This year it took my husband and I about 3 brainstorming sessions to pick out our Halloween costumes. Halloween is a BIG deal to us. We have to choose THE PERFECT costumes.
After careful consideration, we have decided to go as quite the iconic duo: AXL ROSE and SLASH (of the band Guns and Roses, for those of you asking, "Who?")! He’s going to be Axl (left), I will be Slash (right). I am beyond excited, friends!
I usually have this rule about no wigs, because they make me so sweaty and it’s still hot here in Arizona on Halloween. I am so jealous of people who live in a climate that actually allows them to experience fall.
But this was just too fun to say no to!
I mean, c'mon. Halloween is a chance to be something you're not. And we are so not hardcore. (Notice the chalkboard drawing our daughter made? That's how we roll.) Infact, this is the first time since we have become parents that we have dressed up in non G-rated costumes. But I think we pulled it off...
Piecing Together the Costumes:
A couple of trips to Goodwill yielded some pretty good finds. Basically I looked for a worn out looking t- shirt for Axl and a black vest or button up plaid shirt for Slash. For our shirts I spent $5.99 and $3.99, respectively. Plus $3.99 for the flannel around his waist.
Pants and Boots:
For Travis’s shorts he spent $7.99 at Goodwill. I already owned the faded black skinny jeans. Both sets of boots are my husband’s. No, my feet are not that big…I stuffed a sock in the toes.
Both of our wigs and a few of the accessories we were able to find on Amazon. This bandana, wig, and sunglasses set was the one I picked out for Travis. It was such a bargain at $17.28. This is the wig I chose for me, because it seemed the fullest and looked most like his hair did back in the day. Only $16.49. I got my sunglasses at Fry’s for $6.99 and a wrist band at Goodwill for $1. My gloves I borrowed from my sister's stash. Travis's black bracelets are actually just the strips cut from the sleeves we removed from his shirt.He made his microphone out of a paper towel roll, black Gorilla tape, and a foam ball from Jo-Ann for about $2.50. He used leftover red spray paint from our graveyard project to color it.
But Slash’s hat proved to be a challenge.
All the hats that were modeled after his iconic hat were $30 or more. That was not happening. I am way too cheap to spend that on one accessory, even if it does make the costume. All three of my kids’ costumes cost less than that combined! (Because I made them, of course.)
Then, I remembered that I had some black fleece leftover from another sewing project. Right away I knew I was makin’ myself my first hat.
So, I scoured the internet for tutorials on how to make Slash’s Hat. Nadda. I broadened the search to top hats and figured I would just modify it. Not much more, sadly.
I decided to just figure it out. Which involved a few mistakes, of course.'Just figuring it out' always does. But my lost time spent measuring, screwing up, and measuring again is your gain.
And so, because the internet is seriously lacking in top hat tutorials, or at least explicit tutorials, I’ll share with you what I did right and what I did wrong. In hopes of helping you make an awesome hat for your next costume. And for a lot less than buying one.
I’ll start with very abbreviated directions for the in a hurry sewers in the Short and Sweet section. All the Details will have specific measurements and tips on how to make your hat turn out even better than mine. The first time is always a learning game, ya know? The link to the very brief tutorial I started out with is included in both.
Here are the Materials I used for the top hat:
Here are the materials and tools I used for the embellishment to make it resemble Slash’s Hat:
If you do not have access to an embossing machine you could probably get away with a flat, non-embossed silver oval piece of paper, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The dimension of the embossing really adds something. In an interview Slash said that he actually wrapped a belt around the hat because he thought it looked too plain. Maybe you could find a cheap belt to do the same?
Short and Sweet:
1. Here’s the tutorial I found that set me on my path. Make the three pattern pieces similar to the ones pictures.
2. Start by measuring the circumference of your head. Use that as a jumping off point for size of the crown (that’s the vertical part), then make the top of the hat, then the brim (the part that keeps the sun out of your eyes). I would round off the point of the hatband a bit more, though.
3. Don’t forget to add seam allowances.
4. Did you notice how he tapes together his pattern pieces before cutting his fabric? I did not do that and ended up having to re cut and take in a lot. Be smarter than me. Tape first, then cut.
