The Heritage Hall at the Museum of North Texas History is home to a collection of more than 500 western hats known as “Nat’s Hats.” Clay County native Nat Fleming owned a western wear store called The Cow Lot for more than 50 years. When a customer bought a new hat, Nat kept the old one and displayed in the store. When he finally closed the store, he donated those hats to the Museum. Each hat is identified by owner.


Vocabulary for this activity

Compass also known as a pair of compasses, is a technical drawing instrument that can be used for inscribing circles or arcs

Diameter a straight line passing from side to side through the center of a body or figure, especially a circle or sphere.

Circumference the enclosing boundary of a curved geometric figure, especially a circle.

What you will need:
String or compass
Measuring tape
Elmer’s glue mixed with water/ Mod Podge / or you can make your own paste 


On a thick piece of cardboard that is at least 20-inches wide, use a piece of tape to secure the string to the center of the cardboard. You can also use a compass to trace a hole 6-8 inches in diameter (depending on the size of your head.) If your head is 17-inches in circumference, cut a 6-inch hole. If your head is 22-inches, cut a 7-inch hole. For the second circle, draw a circle 20-inches in diameter. (Resource: hat sizing chart.)

Cut out the outer circle.

Cut out the inner circle.

Fold the inner circle in half.

Fold down the top edges to look like dog ears.

Use a yard stick or a straight edge to make a long strip out of paper that is 4-inches wide and 30-inches long.

Measure 1/2-inch from the outer edge and draw a line the length of the strip on both long sides.

Draw triangles in the two 1/2-inch sections you have made with the point of the triangle toward the outer edge. These will become tabs.

Cut out around the triangles to make your tabs.

Fold the tabs into the strip.

Roll the strip to make it more flexible.

Place the rolled strip inside the large ring you made earlier.

Expand the strip to fill the hole.

Tape the strip to the rim.


Turn the entire project over and tape the tabs down from the inside of the strip to the bottom of the rim.

Tape the ends of the strip.

Place the circle from the inside of the rim on the top of the strip.

Tape the circle to the strip.

Turn the hat over and tape the inside of the strip to the top of the hat.

Begin to shape your hat first by pressing down the middle where you see the fold line. Press your thumbs into the center of the top of the hat

Once you have created a dent in the top, begin to press in the outer two edges of the top of the hat.

The top of the hat will have a heavy crease in the center and two dents on both left and right sides. This is known as the Cattleman’s Shape.

Roll the left and right sides of the rim of your hat to create a bend in the rim.

Now that you have built your cowboy hat look over it carefully and add any tape to any week spots.

Tear strips and pieces from paper. I used construction paper but any paper will work.

Begin to glue the strips of paper to your hat.

Once you have covered the inside of your hat, let the glue or paste dry completely. Then, turn the hat over and begin to cover the outside of the hat.

Once you have covered the outside of the hat, let it dry.

Now cover the edges of the rim. Glue down strips of paper to one edge allowing some of the paper to strip out past the edge. Cut any of the strips that may be difficult to fold over while doing this give this side of your hat one more layer of glue or past over the entire surface and let dry.


Once that has dried turn the hat over, fold and glue down the strips. Cover the entire surface of the inside of your hat with another layer of glue or paste.

Have fun with your hat. What games can you play using your hat? What was the most difficult part about making your hat? What was the easiest part about making your hat?

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Lesson by: Audra Lambert