Are you a budding hatmaker or perhaps a DIY enthusiast scouting for the perfect vintage accessory to put the finishing touches on your outfit? I’ve walked that same path, attempting to chase down the charm of the timeless pillar box hat and realizing just how hard it can be to stumble upon one with an exceptional fit.

After conducting plenty of research and diving into some hands-on crafting experiences, I was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward creating my own tailor-made pillar box hat actually turned out to be!

Key Takeaways

  • Making a pillar box hat is a fun and easy DIY project that allows you to create your own unique accessory using materials like fabric, cardboard or buckram.
  • You will need fabric, scissors, needle and thread, glue or fabric adhesive, and any decorative embellishments you want to add.
  • To make the foundation of the hat, create a pattern using cardboard or buckram and cut out the necessary pieces. Strengthen them by adding additional layers for stability.
  • Attach the fabric to the foundation by sewing it with small stitches or gluing it with fabric adhesive. Trim any excess fabric neatly for a polished finish.
  • Optional finishing touches include trimming excess fabric carefully, attaching a lining on the inside of the hat for added comfort and durability, and adding a hatband or ribbon for decoration.

Materials and Tools Needed

A vibrant arrangement of sewing tools and fabrics on a table.

To make a pillar box hat, you will need the following materials and tools: fabric (choose a type that is suitable for hats such as wool or felt), cardboard or buckram (for the hat foundation), scissors, needle and thread, glue or fabric adhesive, and any decorative embellishments you want to add.

Fabric (type and amount)

You will need fabric for your hat. The type of fabric you use can change the look of your hat. A firm fabric makes a solid hat. A soft one gives it a fluffier feel. You will need about two yards of fabric to make sure there is enough to cover the whole hat and for any mess-ups that might happen during the making process.

Make sure your fabric matches the style you want for your new, cool pillar box hat!

Cardboard or buckram

A photo of various materials and props for a professional photography shoot.

To make a pillar box hat, you’ll need either cardboard or buckram. Cardboard is an easy and cost-effective option that you can find around the house or buy from a craft store. It’s sturdy enough to provide structure for your hat.

If you prefer something more professional-looking, buckram is a great choice. Buckram is a stiff fabric that’s commonly used in millinery, making it perfect for creating the foundation of your hat.

Both materials can be shaped and manipulated to achieve the desired shape for your hat design.


Scissors are an essential tool you’ll need to make a pillar box hat. They will help you cut the fabric, cardboard or buckram, and any other materials used in the construction of the hat.

Make sure to use sharp scissors that are comfortable to hold and can easily cut through different types of fabrics. It’s important to have a good pair of scissors to ensure clean and precise cuts for your hat-making project.

Remember, safety is also crucial when using scissors, so be careful not to harm yourself while cutting through the materials.

Needle and thread

To sew the fabric onto the foundation of your pillar box hat, you’ll need a needle and thread. Use a needle that’s appropriate for the weight of your fabric. A smaller, sharper needle would be best for delicate fabrics, while a larger needle can handle heavier materials.

Choose a thread color that matches or complements your fabric. When sewing, make small, even stitches to secure the fabric in place on the foundation. Take your time and ensure each stitch is tight enough to hold everything together securely.

Glue or fabric adhesive

For this project, you’ll need glue or fabric adhesive to attach the fabric onto the foundation of your pillar box hat. A good quality craft glue should work well, but make sure it’s suitable for the type of fabric you’re using.

Fabric adhesive is also a great option, as it provides a strong bond and dries clear. Just apply the glue or adhesive along the edges of the cut fabric pieces and press them firmly onto the cardboard or buckram foundation.

Make sure to let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Decorative embellishments (optional)

If you want to add some extra flair to your pillar box hat, you can choose to include decorative embellishments. This is totally optional and depends on your personal style and preferences.

Some popular options for embellishing a pillbox hat include adding feathers, ribbons, bows, flowers, or even beads. You can get creative and experiment with different materials and colors to make your hat truly unique.

Remember that the key is to keep it balanced and not overwhelm the design of the hat itself. Have fun experimenting with different embellishments until you find the perfect look for your DIY masterpiece!

Creating the Foundation

To create the foundation for your pillar box hat, start by making a pattern using cardboard or buckram. Cut out the necessary pieces and strengthen them with additional layers of cardboard or buckram for added stability.

Making the pattern

Close-up of hands measuring head circumference with flexible tape.

To start making a pillar box hat, follow these steps to create the pattern:

  1. Measure your head circumference using a flexible measuring tape.
  2. Draw an oval shape on a piece of paper, with the width equal to your head circumference and the length based on your desired hat size.
  3. Mark the center point of the oval and draw a straight line from the center to one end. This will serve as the front seam of the hat.
  4. On either side of the front seam, draw two curved lines that gradually taper towards the back of the oval. These curves will determine the height and shape of your hat.
  5. Cut out the paper pattern and place it on cardboard or buckram material.
  6. Trace around the pattern onto the cardboard or buckram and cut out this foundation piece.

Cutting pieces for the foundation

A collection of cardboard cutouts with various faces, hairstyles, and outfits.

To make the foundation for your pillar box hat, you’ll need to cut out some pieces. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Get your cardboard or buckram ready.
  2. Cut out a circular piece for the top of the hat. This will be the part that sits on your head.
  3. Cut out an oval shape for the brim of the hat. Make sure it’s wide enough to cover your forehead.
  4. Measure and cut a strip of cardboard or buckram to go around the edge of the brim.
  5. Cut another strip to go around the edge of the circular top piece.