5. Use your pattern pieces to cut the fabric and fusible interfacing.
6. Fuse interfacing to wrong side of fabric.
7. Stitch brim and crown together.
8. Stitch crown and top together.
9. Use a die cut and embosser to make the band of silver embellishments.
10. Glue it to the base of the crown.
11. Wear with pride, you made it!
All the Details:
(The recommendations for making your hat turn out better than mine are bolded.)
1. Take a look at this short tutorial that was my baseline. Notice the shapes of the pattern pieces. We are going to make ours pretty similar.
2. Make the Crown (the vertical part of the hat) pattern piece.
Start by measuring the circumference of your head. Mine is 21 inches. I used that number to figure out the width of the crown piece. I added ½’’ for the seam allowance. So my crown piece, (the biggest, widest pattern piece) was 21.5’’ wide.
To figure out the height of the hat I (not-so-scientifically) took a ruler and held it up to my head as I looked in the bathroom mirror. I know, sounds ridiculous. But I am a visual person and that’s how I make things without a pattern. This is not a perfect system because you have to allow for seam allowances on the top (where you will attach the top circular piece) and the bottom (where you will attach the brim). Figure on adding 1’’ total for seam allowances. When I looked in the mirror 9’’ looked correct, so I made the pattern piece 10’’ tall. That turned out to be more the height of a stove pipe hat, though. Think Abe Lincoln, not Slash. I ended up cutting a total of 2 inches off the top later. I’ll show ya in Step 6. But I want to tell you now so you can skip the extra cutting and just make it correct the first time.
Fold a full sized piece of tissue paper in half. Measure it to be half the width of the circumference of your head, plus 1'' for seam allowances. Make an arcing line that is lower on each side of the paper. Those low points will be the front and back of the hat.
Now, the main thing I would do differently if I was making this again is to make the points down a bit more rounded and less sharp. To get the sides of the brim to flare up you do need the hat to be lower in the front and back than on the sides, but you want to round it more for less of a pointy, almost western look.
Cut along the line. Set aside the scrap tissue paper.
3. Make the Top (Circular) Pattern Piece
Here’s a little diagram from www.kidsmathgamesonline.com to help you with the terminology in this step.
In the previous step, I measured around my head. That gave me the circumference of that hat and a measurement for the crown piece.
To figure out how big my Top piece needed to be, I took that number and divided it by pi to find the diameter. So 21/ 3.14= 6.687. Super. Not an even way to round that one off. So I divided 6.687(the diameter) by 2 (to find the radius) and tried to get close to the nearest 1/8’’. But I made a big mistake. I forgot to add my seam allowances. Doh! Again, Don’t be like me. Be smart.
Here’s the easiest way I have found to measure a circle without a protractor or compasses. (Most often it’s wrongly referred to as a compass, but it should actually be pluralized. I swear, I am not making this up)
I took a square of tissue paper that was quite a bit larger than the measurement I found for the diameter, so about 10’’x10’’, and folded it in half triangularly, then in half, triangularly again.
I placed the corner that had only folded edges (not the open edges of the paper) on both sides and placed that in the lower right hand corner of my cutting mat. That was to be the center of my circle. Then, I just measured exactly 4- 1/8’’ from that corner, making a dot every ¼’’ or so.
When the dots were all measured out I connected them.
Woohoo! I made a circle! Only took me two tries!
4. Make the Brim Pattern Piece
Okay. I am just going to be straight with you: this is the least fun part of the project. If I were you, I would poor yourself your favorite drink or grab a piece of really good chocolate. Don’t let that scare you off, you can do this. It’s not that it’s incredibly difficult, but it does take some guessing, checking, and patience. I am realizing that I really don’t love the measuring and cutting pattern pieces aspect of sewing. Maybe you don’t mind it and this will be no big deal for you. But for me, it was a good time to go get myself another cup of coffee loaded with vanilla creamer.
I started by looking back at the pictures from that tutorial I found and realized I didn’t really know how big to make the center of the brim piece. So I guessed. You are probably thinking, well, no wonder she made so many mistakes! She’s just shooting from the hip. And you would be correct.
I grabbed the first circle I made (the one that was too small), which was about 7’’ in diameter, folded it in half and laid it on a full sized sheet of tissue paper I had folded in half as well. Basically, I matched up the folded sides.
