When you collect hats, you soon discover you also need a way to store them. Back in the day, this used to be easy since most hats came in a hatbox. However, most of my hats, either vintage or new, have not come in a conveniently sized box. I used to display them by hanging them on the wall or placing them on hat stands, (I rotate my wardrobe for fall/winter and spring/summer, and only put out the current season) but they always got so dusty. I now only keep out a couple of my really wide brimmed hats that are too large to fit in boxes and keep all the rest in labelled boxes. (I use hanging chalkboard tags so I know at a glance what is inside)
About 10 years ago, round boxes were a very popular trend for storage boxes, and you could find them readily at stores such as Michaels and Home Sense, but at some point people realized that round boxes don’t make the best storage boxes for things other than hats! It’s too bad that I didn’t stock up at the time, because it’s almost impossible to find round boxes now.
Anyways, to get to the point of this post, every once in a while I do still come across a hatbox at the thrift store. They are usually in very ugly colours, or have seen better days. However, it is very easy to re-cover a box with either wallpaper or fabric, so that’s what I did to transform this one!
Supplies You Will Need
a hatbox with a lid
fabric or wallpaper of your choice
Mod Podge or other decoupage medium
tacky glue to secure edges, optional
knife and scissors
ruler and measuring tape
foam brush to spread the glue/decoupage medium
lace or ribbon for the lid, optional
I used an unbleached canvas for the outside of my hatbox, and some Art Nouveau wallpaper I had leftover from this antique dresser refinishing project. I chose the canvas because it is neutral and doesn’t clash with the other boxes I’ve done with vintage map printed wallpaper. The thickness of this fabric did lead to a few challenges, but I still like how it turned out.
First, the key to covering a box, is that you need to take into account the thickness of the fabric or wallpaper, which will add bulk. Depending on how tightly the lid fits onto the box already, 2 layers of fabric may add too much width for the lid to fit on afterwards. If you need to make your box a little bit smaller to fit the lid, then remove the wall of the box from the bottom by sliding a blade between them. Cut a vertical line along the seam.
Next, cut a piece out of the side/ring of the box, to make the box circumference smaller. I took out 3/8″ for this box. My canvas fabric was pretty thick, so if you have a thinner fabric or paper, you will probably not need to remove quite that much. Take out a small sliver, and then figure out how much you need to remove by wrapping the top edge with the fabric and testing it. Once you’ve made the side wall smaller, tape it back together with masking tape.
Then, trace the new circle onto the bottom piece and trim away the excess so the bottom will fit back inside the smaller box walls.
Before you tape the box back together, take a moment to trace the circle onto your fabric and lining pieces. It’s much easier to use the deconstructed ring to trace your lining pieces first, rather than after you’ve reassembled it into a box. (I know this because I didn’t remember to do it this time!)
Trace one inside circle for the bottom lining of your box.
Trace one inside circle for the bottom fabric of your box.
Trace one outside circle onto the lining for the lid.
Tape the bottom of the box back to the ring by wrapping tape around the outside, notching it and folding down the tabs. Don’t worry about taping the inside of the box, because the fabric/wallpaper will reinforce that seam.
One more step, if your box is plastic coated, is to sand it lightly so the glue will adhere better. Also, if your box has a bold pattern, like this one did, you may want to check to see if it will show through your fabric. If it does, then cover the box with a coat of white paint before you move on to the next step.
Cut a piece of fabric the length of the circumference of the box plus 1″ and the height of the box plus 1″. Using Mod Podge, glue the fabric to the outside of the box, folding under the raw fabric edge where it meets. If the Mod Podge won’t hold it in place, you can use glue to secure the edge.
Cut triangle shaped notches into the fabric all the way around and fold the tabs down gluing them to the bottom of the hatbox.
Take your bottom fabric piece, or you can do as I did and use a piece of neutral coloured wallpaper, and glue to the bottom of the box to cover the tabs/raw edges. Smooth the bottom, and weight it to hold in place so it won’t curl as it dries.
Turn the box back upright, and simply fold the fabric to the inside and glue in place. Use clothespins if you need to hold it in place until it dries.
Measure a piece of your lining the exact length of the circumference and height of the box wall. Now take your piece and mark a line 1/2″ from the edge. Cut notches up the line. Fold the notches along that line. Coat the inside of the box with Mod Podge and then place the lining on the inside of the box walls. Once you’ve pressed and smoothed the lining and notches into place, you can place your bottom lining circle over top to finish the box.
Now the lid can be done it two ways. I used a thick canvas fabric, so I had to cover the top of my lid with this method, below. If you’re using wallpaper or thin fabric, cover the lid using the same method as for the box- covering the sides first and then using the lining and top circle to cover the notches and raw edges.
If you’re using a thicker fabric like me, then continue with this method.
Trace your lid onto the fabric, and then add 1/2″ all the way around. Attach your fabric piece to the top of the lid and then notch and fold down the 1/2″ along the rim of the lid.
Cut a piece of the fabric the length of the circumference of the lid + 1″ and the height of your lid plus 1″. Glue this piece around the outside of the lid to cover the notches. I cut my top edge very precisely since it was going to be exposed and not folded under. If you have a piece of ribbon the width of your lid, this would be a nice alternative, but I didn’t have a coordinating ribbon.
Now trace your lid onto your lining and add 1/2″ all the way around. Notch the edge of the circle in the same way you did the fabric for the top. Glue in place on the inside of the lid and then fold your fabric to the inside covering the notches with the fabric.
Mine ended up a bit messy where the two meet since I left it with the raw edge, because I didn’t want to add any more bulk. If you have a thinner fabric you will be able to cover those raw edges much more neatly, or you could even cover them with a ribbon.
My fabric also ended a bit lumpy on the outside, since the notches showed through, I glued a piece of lace over the top to disguise it. I really like how it looks so I might even add lace or ribbon around the lid as a detail in the future, even if I don’t need it for disguising purposes!
And then with that, your hatbox is done. Once you let it dry for 24 hours or so, you can start using it.
How do you store your hats? Do you like to have them out on display or tucked into a hatbox?