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Monday, 8 April 2013

How to make a Mexican Sombrero Hat for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebrations!

Cinco de Mayo, that amazing amazing holiday where I pretend to be all Mexican (much to the amusement of my real Mexican friends) is coming up. In recent years, the holiday has become so huge that I sometimes wonder, whether it is a grander affair here in the US than in Mexico, its birthplace. While I have a vague idea about the historical origins (ok I just read the Wikipedia article, sue me!), the whole Battle of Puebla with the triumphant win of the Mexican army over the French forces has faded from public memory and the day is more about the numerous parties and parades showcasing Mexican culture. Not that there is anything wrong with this! It gives an opportunity to Hispanics to showcase their rich cultural heritage and it offers others like me to immerse myself in the experience. More than the aforementioned immersion, the thing I most look forward to is getting drunk and partying, all the while dressed in some Mexican costume! What? Blame this one on America's need to make every holiday like St. Patrick's Day!

Before I digress any further, let me rein in my enthusiasm and come to the point for which I am writing this article. I want to teach you how to make your very own Mexican Sombrero. You know that cool large hat that is great for protecting against the sun, yup that one. It is great for any Cinco de Mayo parade or costume party. In case you didn't want to go for a full costume, this sombrero is great for demonstrating your Mexican love. Simply wear it with your normal clothes; on any other day people would've thought you’re mental, but on Cinco de Mayo you would fit right in with the crowds!

I will be teaching you how to create a velvet sombrero hat instead of a normal straw one. I find these to be better looking and more comfortable as well. Let's take a look at the things you will need.

Materials required:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Painter's Tape
  3. White school glue
  4. Some spray adhesive
  5. Chosen Velvet
  6. Faux leather thread
  7. Scissors
  8. Embroidery needle (yes, some embroidery is involved)


1. Take 2 pages out of a newspaper. Spread them out, turning the top page so that its corners bisect the sides of the page below it. Lift both the papers carefully and place them on your head.

      2. Gently push and mold the papers down against the top of your head. Starting at the center of your forehead, wrap the tape tightly around the newspaper. This should produce a bowl shape, which is to be the crown of your hat (the crown is the portion of hat that fits your head).

3. Take off your hat and set it on a flat surface. Press done on the crown gently, so as to spread out the excess paper from the bottom of the crown. Fold up the edges of the excess paper to create a round sombrero brim. Tape the folds into place with some more painter's tape.

      4. Now, mix equal parts of white school glue and warm water in a small bowl. Paint the mixture all over the inside and outside of the paper hat to stiffen it and allow it to dry overnight.

      5. On the crown of your hat, spray some adhesive and attach a piece of stretchy velvet. Smooth and press the velvet down over the glued crown. Tie the velvet into place at the base of the crown with a piece of faux leather thread. Tie the thread into a decorative bow or let the ends hang against the brim of the hat. There should be still some velvet left to cover the brim of the hat.

      6. Lift the velvet that is present on the brim but is not glued to it. Spray the paper on the brim with some adhesive and press the velvet onto it. Smooth the velvet with your palms. Cut away the excess velvet around the edges of the brim, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of excess.

      7. Flip the hat over and cover the inside with velvet as you did the outside. Trim this piece of velvet right along the edges of the sombrero.

      8. Fold the extra fabric from the top of the sombrero down around the edge. Stitch it into place with faux leather thread and an embroidery needle using a whipstitch. The whipstitch should wrap around the edges of the sombrero.  And, that's it, you're done! The end result should look something like this:
       Remember the final result will depend on the fabric used. In this case, I've used a beautifully patterned red velvet fabric. As you can see, it is a bit smarter than your everyday sombrero. 

      Now, most of you will have a beautiful sombrero to show for all your efforts. An unlucky few will have a mutilated hat like thing and a messed up countertop to show, to go along with the less than pleasant thoughts about me swirling in their heads. To the former, I say good job and to the latter, relax and try again. If it doesn’t work out the second time, just buy the damn thing! (You should know by now, I've a sarcastic sense of humor). My next article is going to be about costumes and accessories for Cinco de Mayo, so keep a lookout for it. Till then, adios amigos!