Minnie mouse ears are all the rage at Disney parks and it seems like each new ear design is instantly snapped up. But what if you don’t want to shell out for the hefty price tag? Or, if you’re like me and want something designed a little differently? Well you can always make your own.
DIY Minnie ears don’t require a ton of crafting skill, but you should know how to cut fabric and use a glue gun at the minimum. I sewed mine, so being able to do a basic straight stitch on a sewing machine (or by hand if you’re into that) is a bonus, but you could potentially glue gun the seams if you can’t sew. I set out to make my own Minnie ears because I wanted some for my beloved Hoop Dee Doo Revue and there just isn’t a lot of merch out there for that. I custom ordered my fabric for $14 so my costs may be a little higher than yours would be buying something off of a bolt at a fabric store, but even with that my total cost was under $20 (I already had the stuffing left over from a crochet project earlier this year) and I spent about 2 hours putting them together.
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What you need for DIY Minnie Mouse ears:
- Plastic headband – ideally somewhere 3/4-1 inch wide
- 1/4 yard fabric (more if you want to use multiple colors)
- Matching thread (if you plan to sew the ears)
- Fiber fill stuffing
- Plastic canvas (or cardboard if you can’t find any)
- Coordinating felt
- Glue gun
- Hot glue sticks
- Sewing machine (optional but highly recommended)
- Marker or fabric chalk
- Tape measure
- Scrap cardboard or poster board
- Compass, string, or bowl for drawing circles
How to make Minnie Mouse ears
Step 1 – Make your ears template
I used an empty cereal box to make my ear template and a handy Ikea cereal bowl to trace the perfect circle. I based my measurements off of an existing pair of ears, which are approximately 4.5 inches in diameter, plus an extra inch for seam allowance. Yours don’t have to match this exactly, but you’ll want to stay close to this or they’ll look a little off. I was lucky and happened to have the perfect bowl in my cupboard – the rim of the bowl was the right diameter for my ear template and the bottom was exactly what I needed for the inner plastic canvas lining. If a perfectly-sized bowl or glass doesn’t appear right before your eyes, you can use an old school compass or tie a string around your marker leaving the tail the length of your desired radius and hold that in the center while you draw around it. If all else fails, you can always freehand it, but I’m pretty terrible at drawing anything.
Once you have your circle, draw two parallel lines coming out of one side about an inch and a half apart and 3/4 inch long. Connect the bottoms. Your template should now look like a really precariously balanced snowglobe. The extra little bit is so you can easily tuck in the fabric after you’re done sewing or gluing.
Step 2 – Cut your ear supports out (optional)
I wanted to give my ears a little more stability so I cut slightly smaller templates out of plastic canvas. You could also use cardboard for this in a pinch, but the canvas is cheap and will definitely be more durable. You want the diameter of these to be about an inch less than the fabric template. I didn’t make a template for these and just traced my bowl right onto the plastic canvas and adjusted my cut. You could also probably skip this if you’re really in a hurry, but having something inside gives the ears more support.
After you have your circle, hand draw (or use part of the bowl as a template) a little curved arc inside each one. This will be where the ears meet the headband so this notch will allow them to have more contact and stability with the band.
Once you’re satisfied, cut the circles out and set them aside.
Step 3 – Cut your headband fabric
If you love the way your plain headband looks and/or it works well with the fabric you picked out, you can skip this step, but mine was pretty plain and ugly so I definitely wanted it covered up. Because I’m over the top, I used different fabric prints for each ear, the bow, and wrapping the band, but there’s no reason you couldn’t make the headband the same fabric as the ears. The only time I wouldn’t recommend this is if you’re using sequin fabric or something else with a lot of texture for the ears. I have a tenuous relationship with headbands on any day, but having sequins digging into my head just sounds miserable. Thick ribbon could also be a substitute here.
Measure the width of your headband at its widest point. Then place the end of the tape measure at one of the ends of the headband (the part that goes behind your ear) and bring it up over the top of the arch to the other end. Add two inches to this measurement.
Cut a strip of your headband wrapping fabric in a long rectangle. You want the width of the rectangle to be just under double the width of your headband. ie. my headband was 1-inch wide, so my fabric strip was 1.75 inches wide. The long side of your rectangle should be the measurement of the total arch of your headband plus two inches.
Step 4 – Cut your ear fabric
Lay out your ear fabric on a flat surface. I like to use a cutting mat like this, but if you’re not a regular crafter it’s probably not worth the investment. You’ll need a total of four pieces (two for each ear). If you fold your fabric in half, you can save a bit of time and only have to trace/cut two out. I did mine separately because I was trying to get the plaids I was working with to line up as closely as possible, so I moved the templates around.
Trace your templates and then cut out your fabric. Set it aside with the ear liners.
Step 5 – Wrap your headband
Take the rectangle of fabric from Step 3 and fold it in half the long way to find the middle. Put some hot glue on the very center of your headband (for the top of your head) and press the back side of the center of the fabric into it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight, but if it’s too crooked you’ll run into problems later on.
Working toward the ends, place another dab of hot glue about half an inch away and press the fabric onto it. keep going in this fashion all the way to both ends. Try to keep your fabric as smooth as possible on the outside because this will be visible when you’re wearing the ears. As you get toward the ends, most headbands will narrow, so you’ll end up with excess fabric we’ll have to trim off later.
Once you’ve glued the whole outside of the headband liner, start on the inside. This was the most frustrating part for me because I really could’ve used a third hand, but it’s doable. This is a great time to ask a friend for help, but you can definitely do it alone.
