For this coming Dragoncon in 2012, I will be Making a late 18th Dress with all the accessories ala Marie Antoinette inspired. The dress is from around the 1770’s and after looking at Headwear from the time, I decided on making a Ladies 3/4 Tricorn Hat, similiar to the ones worn in the Marie Antoinette film from 2006. The movie..not so great script wise…Fabulous eye candy when it came to costumes and set design.  I do know that Women did wear them in the Earlier part of the century but it was worn more like a Bicorn later down the line. Since my Entire ensemble is “Historically Inspired” rather than for a Re-enactment, I really want to have fun with it. I like the hat, so I’m making it!!

Here’s the Inspiration:

The Real Marie did wear this hat!

Here is Kristen Dunst from the Movie


Some of the 3/4 Tricorns are meant to sit on top of the head on the hair-do, rather than fit snuggly on the head. Mainly to Not ruin their fancy hair. 

This particular Hat Style also came back in fashion during the Victorian Age, mainly as a Riding hat. I’ve seen a lot of the Steampunk ladies also use this particular style with their costumes. 

So I thought I would try my hand at making one of these rather than shelling out $150 up to $300 for one on Etsy. 

Materials List

  • 1 yard minimum of Heavy weight Buckram (Sold and Joann’s or Online)
  • Carpet Thread/Dual Duty Heavy weight Thread
  • 18 or 19 gauge Wire (I am used19 gauge wire from the Hardware Store, cheaper than Millinery wire. I got 50 feet of wire for $3.86 at True Value)
  • Wire Cutters
  • 3/4 of a Yard of Felt or Fleece 
  • Long Sharp Needle (s) that can go through many layers. A curved needle works best. 
  • Scissors (I suggest a old pair for cutting the buckram, it will ruin them for cutting fabric)
  • 1 to 2 yards of Your fashion fabric (You will need enough to cut some diagonal bias pieces at least 30 inches long). I suggest Lightweight fabrics for less Bulk. I’m using Taffeta. 
  • Pins…Tons of pins!!! You will bend some of them. quilting pins are stronger if you have them. 
  • Optional 3 M Adhesive, Tacky Glue 
  • Large pieces of paper for pattern making (Old Roll of Gift wrap works!!), Ruler, pencil
  • Any Trims, Baubles, Bows, Ribbon etc you want on the Hat
Step 1:
Make your Pattern
Figure out hows big you want to make your hat. You can make it bigger if you want a full size Tricorn. the Pattern and Basic instructions are pretty much the same. 
For the 3/4 Tricorn I made, I went with an Eliptical Crown shape.
I patterned an Ellipse that was 6 inches (15.4 cm)  x 6 1/2 inches (16.51 cm) for the top Crown piece.
I then Made a Strip 24 inches Long (60.96 cm) x 3 inches Wide (7.62 cm) This is the Bottom crown
You can make the brim whatever size you want. Sometimes Tricorn Fold over the crown. In this case, I only wanted the brim to flip to reach the top of the Crown, not over. Just add a few inches to make it bigger. Once you put the frame together you can decide later if you want to cut it down to a smaller size. In Hindsight, I should have made the brim a little bigger and next time I will. But this still gave me a nice look.  
I Drew an Ellipse 12 inches by 13 inches. I did not have a compass, so it’s not exact. I do suggest one!! Down below you can see my patterned pieces and my convoluted way of getting an elliptical shape without a compass. Hey, it works. 
The middle Hole should be about 5 Inches in Diameter. 




STEP 2: Cut out your Buckram using your pattern pieces.

You won’t need seam allowance for these. Any subsequent Fabric will need at least a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Working with curves means you need more fabric than you think. Anytime you work on Curves..Cut on the bias…You will thank me later. basically 45 degree angled cuts. I’ll explain that later down the blog.  



This is heavyweight Buckram. If you want an even stiffer hat I suggest ordering Double Buckram from a Millinery Supply House. For the small Hat we can just use the Regular strength. Hats are floppy until they are strengthened by wire and Fleece/Felt. 


Step 3: Sew your Crown pieces together.

Top flat piece to the 30 inch long strip. Cut off excess buckram and join the seams together. Now you should have a Pillbox Like the one below.. Did I mention I hate Hand sewing… I Mean Like REALLY Hate it! Thus the Uneven stitches..But it gets the job done and this puppy is not coming apart. Notice the hand sewing makes me a bit..Cross-eyed. Image


Step 4: Wire the Bottom Crown

Take a piece of wire slightly Longer than your crown. Sew it to the bottom of your “PillBox”. You want it to sit on top of the edge, not on the backside or front. I suggest using a blanket or buttonhole stitch to keep it on the edge. Similar to what I have done in the picture below. When you get to the two wires meeting you should slightly overlap them and tie down with a knot or do a little twist with a pair of pliers. It’s going to get covered with felt, so you don’t have to worry about wires poking you.


Step 5: Attach the brim. 

Attaching the buckram brim will take a little fiddling to get it on. Whatever you do, don;t get all happy with your scissors and cut the brim hole too big. Cut the whole about an inch smaller in circumference from your crown top pattern about 5 inches in diameter, You will be making Cuts to make it fit. Clipping it on the curves. 

ImageThis is your flat brim piece with the hole marked and the initial Clips Drawn in. Carefully clip the hole until it fits snuggly over the crown


Like this!!

ImageIt’s all curly. But you can flatten the buckram out over night by putting something heavy on it. Typically they come rolled up thus causing the curls. In my case, It’s moot, because all my brim will tied to the crown.

Now sew your Brim onto the crown attaching at the Wire. 

Step 6: Add your Fleece/Felt. Cut your pieces exactly like your Buckram pattern EXCEPT Your Bottom Crown Piece. Cut this on the bias…Read below.

I’m using felt this time. I did not have fleece and even better for hats is Diaper Cloth if you can find it. You want to cushion and stiffen your hat up. This is where your hat will get it’s weight from.  

I do the inside of the crown first

Felt the inside brim, then the outside brim.

Then Felt your crown. Top piece first then this is where we get to the bias!!

What is the Bias?

Your bottom crown piece Should be cut on a 45 degree angle (The bias). this gives it extra Stretch in order to fit smoothly around the crown base. This is also why you cut your piece about 3 to 4 inches longer than you may think you need. The seam will be angled when you are done. You need the extra fabric to join the pieces. NOT Cutting on the bias will result in puckering sand frustration. 

Here’s a Tutorial on Bias Cutting




Here’s how I attach the Felt Brim. Clipping to fit.



My Cat Lily Inspecting the Inside Fleece. 



OPTION: If you want to just place the Fleece on and not sew it you can use an adhesive. This will make it stiffer in the crown and Will make it harder to get a needle through. It’s not necessary but if you want it stiff and want it to stay, it’s an option. I use 3M Super 77. All purpose Adhesive. Decent stuff and works well on fabric.


So now you have your Fleece/Felt on. Sew it on/Tack it down good. You don’t have to sew it completely all the way around, just enough to keep it from wrinkling under your fashion fabric.

What your Hat should look like at this point.  Don’t mind the puckering in front, I had not tacked or trimmed it but wanting to give you a good idea. I machined stitched the fleece onto the brim. Make sure you use heavy duty needles!!


Step 7: Fashion Fabric

Cut your fashion Fabric pieces with added seam allowance. I typically add 1/2 inch to 1 inch allowance, a little more for the brim. but one inch should be more than enough. 

Cutting Order is different than your original pattern:

1. Cut a 5 Inch BIAS Strip t least 28 -30 inches long. 28 is usually enough but it dependes on how much stretch is in your fabric. 

2. Cut a 2 inch BIAS Strip about 26 inches long

3. Cut a Square that is at least an inch or two bigger than the top of your crown

4. Cut 2 (Bottom and top of brim) circles Slighter bigger than your brim


Sew your Fabric to your brim joining the top and bottom brims seams. You can either do this by hand or machine. Remember you can cover seams with Trim to hide stitching. You will need to clip the inside just like the buckram.

Sew your square onto the Top Crown around the outer edge along the lower crown piece. You will cover this with your bias strip later on to hide the Stitches. Clip the excess fabric. Now put on your Bias strip. Folding the fabric at the bottom and top to make a clean edge. 


YOU WILL NEED A TON OF PINS. Pin it to death!!!

After you are done sewing everything down you can start adding trim. I added piping to the edges like this. It’s an extra step but it looks good! 



After trimming out, add add band you can add all kinds of things to your hat feathers, pins etc. I only got the basic trimming done for the photo below. I plan to add a lot of decorative items, peacock feathers etc.