How to make a Cat in the Hat costume - the ultimate guide

Don’t let book character dress up day stress you out. With a bit of card, and a little ingenuity, you could make this cool Cat in the Hat costume - with, wait for it… actual pop-up cats in the hat!

This costume went down very well with my son, who is a big Dr. Seuss fan, hopefully your kids will love it too.

Boy wearing a Cat in the Hat costume
Where are the cats?
Boy wearing a Cat in the Hat costume - showing cats popping out of the hat
Ah… there they are!
Cat in the Hat costume - close-up of cats in the hat
Cats A, B and C!

How to make one

I’ve provided instructions for making a simple hat, with a hinged lid the kids can open and shut by hand, as well as the more complex pull-cord version. For the latter, I’ve had to condense the instructions somewhat – so that version is for those wanting an engineering challenge!

You can print out the artwork for the Bow tie and Cats in the Hat (link below) - they were drawn freehand by me, based on Dr. Seuss’s original drawings, I’m not taking any credit for them!

They also include some additional details, they might help when used in conjunction with the instructions below.

Download Cat in the Hat artwork

How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustrated guide (part 1)
How to make a Cat in the Hat costume: illustrated guide (part 2)
Can't read the instructions?

Sorry, these instructions are looooong!

What you need

One A2 sheet of white and red card. A piece of currugated cardboard, 1 lolly stick (if you are making the pull cord version). Paper glue, scissors, craft knife, ruler, pencil and red and black markers (if you are drawing your own cats).

Step 1

Trim the white card to a height of 315mm, leave the length the full width of the A2 card.

Step 2

Roll the card into a tube and fit it onto the wearers head, mark the length with a pencil.

Step 3

Allow a small overlap of 20mm and then trim, apply glue along the overlap and reform the tube.

Step 4

Cut 3 strips of red card and glue them around the tube at even intervals.

Step 5

Place the tube onto a piece of corrugated card and trace around it using a pencil.

Step 6

Use a compass to neaten the circle. Cut it out and adjust it until it fits within the tube.

Step 7

Use a ruler and compass to mark out the centre shape as shown (illustration 7). Cut it out using a craft knife.

Step 8

Glue the lid onto white card (the same card you made the tube from) and cut around it - this is to cover up the cardboard!

Step 9

Now glue the lid into the top of the tube.

Step 10

Cut out a circle of white card, the diameter of the lid, add a fold and glue the one end onto the lid (follow illustrations 9 and 10).

Step 11

Draw 3 circles onto white card - one the diamter of the tube, one 38mm bigger and one 15mm smaller. Cut it out as shown (illustration 11) dividing the inside ring into lots of small tabs. Fold the tabs up and apply glue. Attach the rim to the inside of the hat.

Step 12

For the simple version of the hat, create a small 'spacer' box from corrugated card (follow illustration 12) and glue it to the bottom of the lid flap. Now print the 'cats in the hat' artwork onto white card, or draw your own using the red and black markers (use my artwork as a size guide). Cut the cats out and fold them half, before glueing the top half onto the 'spacer' box.

Step 13

Draw a bow onto red card, or use my printable artwork, and cut it out.

Step 14

Use hot glue to attach two paper clips to the reverse of the bow (follow illustration 13). Cut a long rubber band in half and tie one end to one of the clips, tie the other end to a third paperclip, this one fashioned into a hook. This allows the bow tie to be easily put on and taken off

The following steps are for the more complicated cord-pull version:

Step 15

Glue one half of a lolly stick onto two strips of corrugated card and attach to the bottom of the lid flap (as shown in illustration 15). This will be attached to the cord, and controls the opening of the lid flap.

Step 16

Now make a spring loaded 'hinge' to pop-up the cats when the lid is opened. Easy, hey? Well, sorry, no it's not!

Start by making a small box and attach a flap using a paper hinge (see illustration 16). Glue a lolly stick onto the inside of the flap, overlapping the hinge.

Now construct a rounded ramp and glue it onto the top of the lolly stick. Attach an elastic band with hot glue onto the top of the lolly stick, run it over the ramp, and lock it into a slit in the bottom of the box. Glue the box onto the inside of the lid flap.

Use hot glue to attach a paperclip halfway up the inside front of the hat. Now run the thread pull cord through a hole in the back of the hat, through the paperclip loop and glue it onto the bottom of the lid flap lolly stick.

Glue the cat in the hat artwork onto the box flap, add a fold inline with the hinge and leave the bottom section unglued (so the bottom section can be pulled forward when the lid is closed).

Not very detailed, but hopefully enough to get you going!

Do your own thing

Projects like this are tricky to follow exactly, so don’t be scared to improvise. Basically the hat is a tube of card, start there, and make the rest up as you go. Good luck!

Left illustration
Right illustration