Strengthening the cardboard or buckram

To make sure the hat is sturdy and holds its shape, I strengthen the cardboard or buckram. Here’s how:

  1. Apply a layer of fabric adhesive or glue to one side of the cardboard or buckram.
  2. Place another piece of cardboard or buckram on top, sandwiching the adhesive in between.
  3. Press down firmly to ensure a strong bond.
  4. Repeat this process with additional layers if desired for extra reinforcement.
  5. Let the adhesive dry completely before proceeding with the construction of your hat.

Constructing the Hat

Now it’s time to put all the pieces together and bring your pillar box hat to life! Get ready for some hands-on fun as we assemble the foundation, sew or glue the fabric, and add those final decorative touches.

Let’s dive right in!

Sewing or gluing the fabric onto the foundation

A person sewing fabric onto a foundation in a bustling atmosphere.

To attach the fabric onto the foundation of your pillar box hat, you have two options: sewing or gluing. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Place the fabric over the foundation piece, making sure it covers all sides evenly.
  2. If sewing, use a needle and thread that matches the color of your fabric. Start by securing one edge of the fabric to the foundation using small stitches.
  3. Continue sewing along each side of the foundation, pulling the thread tight to ensure a snug fit. Make sure your stitches are hidden within the seam allowance.
  4. If gluing, apply a thin layer of fabric adhesive or glue along one edge of the foundation.
  5. Carefully press the fabric onto the glued edge, ensuring it is smooth and free from any wrinkles or bubbles.
  6. Repeat this process for each side of the foundation, gluing and pressing the fabric until it covers the entire piece.
  7. If there are any excess fabric at corners or edges, trim it neatly with scissors to create clean lines.

Finishing Touches

Trim any excess fabric carefully using sharp scissors to ensure clean edges. Attach a lining to the inside of the hat if desired for added comfort and durability. Complete your pillar box hat by adding a stylish hatband or ribbon that complements your fabric choice and personal style.

Trimming excess fabric

To give your pillar box hat a polished and finished look, it’s important to trim any excess fabric. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Once you have covered the hat with fabric, examine the edges and determine if there is any excess fabric hanging over.
  • Use sharp scissors to carefully trim away any excess fabric, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch of fabric beyond the edge of the hat.
  • Take your time and make small, precise cuts to avoid accidentally cutting too much fabric.
  • If you notice any loose threads or frayed edges after trimming, gently snip them away for a cleaner finish.
  • Pay close attention to corners and curves, as these areas may require more careful trimming to achieve a smooth appearance.

Attaching a lining (optional)

A photo of a pillbox hat surrounded by various people and outfits.

To give your pillar box hat a polished finish, you can choose to attach a lining on the inside. Here’s how:

  1. Cut a piece of fabric slightly smaller than the circumference of the hat’s inner brim.
  2. Place the fabric on top of the brim and adjust it so that it covers the entire inner surface.
  3. Use small pins to secure the fabric in place, making sure it is smooth and wrinkle-free.
  4. Thread a needle with matching thread and tie a knot at the end.
  5. Starting at one side of the brim, carefully stitch through both layers of fabric, securing them together.
  6. Continue stitching around the entire brim until you reach the starting point again.
  7. Tie off the thread and trim any excess.

Adding a hatband or ribbon

To finish off your pillar box hat, you can add a hatband or ribbon. Here are some ideas:

  1. Choose a coordinating ribbon or fabric strip that complements your hat’s color and design.
  2. Measure the circumference of your hat’s crown and cut the ribbon to that length.
  3. Attach the ends of the ribbon together using fabric glue or by sewing them together with a needle and thread.
  4. Place the ribbon around the base of your hat’s crown, positioning it where you’d like it to sit.
  5. Use fabric glue or small stitches to secure the ribbon in place.
  6. If desired, you can add extra embellishments to the hatband, such as a bow, flower, or decorative brooch.


In conclusion, making a pillar box hat is an enjoyable DIY project that allows you to create a unique fashion accessory. By following the step-by-step guide with pictures provided, you can easily construct your own stylish hat using materials like fabric and cardboard or buckram.

Whether you want to make a vintage-inspired pillbox hat or add your own creative touches, this tutorial has got you covered. So grab your materials and get ready for some crafty fun!


1. What is a pillar box hat?

A pillar box hat is a type of headgear that features an oval hat shape and a circular hat top, often seen in vintage fashion.

2. Can I make this type of hat by myself?

Yes, with the right sewing patterns for hats and some DIY techniques, you can try your hand at crafting headwear like the Pillar Box Hat.

3. What materials would I need for this craft project?

To start your DIY hat projects like making a Pillar Box Hat, items such as fabric, cardboard or buckram for the base, and decorative elements are needed.

4. How do I begin to create my own pillar box hat?

You will first construct the basic shape using either paper, cardboard or buckram. Then follow millinery tutorials to guide you on fabric manipulation and other key steps in hatmaking.

5. Can I add my style to it?

Absolutely! With creative sewing skills and good imagination you can design unique ideas into your DIY fashion accessory; maybe even attach a veil if preferred!

6. Where can I find step-by-step guides with pictures?

There are many online resources offering ‘How-to’ tutorials with detailed instructions including images showing every stage of constructing your custom-made Pillar Box Hat.