My Crazy DIY Cake-Lady Hat

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I have to quickly get this up (even though I have a million and five things to do today before my crazy spooky Halloween dessert party tonight) BECAUSE there might be somebody just as crazy as me who wants to make a cake hat for their Halloween costume!  Do it! Because it’s fun! Especially if you are like me and you like to play around with cardboard and a glue gun but then again, if you are like me and like to play around with cardboard and a glue gun, you probably don’t need a stupid flippin’ tutorial. I never follow tutorials. I just skim ahead and pay attention to the parts I have questions about. So feel free to skim along!

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First you need a big piece of cardboard. I recommend an amazon shopping prime account and an addiction to getting packages at your front door. It highly compliments a hobby in cardboard whispering. I used a big box about, I don’t know 14×18″ maybe?  Here are the measurements you’ll really care about: (Aren’t you proud of me for actually writing them down?)

  • 3 circles: 8″, 5″ and 2.5″
  • 3 rings: 14″, 8″ and 5″
  • 3 strips: 25″ x 8″, 15.5″ x 4.5″ and 9″ x 3.5″

These are give or take a half inch here and there. You can always trim to fit when you are assembling. But if you start with these sizes you’ll be good to go and will have a little extra.

Tools you will need:

  • a glue gun (duh) and plenty of hot glue sticks
  • a box cutter or exacto knife (preferably with a fresh blade)
  • a metal ruler
  • a self-healing mat or cutting board (don’t be like me and accidentally cut off your mat board and knick your table. Good thing our table is old and Payam loves me.)
  • spray paint
  • notions for decorating (I used ric-rack, pom poms, fake flowers and a bird but you could use anything really.)

Let’s do it!

After you’ve cut all your pieces you need to score your long strips. These are going to bend around in a circle to become  the round cake sides of your hat. The scoring assists in the bending. First score them once long ways. Where to score them depends on how high you like your cake sides to be. I made mine 4 inches high on the first tier and I think 3 and 2 inches high on the second and third, respectively. (I used an existing bend from my box but if you don’t have one just use the backside of your blade to create a very light cut along the top layer of the cardboard that will let it fold on that spot.)

Then you’ll need to cut narrow strips on one side of the long score line about an inch apart to create your tabs that attach to the rings. On the other side of the long score take that score line but turn it into a score instead instead. The cut strips are going to be the tabs that attach to the round ring brims of your hats the un-cut score lines are going to be the round sides of the cake. I know, this probably makes no sense. Just look at the pictures and if it still doesn’t make sense, email me.

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So you see the long strips roll up into the hat sides and the tabs fold up under the rings in a flare. Glue those tabs down to the rings. Repeat for each tier of your cake (I went from larger to smaller).

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In between the tiers that my head didn’t go through (the top two) I glued an extra disc (included in the above measurements) to make it easier to affix layer to layer. Then I attached the smallest circle to the top of the cake. Tah-dah! It’s a pretty sturdy cake once it’s all affixed and glued. I did cut my lower tier at an angle to be topsy turvy but I’ll leave that to the experts to figure out.

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Then I spray painted the whole thing with some chocolate brown spray paint and the underside with a quick coat of purple for added interest (not shown above).

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I glued on my ric-rack around the cake edges to look like fancy icing and then glued on some fake flowers for decoration.

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I searched around my whole house for an old black crow bird to put on top of the cake for that extra haunted touch but I think the cat got it an carried it under the bed or something because I couldn’t find it anywhere. My second choice was this mangled white bird left over from that year I decorated the Christmas tree with fake birds but it’s all gross too because the golden retriever got it. But whatever, it works! It’s a great way to recycle old things that maybe I otherwise should have thrown out.

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Then we put on our costumes and got ready for the Halloween dance at school. Leftover backdrops from Wonder Woman shoots work great for Halloween photo backdrops.

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Joon was an angel, naturally. Bug was supposed to be a devil (I even bought her a red leotard and a pitch fork and devil horns and I was all excited to paint her rain boots red and glue tissue paper flames to them) but she got another bee up her butt and decided she wanted to be a deer princess instead.

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That’s my girl. Deer in the headlights pose was her brilliant idea. She has such a wicked sense of humor.

So Happy Halloween! I know it’s probably too late but if you are a last minute crazy crafting queen like me, may the winds of the glue gun goddess be with you!

The Tale of Two Hats

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Our neighbors down the street commissioned me to make them some crazy hats for a charity dinner party they are attending that happens to have an under-the-sea theme. They knew I might be up for the task based on my paper-maché-snitch-piñata-making skills. Of course I said yes. How fun would this be?

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For the man they asked for an angler fish hat. Great idea, right? Sadly, this monstrosity fell very far short of my imagination of what it should be.  It looks pretty scary but there are so many things wrong with it. Firstly, I had to figure out a way to make the teeth (that I bought off amazon) splay outwards in a big bulbous way. The only way I could figure to do this was by paper-mache over a balloon. That worked but then I had to attach my bulbous shape to the hat somehow.

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I ended up cutting the dried ballon so it lay over the front of the hat and then I attached it to the hat with wire that I had wrapped in newspaper for bulk. Then I had to cover up the wire and the balloon so I used black crafting foam. I think ideally I would have paper mache-ed the whole thing but I didn’t want the hat getting too soggy and I was running out of time.

Black crafting foam is a great medium that can be cut in all sorts of fun spikey ways but wrapping a flat square piece of foam over a round shape is challenging! I could have improved my pattern A LOT but you know me, I just forged on like non-perfectionist that I am. So that means the underside of the hat (the part you see the most when you are wearing the hat has this awkward open space under the mouth. It’s all spray-painted black but it looks like a hodge podge quilt. I guess angler fish aren’t the prettiest of fish anyway so we’ll just embrace it. Then I couldn’t get the foam to match up to the mouth so I cut these strips of spiked foam and wrapped them around like lips. I also forgot to spray paint those strips so they are matte while the rest of the fish is properly slimy looking. Groan.  I think overall it works if you don’t think about it too hard.

BUT! The noodle-y thing that angler fish use to catch their prey does light up! That’s why there is a pretty big opening between the teeth. That’s where you can squeeze your hand inside the mouth to switch the lights on and off. I used the cork fairy lights that I had used for our fairy jar craft. I just covered the lights along the string with masking tape spray-painted black.

It’s a big mess. But you wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you, right?

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So you would think that this sea-foam under-the-sea woman’s hat would be a piece of cake, right? Compared to the angler fish hat this should be something I could do in my sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty! I did everything wrong. Firstly, I decided to add these really cool octopus tendril finger puppet things to the front that should be the back. Yep. I squarely did everything backwards on this hat. The front is the back and the back is the front and there is a big ol’ visible seam on the front. I always do everything wrong first. Except this time I couldn’t go back and fix it second time around because the tendrils were good and sewn and there was no ungluing the tulle and sequined fabric that I wrapped around and glued to the brim. But really, that’s not my first mistake. My first mistake was to buy the hat in blue and purple instead of just blue.

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I ended up hating the purple so much that I spray-painted the top to cover it up. I wish I would have spray-painted the whole thing because the spray paint actually looks pretty good but by the time I figured that out I had already glued dozens of shells and bubbles and pearls and sequins to the hat and they would look horrible turned all flat blue.

So that’s that! Pretty cool but riddled with problems!

Thankfully the recipients will probably neither notice nor care! And now I know how to do it right if I ever need to make these again.