The Making Of – Leather Witch Hats Part 3

Hat details
It’s the details that take this project from cowboy craft to elegant mystique

Finishing your Masterpiece

I remember taking my hat in to Tandy Leather when it was molded and constructed, but not yet dyed or decorated. My favorite employee, John, told me he thought it was an incredible finished project, let alone a work-in-progress. I’m telling you this so you know that from here on out, everything’s a bonus! Have fun with it! This is the time to really show your personality and aesthetic.

This tutorial is a part of a series!

Dying your hat

Water stain Dye
We prefer to use a water based dye like this one.
Begin dying
Use a dauber to begin dying the hat in small sections
Finish Dyeing
Continue working in small sections, buffing as you go

Dying your hat is nerve-wracking and exciting! Make the process a little easier by using waterstain dye – we love the Eco-Flo Dye Tandy Leather carries. It comes in a great selection of colors, has a great even consistency, and is super hyper pigmented (too pigmented? Water based means you can literally add water to thin it out for washes!) You can even mix colors for perfect cosplay matching.

Sealing the brim

Edge Kote
Edge Kote is a great way to seal and finish your edges
Coat Edges
The liquid is applied with a dauber on the brim edges

Edge Kote is a thick, paint-like liquid applied to the burnished edges of leather. Use this with a dauber on the edge of the brim. Unfortunately the colors are a little limited, so if you can’t find the color you’re looking for, try mixing up some acrylic paint and applying it instead.

Finish and Shine

Carnauba Creme
Carnauba creme is a wax used to seal and shine the hat
Apply Wax
Apply the wax generously to the entire hat
Buff and Shine
Buff the hat well. If you want it more shiny, add and buff more layers of wax

There are countless ways to finish, seal, and shine your hat. I happened to have Carnauba creme on hand which I love for it’s rich lustre and ability to be applied over and over again. Just like waxing a car, it’s a ‘wax on, wax off’ kinda deal theat requires a little elbow grease. Stay at one coat for a little richness or layer it up for some show-stopping shine. Jaime’s hat has about 2-3 coats while mine only has one.

Lacing the side seams

Begin lacing
Use leather lacing needles to thread the lacing through the punched holes, making sure to catch the lining
Lacing Inside
View from inside the hat – lacing helps to hold lining in place
Hat Lacing
Continue lacing the hat until all X’s are complete. Let the excess lace hang for added drama!

Lacing is completely optional but also serves a purpose by keeping the lining in it’s place. Use a lacing needle and just about any kind of leather lacing you want. I started at the top and did one direction of laces, than continued back up in the other direction. Leave about 6-10 inches of lace at the beginning and end for extra drama or try tying a bow or adding beads to each end.

Finishing touches!

That’s it! The rest is up to you. How will you decorate your masterpiece? Feathers? Flowers? Ribbon? Dead things? Live things? It’s all in your domain now, you creative mastermind.

We love E3000 or Barge cement for anything that needs glued. Extra lacing, stitching, and wrapping is always fun, too!

Here’s a look at what we did to add a little personality to these hunks of leather.

Jaime's decorations
For Jaime’s hat we used black and irridescent purple feathers, a vintage metal zipper, and a tiny pair of scissors.
Jaime's Skull
We treated, painted, and wrapped this chicken skull to the end of the hat for balance and sinister beauty
Caitlin's finished hat
My hat featured some long hat pins, measuring tape ribbon, and homemade flowers!
Caitlin's detail
Flowers made from real snake shed? There’s something beautifully eerie about that.
Chicken Skull
My hat features a beautifully preserved natural chicken skull – elegant and intriguing.

What do you think? Do you have the courage to try making your own leather hat? Maybe you’ll adjust yours for a top hat, cowboy hat, or the ever-ambitious fedora! We recommend not going much larger than these – they get a little heavy after a while!

Have you worked with leather before? How’d it go? Show us your projects to get featured on the blog!