Tutorial: How to Make the Perfect Witch Hat for Cosplay or Halloween

how to make a witch hat

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Have you tried making a witch hat only to find that it looks stiff and lifeless or keeps drooping? Well, I have the fix for you! Mostly, this comes down to the material you use for your witch hat. I recommend EVA foam (or craft foam). When you make a foam witch hat, you can use heat to shape the foam to your liking. The hat will stay in whatever shape you want.

I’ll walk you through step-by-step how to create your hat so that it fits right and looks perfect. All you need to get started is:

measure your head
Measure the circumference of your head. Remember to measure with a wig on if you intend to wear your witch hat with a wig.

1. Measure your head 

Take a measuring tape and wrap it around your head. This is the circumference of your inner hat. If you don’t have a tape measure, you can use a string instead. Wrap the string around your head and then measure it against a ruler to see how long it is. 

If you will be wearing a wig with your witch hat, make sure to wear it now when measuring your head. Wigs can add 1-2 inches to the circumference of your head. If you create your hat without taking that into account, it will be too small.

My head is about 21 inches around, so I’ll be using that measurement in my examples below. Remember this number because we will be using it to create the cone and brim of the witch hat.

make a swooping line with string
Make a curved line using a piece of string as the radius. For tall hats, about a quarter of a circle will be enough.

2. Decide how tall you want your hat to be

Witch hats can be short and squat, long and narrow, or anywhere in between. I decided to make mine about 18 inches high so that there is some length to create the drooping shape later. This number can be approximate. Don’t worry too much about choosing the exact right measurement, since a hat that’s a couple of inches taller or shorter will still look fine.

Draw a straight line with your desired height onto a large sheet of paper (I just taped a bunch of printer paper together because I didn’t have anything big enough).

measure the line
Measure the line you made so that it matches the circumference of your head that you measured in step one.

3. Draw the top of the witch hat

Draw a swooping line with the height of your hat starting at the line you drew in step 2. Use a pencil tied to a piece of string or a straight ruler so that the length is the same all the way around. Hold one end of the string or ruler and swoop the other end (with the pencil) to create a curved line. (If you happen to have a compass lying around, you can also use that)

Draw about a quarter to a half a circle. If you have a very short witch hat, you may want to draw out the entire circle, and if you have a very tall hat you can create a smaller swoop.

Starting at the first line you drew, take a tape measure or ruler along the swoop line. Make a mark when you reach the measurement of your head that you got in step 1. So in my case, I want the swoop to measure 21 inches since my head is 21 inches around.

Make a straight line from that mark to the point of your hat. Cut out the curved triangle you just created. You’ve just made your pattern piece for the cone top of your witch hat.

cut out the tope cone
Cut out the cone for the top of the witch hat. The curved edge should equal the measurement around your head.
draw a circle
Draw a circle with the radius that you calculated.

4. Draw a circle for the inner witch hat brim

Now it’s time to create the brim of the witch hat. To do this, we are going to need to make two circles: one inner circle to cut out for your head, and one outer circle that will be the edge of the hat’s brim.

Start by creating the inner circle. If you happen to have a bowl or cylindrical object that is the same measurement as your head, you can simply trace that to get your inner circle. For the rest of us, we need to find the radius of our head so that we can create a circle (similar to what you did in step 3).

Unfortunately, this means you have to do a little bit of math (but I promise, it’s really easy!). Remember when you measured your head in step one? All you have to do is take a calculator and divide that by 6.28. Then round that number up to the nearest quarter inch.

For example, in my case: 21in/6.28 = 3.34in

Since we want to round up 3.34 will be 3.5inches (or 3 and a half inches)

Now all you need to do is draw a circle with your new number. Use a string or ruler, attach a pencil on one end and hold it down on the other. Then just draw a circle all the way around that center point.

draw a larger concentric circle
Draw a larger concentric circle to create the full brim of the hat.

5. Create the brim of your hat

Now all you have to do is decide how wide you want your brim to be and add that to the number you calculated in step 4.

For example, I want my brim to be 3 inches wide. I’ll add the 3.5in (from step 4) to the width of the brim. 3.5 + 3 = 6.5 inches.

