Recycled Crafts: Microwave Dinner Tray to Flower Pillbox Hat

One of my most treasured possessions is a hat collection I inherited from my grandmother. It’s not just any hat collection, but an incredible set of vintage hats from the 40’s and 50’s that I wish to god I could get away with wearing every day. Sadly, these hats, though beautiful, are completely impractical and not everyday wearing kinds of hats. In fact, I’ve only been able to wear one of them on only one occasion – to a wedding (and my husband looked at me a little cross-eyed before we left).

As I ate lunch from the freezer last week, I was left with a little black plastic tray that I would normally toss in the trash. But I had a feeling I could turn it into something cool, so I washed it out and held onto it until inspiration hit me – and it did when I saw my grandmother’s pillbox hat:

Old Pillbox Hat and New Pillbox Hat Made from Plastic Dinner Tray

Since it’s Earth Day this week, this is the first in a series of recycled crafts. Woot!

What You Need to Make this Pillbox Hat Recycled Craft

Recycled Craft Pillbox Hat Materials
Here’s my rather simple materials list  (not everything is pictured above)


    • A black single serving microwave dinner tray (washed!)


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  • Green ribbon (I bought this green ribbon from the scrap heap at my local craft store for less than $1). I prefer wired ribbon for this project so that the bow (pictured below) holds its shape.



  • A 14″ inch square of black tulle (you could get uber-recyclely geeky and use the netting from a produce bag instead, but I didn’t have any in black)



  • A thin and stretchy elastic hair headband (for the full head, not a pony tail holder)



  • A safety pin



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  • Tissue paper and pipe cleaners to make your tissue paper flowers



  • Wire cutters



  • Glue gun




How to Make this Pillbox Hat Recycled Craft



Tissue Paper Flower Ribbon Leaves


Mini Tissue Paper Flowers

First you need to make your flowers (tissue paper flowers instructions here). I made mostly small flowers with some larger flowers as accent pieces. As pictured in the materials section, I made:


    • 8 mini pink flowers from 1 inch squares of tissue paper


  • 7 small yellow flowers from 1 1/2 inch squares of tissue paper



  • 3 small accent flowers from darker colored multi-colored tissue paper (and the brown pipe cleaner centers on these made them look really striking!)



  • 2 medium multi-colored flowers using yellow and white tissue paper, varying from 1 inch to three inches



  • 1 large ‘centerpiece’ flower using 4 inch pieces of tissue paper. I spent a bit more time and creativity on this flower, using extra ribbon as additional leaves and cutting more intricate petals out of the tissue paper


Your microwave dinner tray may vary in size from mine, so you may need more or less flowers than this.

Pillbox Hat Bow

Pillbox Hat Bow with Flower
Pillbox Hat Bow with Flower

Also, make your accent bow with about 15 inches of ribbon and one of the small accent flowers. Simply tie the bow like you would tie your shoes, make it symmetrical and pretty, and then snip off the ends with a diagonal cut. Then I just used the pipe cleaner end of the flower to wrap it around the center of the bow and secure it into place.

Make the Hat Veil 1

Make the Hat Veil 2

Make the Hat Veil 2

Make the Hat Veil 3

Make the Hat Veil 3

Tissue Paper Flower Arrangement

To make the veil, grab the left corner of the square of tulle and bring it up to the top corner. Do the same with the right corner, and then you’ll have two ‘flaps’ (seen on the far left of the first photo) sticking out. Bring those two flaps in to the top corner so that all the visible corners of the tulle square are together (see picture two). Safety pin the corners together. Now, cut off the last corner in a rounded fashion like in the last photo.

Tissue Paper Flower Arrangement

At this point I highly recommend doing a ‘trial run’ and arranging your flowers on top of the hat to determine where you want them before you glue them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done some craft ‘on the fly’ and then wished I hadn’t glued everything in place.

Glue Flowers to Pillbox Hat Glue Flowers to Pillbox Hat

Once you know where you want your flowers, you can rev up your glue gun and start gluing! Glue down a layer of ribbon to act as a base for the flowers. It looks prettier and helps to add interest while covering up the top of the plastic tray.

Add your flowers to the outside rim first, then add the second inner circle of flowers next. Try to strategically cover up the pipe cleaner stems as you glue down the second circle.

Leave the center open so that we can add the veil and the centerpiece flower.

Glue the Veil in Place Glue the centerpiece flower in place

In the center spot, glue the veil in place. Make sure that it covers the part that you want to be the front of the hat. Now glue your large centerpiece flower on top of the veil to cover up the rest of the open space and top of the veil.

Attach elastic headband to the inside of the dinner tray

At this point you can attach the accent bow to the back of the hat (seen peeking out above). And lastly, put a big glob of glue on the center of the inside tray and attach elastic headband. It’s done! My daughter went *crazy* over it! Especially because she isn’t allowed to touch my grandmother’s hat, much to her dismay. Now she has one of her own.

Now that’s both creative crafting and smart parenting, eh??

Wearing your Recycled Craft Pillbox Hat

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About the author

Founder and CEO of Woo! Jr. Kids Activities, Wendy loves creating crafts, activities and printables that help teachers educate and give parents creative ways to spend time with their children.

View all articles by Wendy Piersall


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