I traced the half circle. Sadly, that size did not end up working out. When I went to pin the brim piece to the bottom of the crown piece it was about 1- ¾’’ too big. I ended up just taking in the brim and that gave me a bit of a point in the back. I don’t recommend that. It would not work if I was wearing the hat with a wig that wasn’t also black.
So, if I were you, I would make yourself another circle for sizing the brim pattern piece, following the same steps as you did to make the top pattern piece in Step 3, but make this circle a diameter of 6- 1/8’’, a radius of 3- 1/16’’. You’ll be a lot happier with the finished product.
Now, I don’t have a picture of the correct size brim pattern piece (because I foolishly just altered the one I had instead of making a new one) so just keep in mind the brim in my pictures will be larger than yours with a slight point in the back. The method is the same, though.
Fold your newly made circle in half and match up the fold line with the fold line of a large sheet of tissue paper. Trace around it. Now, grab a ruler and start marking dots about every 1/8’’ exactly 3 inches from the half circle you just traced. (I arrived at this number by looking at inspo pics and deciding that I needed the finished brim to be 2’’ wide. This time I remembered to add in my seam allowances. Go, me!)
I only marked dots on the left side of my half circle, then connected them.
I did this so I could fold the half circle in half to cut, saving time measuring and cutting the other side.
Cut along those two lines, making sure to keep the paper from sliding. Unfold. It will look like this:
This is the point I should have taped my pattern pieces together, but didn’t. Do yourself a favor and tape them together to make sure they fit together well. If you have made a mistake it will save you time and fabric later. Use a tape that can easily be cut through. Like scotch tape.
5. Time to Pin and Cut Your Custom Pattern Pieces
Use your pattern pieces to cut out the following from your material (I used black fleece):
1 top piece
1 crown piece
2 brim pieces
Note: the brim and crown pattern pieces are folded in half and laying on the fold of the fabric. Both for this picture of the fabric as well as the next picture of the fusible interfacing.
Use your pattern pieces to cut out the following from your fusible interfacing (I used Pellon 809, but going with a heavier weight might not have been a bad idea):
1 top piece
1 crown piece
1 brim piece (you might want to try cutting two so there’s interfacing on both brim pieces…it may help the hold the shape a little better)
Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the pieces. One of my brim pieces does not have interfacing, yours might.
6. Stitch the Pieces Together
Pin the side edges of the crown piece together. Stitch together.
Remember earlier when I said I looked in the mirror to check the height of the piece and trimmed off two inches? This is what I was referring to:
Pin around the outside of the brim pieces (which are positioned right sides together, wrong sides out). Stitch together.
So here is what you have so far. If you take a look at the brim piece you can see that this was after I resized it by taking it in. On the right side see that black fleece that pokes through in a straight line? That is from the seam allowance of my alteration. Looking at this picture you would think I would have noticed it created a point on the outer curve, but I didn’t.
This is where it starts to get fun…it starts to take shape!
Turn your brim piece right side out. Press with an iron. Here’s why: The left side was ironed and the right side wasn’t. It really is so much easier to work with if you press your seems. (This public service announcement brought to you by a woman who has mumbled far too many curse words because she was too lazy to press her seams.)
Turn the crown piece right side out. Pin the brim piece to the bottom (or curved) edge of the crown piece. I matched up the seams, but hopefully you won’t have a seem on your brim piece.
Sometimes when you work with interfacing the stiffness can push the fabric around a little when you are pinning. (Or maybe that’s just me?) Double check that the side of the brim piece that is touching the hat (the side you can’t see) didn’t get bunched and is laying flat against the crown piece.
Now, this next part is totally optional, but it does help hide the seams if you don’t want to deal with adding a piece of fabric to the inside of the hat. I stitched the seams to the crown piece.
Making sure the seam was flat as I went.
Something to keep in mind if you do sew the seams to the crown piece… it will create sort of a small band around the base of the hat where the brim and the crown meet. I knew that was going to be mostly covered by embellishments so I wasn’t worried about that. But, if your hat is a plain top hat or a light color (it is more obvious with light fabrics) you may want to use interfacing or fabric glue to secure the seams instead.
Turn the brim and crown pieces, which are now attached, wrong side out. Pin the top piece to the top of the crown piece, also wrong side out (or, wrong side up, in this case.)