Using the same center point as your first circle, draw a second larger circle. Use the same technique with a pencil on one end and holding the string on the other. Create a full circle.

Now all you have to do is cut out the brim along the outer and inner circles.

make a mock up
Put together your paper hat to make sure all the pieces fit together and fit on your head.

Pause: Make a mock-up with your pattern pieces

At this point, I recommend taking a moment to tape your paper pattern pieces together to make sure they fit together. If it seems like the cone part is too small to fit the brim, then try measuring again and add some length to the cone.

Also, try the paper hat on to make sure it fits your head and is not too big or too small.

taper the point of the hat
Taper the foam at the point of the hat so that you can glue it together more easily.

9. Cut out your pattern pieces from EVA foam

When you’re happy with your pattern pieces, it’s time to start putting the real hat together. Start by tracing your hat pieces onto a sheet of 2mm EVA foam. If you need to, you can cut your pattern pieces in half and glue them together. For example, I cut the brim into two separate pieces because I didn’t have a large enough sheet of EVA foam.

You can use craft foam as well, but it’s difficult to find large sheets. It will probably be easier to just go ahead and get a large 2mm sheet to use for your witch hat.

After you’ve cut out the cone pieces, create a beveled edge on both sides of the tip. This will help you create the point for the cone shape.

glue the hat together
Glue all the pieces of the hat together.

10. Glue the hat together

Now that you have your pattern pieces, it’s time to glue everything together. Start with the cone. Apply the glue to both sides and begin pressing the foam together at the tip of the witch hat. Then, make your way down toward the bottom edge.

Then it’s time to connect the brim. First, connect the brim into one circle (if you cut it out in halves). Then, glue it to the outside of the cone.

I recommend using contact cement since this type of glue remains flexible with the rest of the foam. You use contact cement by applying it on both sides that you are connecting. Then wait a couple of minutes for the contact cement to get tacky before connecting the two sides.

Once you are finished, give the contact cement about an hour to dry. Then sand any seams that are uneven. I like to use a Dremel Lite for sanding since it makes the process go much quicker, but you can use regular sandpaper as well.

Remember to use contact cement and sand EVA foam in a well-ventilated area. I also recommend wearing goggles and a face mask when sanding so you don’t inhale the dust particles or get them in your eyes.

sand the hat
sand all the seams of the had that are uneven, including the seams on the inner edge of the witch hat.
heat shape the hat
Heat up the foam and then hold it in a bent shape until it cools. You can do the same with the brim of the hat to make it stay in any position.

11. Heat-form your witch hat

When EVA foam is heated, it becomes more malleable and bendable. Once it cools off, the EVA foam will retain whatever shape it was in when it cooled. This is why EVA foam is the best for making a witch hat. You can heat the foam and bend it into your desired shape. Then you don’t have to worry about forcing it to bend correctly later on when you’re wearing your costume.

To heat-form your witch hat you will need a heatgun. You may want to wear a pair of work gloves as well, to protect your hands from the heat.

Wave the heatgun over the surface of the hat to heat up the plastic foam. You’ll notice a change in the surface of the foam. With one hand inside the hat, bend the tip of the witch hat backward. Hold the foam in place until it cools completely (it only takes a couple of minutes). If you’re not happy with the shape, heat up the foam again and continue to bend and fold the EVA foam until it looks right to you. You can reheat the foam as many times as you need to.

Always stay in a well-ventilated area when heating EVA foam. When hot, it gives off slightly toxic fumes (similar to paint thinner), so you want to make sure you’re not inhaling too much of it.

the unpainted hat
When you’re finished, your hat will stay in position.

12. Paint your hat and add details.

Once you’re happy with the shape, all you need to do is prime and paint the witch hat. I recommend using a flexible primer and flexible acrylic paint. This way the paint won’t start to crack as the hat is bent (the foam retains its flexible properties even after it is heated and shaped). Depending on the colors you’re using, you probably want to add 2-3 layers of primer and paint.

Once it’s painted, you can add a ribbon, feathers, or whatever you want to decorate your witch hat. I added a ribbon around the base of the cone and glued it in place with hot glue, but you can feel free to be as creative as you want.

the painted and decorated hat
Paint and decorate your hat however you want to.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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