Rainy days or hot, steamy ones -- either way, you are likely to hear, "Mom, I'm bo-o-ored!" Let Dr. Seuss and his infamous Cat help keep your kids engaged when you make a felt Cat in the Hat hat. Preschoolers will love this project, which they can make easily with your help.
The Cat in the Hat -- Surprising Beginnings
Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most beloved authors of children’s literature. With more than 44 titles to his credit, which are published in 15 languages, he had sold more than 200 million copies of his books at the time of his death in 1991. His awards included two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
One of his best-known books is The Cat in the Hat, which is an enchanting story of rainy day mischief by a tall cat in a red and white top hat. Dr. Seuss wrote the book in response to a challenge following a Time magazine article discussing the deficiencies of school reading textbooks. A Houghton Mifflin editor encouraged the author to create a story using no more than 225 words from a list of 348 words that a first-grader should know. Geisel performed admirably, using only 223 of those words, plus 13 not on the list, in a 1629-word story. Of those 236 total words, 221 were monosyllabic, 14 had two syllables and only one had three syllables.
Celebrate the joy that is Seuss when you and your child make a Cat in the Hat top hat of your very own.
You will need red and white felt for this project. While regular felt will work, younger children may find stiffened craft felt easier to handle.
You will also need a tape measure, pencil, tracing paper, scissors, fabric or craft glue, a plastic crewel needle and yarn.
Making the Brim
Measure around your child’s head at the place the hat will rest.
Draw a circle on the tracing paper, matching the circumference to the measurement you made. Mark a line about 1/2 inch inside that circle.
Mark 3 inches outside the circle, all the way around. Connect the marks to make another, larger circle.
Trace the pattern onto the red felt. Cut around the outside circle.
Make a slit inside the smallest circle. Cut the center away, leaving a 3 1/2-inch ring.
Clip from the center of the ring to the first circle - the one that matches the child’s head - at about 1/2-inch to 1-inch intervals. Fold the resulting tabs up.
Set the brim aside.
Making the Stovepipe
On the tracing paper, draw a rectangle that is 1 inch wider than the original head measurement by 15 inches tall.
Make another rectangle that is the head measurement plus 1 inch by 3 inches.
Trace the large pattern on the red felt and cut one matching piece.
Trace the small pattern onto the white felt and cut two matching pieces.
Punch holes along the long edges of the white pieces with a paper punch about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch apart. This will make the stitching easier for small hands.
Mark the red rectangle every 3 inches to make five blocks.
Skip the first block on the red felt. Glue a white piece on top of the second block. Repeat in the fourth block.
Thread th e crewel needle with red yarn. Make running stitches from hole to hole on the white blocks, coming up through the red layer first.
Tip: Make sewing holes in the red layer with an ice pick or the plastic needle if your child has difficulty pushing the plastic needle through the felt. Center the point of the pick or needle in the hole punched in the white felt and push through the bottom layer.
"Lidding" the Hat
Cut a circle that is 1/2 inch larger than the opening at the top of the stovepipe. Mark a line 1/2 inch from the edge, all the way around the circumference.
Clip the edges of the circle to the inner line. Fold the resulting tabs down.
Making the Topper: Putting It All Together
Overlap the stovepipe about 1 inch and glue the edges together. You may want to use clothespins or binder clips to hold the edges in place until the glue dries. You can also punch holes along both edges, matching them carefully, and add stitching with the yarn to decorate and reinforce the construction. A low-temperature hot-glue gun will also work (use with close adult supervision).
When the glue on the stovepipe is dry, add glue to the tabs of the brim, placing it on the side facing the brim ring.
Insert the tabs in the inside of the stovepipe, at the bottom edge, and press them into place to attach the brim to the rest of the hat.
Add glue to the outside of the tabs on the hat’s top.
Insert the tabs into the top of the stovepipe. Press them into place to attach the cover to the hat.
Tip: If your child has trouble keeping her topper on, punch holes on the sides of the brim near the stovepipe. Thread ribbon or shoestrings through the holes and tie them under his or her chin to hold the hat in place.
Making this felt Cat in the Hat hat with preschoolers will keep them engaged, helping to avoid that silly cat mischief for a little while longer.
Images: Pamela Martin