Take a look at your seam. It is tricky to sew in a circle, so just check to see if there are any spots that got a little straight. I recommend fixing them because there is nothing to hide the top of the hat if it is mis-shaped. I only had two fixes. That took me three tries each to get right. Big sigh. But, it was worth the time spent fixing them.
Turn it right side out. Wohoo! You have made a hat! If you just want a top hat, you’re done. If you want Slash’s hat, keep reading.
7. Make the band that will go around the base of the crown.
Measure the circumference of your crown. Add ½’’ for overlapping the ends and glueing.
My band was 23.5’’ wide
By 2’’ tall.
8. Make the Silver Embellishments
To cut the silver vinyl ovals I used a set of Spellbinders oval die cuts with my Cuddlebug v2 Embossing Machine. Those things are so much fun. I use mine for all sorts of crafts every party and holiday. I highly recommend getting one. Or better yet, put it on your Amazon wishlist and ask Santa to get it for you for Christmas, like I did. (And no, this is not a sponsored post. Cuddlebug has never heard of little óle me.)
Stack the materials in order from bottom to top. The A Plate, a B Plate, the vinyl (face up), the die cut (with the ridgey part down), and the C plate. Here I have it staggered so you can see:
But really it is all perfectly stacked so it can be rolled through the machine from one side…
To the other.
To emboss is a little different than, cutting.
First, make sure the shape you just cut is still inside the die cut. Because we are going for an embossed oval within an embossed oval, I taped an oval 2 sizes smaller in the center of my cut oval. I also added a piece of tape to the back side of the cut oval and oval die cut because it didn’t want to stay in there. Must have been because vinyl is slippery.
Again, I stacked the materials in order from bottom to top. This time it was the A Plate, the Oval Die Cut with the paper still inside turned wrong side up, some cardstock to shim it out, the Embossing mat, a B Plate, and a C Plate.
Stack the sandwich and roll it on through.
Carefully peel the paper away from the large oval. You do not want to let the vinyl fold because every little crease shows up. It’s more finicky than paper.
Carefully peel the tape away from the smaller oval and separate it from the vinyl oval.
Now, pull the paper off of the back of the vinyl
And place it adhesive side down on one end of your band.
Repeat for the other 8 ovals. There will be a bit of fabric left on the other end. That is the end that gets placed on the hat first.
Hot glue the end of the band to the back of the hat, making sure to get it down to the base of the crown, resting on the brim. Wrap around and glue the other end in place.
If you could go ahead and ignore all the extraneous project clutter in the background, that would be very much appreciated.
Put it on and admire how much you look like Slash! Or if you are me, pick it apart and consider starting over because you made a couple of mistakes. Either way, you just made a replica of a piece of music history.
For a fraction of the price of buying one. Good work!
So what did I spend on making my Slash Hat?
A whopping $2 on fusible interfacing and $1.99 on the vinyl adhesive! $3.99 for a Halloween costume hat ?! Excellent. If I hadn't already had them leftover from other projects, the black fleece fabric would have cost between $3.75 and $7, and the thread would have cost between $1.50-$3.50. So maybe add an extra $10, for a total of $13.99 if you have no supplies lying around. That's still LESS THAN HALF of the lowest price they sell for online!
I spent $66.22 on the rest of our costume pieces.
So that's a grand total of $ 70.21 for both of our costumes combined!
Honestly, that's still a lot of money to me. I like to keep our costumes at about $25 a piece. But this was totally worth the splurge.
One more from the night of our annual Halloween party, just cuz we were really getting our 'hardass musician lean' on. For some reason.
Sorry for the wickedly abrupt crop. Even though our friends were awesome superheroes I didn't get a chance to ask them if they were okay with their picture being up all over the internet.
I think we nailed it! What do you think? The only thing that could have made it better would have been my husband being able to track down some white biker shorts. Yeeesss.
And it was so much fun hearing my daughter explain our costumes to people. “My mommy and daddy are going as Alx Rose and Slash, who are two musicians who made a lot of bad choices, but were really good at making music…” So, freakin’ cute.
Happy Haunting (and sewing, and crafting), friends! And whatever you make, make it yours!
Check out these other festive posts: