How to Make a Pillbox Hat

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Pillbox hats were popular in the 1950s and 1960s like those worn by First Lady Jackie Kennedy. They were taller in the 1960s. Pillbox hats were meant to be worn on top of the head. Some were plain. Some were adorned with net and ribbon trim. This tutorial shows how to make a reproduction pillbox hat using fabric and interfacing.

I made several pink pillbox hats using pink wool with a polyester satin lining and grossgrain ribbon. Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) wore a pink pillbox in "Legally Blonde" 2001 and Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Stauntan) wore one in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" 2007.
Here is what the finished hat looks like on this lovely styrofoam head.
Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Front. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Left Quarter View. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Left. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Back. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Right. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Right Quarter View. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Top. Reproduction Pink Wool Pillbox Hat Inside.



Crown is 22" long and 2 1/2" tall with 5/8" seams added (length ends up being 23 1/4"). Finished crown will be 1/4" shorter after turning hem edge under.
Pillbox Hat Tutorial Pattern.
Top is 7" tall and 6 5/8" wide oval with 5/8" seam added (example: pattern ends up being 8 1/4" tall).
Pillbox Hat Tutorial Top Pattern.


Cut out fabric, lining, and interfacing

Cut out one each of in fabric and lining.
Cut out two each in interfacing.
Mark front, back and sides of top interfacing. These marks will be used to attach the crown.

If lining is slippery cut lining slightly larger than interfacing and trim off excess after ironing.

If lining is slippery and difficult to cut, cut out slightly larger than pattern. After fusing on interfacing, trim excess fabric off.
Pillbox Hat Tutorial lining fabric extra over interfacing

Iron on fusible interfacing

Pillbox Hat Tutorial iron on fusible interfacing

Stay stitch 5/8" on crown fabric and lining, top and bottom edges

Pillbox Hat Tutorial staystitch crown

Sew 5/8" back seam on fabric and lining crown

Pillbox Hat Tutorial sew crown back seam

Trim lining seam

Pillbox Hat Tutorial trim lining seam

Finish seam edges and iron seams

Pillbox Hat Tutorial iron seams

Mark top front and sides on fabric and linig

Pillbox Hat Tutorial mark top front and sides

Clip top seams to staystitching

Pillbox Hat Tutorial clip top to staystitching

Pin the four marked corners to the top four markings matching the back seam with the back top

Pillbox Hat Tutorial pin 4 corners to top

Pin crowns to tops

Pillbox Hat Tutorial pin crowns to tops

Sew crowns to tops just to the left of the staystitch

Staying to the left means sewing so that the staystitching lines do not show on the outside.
Pillbox Hat Tutorial sew crowns to tops

Grade seam allowances with crown trimmed smaller than the top

Pillbox Hat Tutorial grade seam

Pin fabric top to lining top, interfaced sides together, match back seams

Pillbox Hat Tutorial pin fabric top to lining top

Zigzag tops together

Pillbox Hat Tutorial zigzag tops together

Turn right side over lining and pin edges together

Pillbox Hat Tutorial pin crown edges together

Zigzag together about 3/8" from stitching

Pillbox Hat Tutorial zigzag hems together

Trim seam

Pillbox Hat Tutorial trim seam

Sew grossgrain ribbon with edge slightly over stitching, starting a little before back seam

Pillbox Hat Tutorial sew grossgrain to edge

Overlap grossgrain, pink edges of ribbon

Pillbox Hat Tutorial overlap grossgrain ribbon

Iron crown

Pillbox Hat Tutorial iron crown

Measure crown and find shortest measurement or 2 1/4"

Those that are perfect sewers may not need this. I, however, ended up with varying measurements of crown, so here is where we can make the crown the same height all the way around, again.
Pillbox Hat Tutorial find smallest crown measurement

Pin crown at smallest measurement or 2 1/4"

Pillbox Hat Tutorial pin crown edge

Iron crown between pins

Pillbox Hat Tutorial iron crown between pins

Tack ribbon to lining on back, front, and sides

Pillbox Hat Tutorial tack ribbon to lining

Remove pins and iron crown

Pillbox Hat Tutorial iron crown

Trim hat as desired


Or make more.

Completed: September 2016