits of feathers from old hats or fascinators  or fancy hair bands,earrings etc they wont be seen up close so if they have slight damage this  isn’t a problem.

green hat feathers

you can use the ruched fabric to hide feathers, and as above step where you place the feathers  to give depth.You can use them flat against the hat they dont need to stick up and bend the cardboard as needed to give height at the back and curve the sides downwards,While the top must look good no one is likely to see it closely as its on your head so the sides ,back and underneath are as important especially the back as its likely to be highlighted by your hair style,I try to add a small faux veil to the back any transparent fabric ,net or even lace will work  any length but mid length is best.The “veil” below is from an old evening top

finishedl ical hat back


and add some veiling if possible for the front and top ,this is the part which most contributes to making the hat look authentic ,even small scraps sewn on top help

green fijihsed hast


thread hairband through the underneath and use thread to sew it securely on you can use this to give the underneath more curve  ,try to use a hair band you hair colour or close to it.check how the hat looks from the front back and sides one at head height.The hat may not look very interesting  unworn but once its on it will look great.Many extant Victorian hats in this style also look uninspiring when off .you can make more complicated hats by adding layering which is what the Victorian hats looked like

Heres the steps to decorating the  more complicated hat below  with more trimmings.

finished hat lilac

Work on creating more height  either with extra netting or you can ruche top to a greater height and more complicated gathers then add  some pleated trim around the front but not all the way around to avoid the doily look ,cover any outer edge gap with something else eg feathers

hat side feathers

add feathers stepped some at the back some at the sides and facing different ways,you can cover the feathers ends with the fabric  as below then stitch it so the fabrics ruched over it

hats and feather

,you could also add a few different shades of feather if you have them. to Increase your feathers without buying more  cut longer feathers

cut feathers

and use the end bits laid flat on the hat


hat top

Add some flowers fruit etc add a few together if possible rather than single ones ,more was often the best as far as the Victorian were concerned

decoated top hat


Add any other spare bits of trim ,scraps of veiling ribbon etc add a back veil and front veiling tilt to your preferred shape, make sure each side is interesting in its own right

finished hat lilac


Especially the back

finishedl ical hat back

Individual items wont be noticed but the overall effect will while hats look ok without adding front  veiling will make them look much better


finished lical hat frotn


I hope this has been helpful,while I usually make oval hats with the ends of the oval pointing towards your face you can make them so the long ends go ear to ear and also try assorted shapes .

It may be a while but  I will add a further  hat post with a guide on how to make Victorian  ladies top hat and other felt styles .

black bl c hat

For these you need some charity /thrift shop hats  which you cut up the back and close in slightly to make smaller then twist into assorted shapes .To make a more elaborate version or a smaler l size of hat you need to cut a v shaped wedge out of the back Unfortunately I dont currently have any  vintage hats so I wont be able to add instructions until I find some but here are  the shapes you can create some use hats without wired brims some need wired brims .

blue cloak





bustle red

black dress side train

blue dress wycoller car park





About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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3 Responses to Cheats guide ,a beginners, guide to making a Victorian Hat

  1. Pingback: An very easy guide to Making your own Victorian or Regency bonnet | Hathaways of Haworth

  2. emma says:

    Thank you for this guide, i just stumbled upon it and its very helpful! Also is that a little Cavalier i see? I have one, aren’t they just the sweetest – such lovely dogs with wonderful personalities

    • Hi
      Thanks ,Yes its a cavalier, they are wonderful so loyal and affectionate ,its the first small dog we have owned ,we usually have German Shepherds ,but our current dog was lonely and I had always wanted a cavalier King Charles so we got Tilly and she makse the big dog a lot more confident because its quite timid and shes quite happy go lucky

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