A witch hat is a pop culture type of hat worn by witches, typically with a wide brim and a conical crown. The modern witch hat was popularized by The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 film in which the Wicked Witch of the West wore a typical witch hat. L. Frank Baum’s original 1900 novel featured illustrations of the Wicked Witch of the West wearing a tall, conical hat.
Learn more about this popular Halloween costume item below.
Design and Origins
The pointed Witch Hat we know today evolved from anti-Semitism, the mummified remains of Subeshi’s ‘witches,’ alewife hats, anti-Quaker prejudice, and theories associated with black magic and witchcraft.
According to one theory, the image was inspired by anti-Semitism: the Fourth Council of the Lateran released a mandate in 1215 requiring all Jews to wear an identifying headpiece, a pointed cap identified as a Judenhut. This hat style may have become associated with Satan worship, black magic, and other acts of which Jews were accused.
Another theory holds that the witch hat evolved from the Phrygian cap, associated with Mithraism, a Greek and later Roman mystery cult.
An earlier theory is that the mummified remains of Subeshi’s “witches” wore pointed, tall black hats that resembled the iconic headpiece of their medieval European sisters. Subeshi, which dates from the 4th to the 2nd centuries BCE, is situated in a high gorge just east of the major city of Turfan.
According to another theory, the silhouette of the archetypal witch hat arose from anti-Quaker prejudice. Although Quaker hats were not traditionally pointed, Quaker caps were a source of cultural contention. It is possible that the Puritan outcry against Quakers in the mid-18th century helped contribute to hats becoming a piece of demonic iconography.
Another theory holds that witch hats evolved from alewife hats, the distinctive headpiece worn by women who homebrewed beer for sale. According to this theory, these hats gained a negative connotation when the male-dominated brewing industry accused alewives of selling tainted or diluted beer. The alewife hat may have become associated with witchcraft due to the general skepticism that women with wisdom in herbology were operating in an occult domain.
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How to Make a Witch Hat
If you wish to dress up as a witch this year, or if your child wants to dress up as a witch, you might want to make your costume to save money or for fun. Making your witch hat allows you to personalize this important part of the costume, and you don’t have to learn how to sew!
Making the Cone
Collect your materials. Making a witch’s hat is simple and only requires a few supplies. Before you begin, you will require:
- black craft foam
- duct tape
- trim material such as faux fur or feathers
- embellishments such as plastic buttons, spiders, or bows
Hold the end of your string at the corner of the craft foam. Then, with your pencil in hand, extend the string a few inches. Trace the bottom of your cone with the string and a pencil; the cone can be as tall as you like.
When you’ve finished making the curved line for the cone bottom, cut along it with your scissors; you should end up with a triangular craft foam piece with a circular bottom.
Cut a piece of wire slightly shorter than the cone’s tallest part. You can either measure your cone from the root to the tip to determine the length of your wire piece or hold the wire against your cone and cut it.
Place a wire in the center of the cone shape as if you were dividing it in half with the wire. The wire should have one end at the cone’s pointy end and the other at the base. Then, grab a piece of duct tape longer than the wire and wrap it lengthwise around it.
When taping it down, leave a little space between the cone’s edge and the wire’s end. Otherwise, the wire might poke through the top of your hat or in the head when you wear it.
After you’ve secured the wire to the cone, cut away any excess duct tape. Duct tape should not extend past the edge of your craft foam.
Apply a couple of bits of duct tape to the hat’s edge to form your cone and secure the edges. Secure duct tape to the flat edge of the cone, then place another piece over it, so it overlaps slightly.
Fold over the cone’s other edge and secure the edges with duct tape. When securing the edges, ensure the wire and duct tape are inside the cone.
Making the Hat Brim
To make the hat brim, lay out another craft foam piece and place a piece of string in the center. Then, with your pencil in one hand and the string’s other end, draw a circle. This circle will serve as the cone shape’s brim, so make it large enough.
Cut along the traced circle’s edges after measuring the brim. Cut as evenly as possible along the line because any choppy edges will show.
When you’ve finished cutting out the brim, lay it on your table again and flatten any curved edges with a heat gun or a blow dryer. If the brim is already fairly flat, there is no need to flatten it further. You can also flatten the brim piece by laying a couple of heavy books on it for a few hours or overnight.
Fold your brim piece in half, making sure the edges are even. Cut the brim piece’s center, then work your way outwards.
Continue to cut until you have a small circle in the middle of the brim piece. Then, to add more flexibility cut four slits in the piece’s inner edges. Remember that the inner circle should be large enough to fit over the head but not larger, or it will be too loose.
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Before proceeding, try the brim on your head to ensure a proper fit. You can adjust it if it feels too tight. If the brim is too loose, you’ll need to make a new one out of craft foam.
Putting on the Hat
Cover the cone seam with a black ribbon before attaching the cone to the brim. Attach the ribbon to your cone with hot glue.
Before gluing the ribbon to the cone, ensure the glue gun is completely heated. Keep the glue gun close to your foam as you apply the hot glue. Otherwise, the glue might partially dry before the ribbon is secured to the cone.
You’ll also need hot glue to secure the cone to your hat brim. Apply hot glue to the cone’s base and press it into the hat brim to glue the brim to your cone. As you secure the cone with hot glue, ensure it is centered over the hat brim.
If you want to dress up your hat, add faux fur and feathers to the area where the brim meets the cone. Use a hot glue gun to set your adornments to the cone’s base.
After you’ve finished your hat and the glue has dried, bend the cone slightly to shape it how you want it. The wire inside the cone allows you to shape the cone of your hat into a crushed or bent shape. Bend the cone in two or three areas to give it a worn appearance.
You can also enhance your witch’s hat with other types of items, such as plastic spiders, a bow, or some buttons. Choose items that will compliment your costume. Apply any embellishments to your witch’s hat with a dab of hot glue.