Start in the center of the band again and put a dab of hot glue on the inside (the part that will be touching your head when it’s worn). Fold the loose edge of one side of the fabric over and press it into the glue. Continue doing this toward the ends until they narrow to the point that the fabric is too wide. Trim both edges of the fabric on an angle, leaving enough for it to be tucked under on both sides. Continue gluing until you reach both ends. Once you’ve finished with one edge of the fabric, repeat the process with the other side, folding it over on top of the first edge.
You’ll now have little tubes of fabric sticking out about an inch from each end of the headband. Trim them a little if they seem too long, but you want to have a little bit of excess fabric to tuck in/provide a little extra cushion. Roll them to hide the fabric’s rough edges and then fold them upward toward the inside of the band. Secure with hot glue.
Step 6 – Line the headband
I cut a strip from a cheap sheet of red felt (pick a color that coordinates with your ears) to glue onto the inside of my ears. I thought about skipping this step, but I wanted to hide all the rough edges of the fabric. Plus the felt helped the headband stay in place a bit better.
Cut a strip the length of your headband measurement from Step 3. For mine, I had to go corner to corner across the felt sheet diagonally. Your strip should be slightly narrower than the width of your headband.
Fold the strip in half to find the center and put a dab of hot glue in the middle of the inside of your headband. Press them together. Once the glue is secure, work your way down one side, adding the hot glue and inch at a time, until you reach the end. Then repeat the process for the other side.
If your headband narrows at the ends like mine, your felt will be sticking out slightly. Use scissors to carefully trip the edges until they fit correctly.
Step 7 – Sew ears together
Alright, we’re on the home stretch now, friends. Take two of your ear fabric circles and line them up with the right sides together. (This means you want the sides of the fabric that you want visible touching in the middle and the reverse side facing out. I did not pin mine together before sewing because my fabric wasn’t particularly slippery, but if you’re using something more satin-y, you may want to pop a couple of pins in to hold them together.
Beginning at the flap, sew or glue around the edge of the circle until you reach the other end of the flap leaving a seam allowance. Standard seam allowance is 5/8 in, but I thought the size was just a touch small so I used a narrower seam. Do what feels right, but I wouldn’t go any narrower than 3/8 in.
Note: You can accomplish the same thing with a hot glue gun if you don’t have access to a sewing machine, but I think the results are better with a needle and thread.
Repeat this for your other ear and then flip them both right-side out.
Step 8 – Assemble the ears
Take one of your ear supports and wrap the edges in so they’re rolled into a little tube. Slide it into one of the ears and let it pop back open once it’s inside. Adjust it as necessary to lay flat with the seams. If you cut it too big, you can always pull it back out for a trip and then reinsert it. It should look a little bit like a balloon now.
Using the cotton batting, lightly stuff the ears. Be sure to put some bunches of fluff on both sides of the supports so one doesn’t end up flat. You don’t want to over-stuff them and make them too poofy, but you do want a little bit of depth to them.
Once the ear is stuffed to your satisfaction, fold one side of the flap over and use a dab of hot glue to secure it. Then fold the other side of the flap over it and fasten it with a line of hot glue.
Repeat for the other ear.
Step 9 – Assemble the headband
This step is relatively easy, but you’ll want to make sure you position your ears right. Too low or too high and you’ll look a little off. There are several ways to do this.
- If you have an “official” pair of mouse ears, you can use those as a template and place your ears in the same spot. (This is the way I did it.)
- Put your headband on and hold the ears up to it in front of a mirror so you can gauge what looks right. You can use a light pencil or white chalk to mark where they should go. (A partner to do the holding or marking here would be helpful.)
- Measure or guesstimate the center of your headband and measure 1.25 inches to each side. This is roughly where the inner edge of your ears should start, though it will vary by headband and how large you cut your ears.
Once you’ve decided on placement, put a thick line of hot glue on the now-sealed flap of your first ear and press it onto the headband. Hold it for a minute to make sure it dries. Repeat for the second ear.
Step 10 – Start your bow (optional)
Using a ruler or cutting mat, trace a 3 in x 6 in rectangle on the back of your bow fabric. Then trace a 10 in x 14 in rectangle separately. This doesn’t have to be exact, but if you go much bigger on the bow it’ll be too floppy or poofy (or both). Cut out your rectangles.
Fold the smaller rectangle lengthwise (hot dog style for those of us who are still overgrown kids) so that the right sides touch each other. Sew a seam down the long side, leaving approximately 1/2 in seam allowance. Don’t close off the ends. Flip this right-side out. It’ll be a little bit difficult but it’ll work if you go slowly. Using a safety pin to pull it can also help, but be careful not to tear your fabric. Once it’s right-side out, flatten it so that the seam is in the middle of one side and iron it flat. Set it aside.
Take your larger rectangle and fold it the same way you did the smaller one (lengthwise/hotdog style). Sew down the long edge, leaving a 1/2 in seam allowance. When you get to the end, turn and stitch along the bottom until you reach the center fold. On the top edge, start at the center fold and sew across, stopping around 2 inches from the first seam you made. Flip your fabric right side out and flatten it so that the long side seam is in the center. Iron the edges and seam flat.
If you want to close the hole left from turning it right-side out, you can glue it shut, but the headband and center of the bow will hide it.
Step 11 – Assemble the bow (optional)
Take your larger bow rectangle and fold it like an accordion, pinching it at the center. I’m not going to lie – this took me a lot of tries to get right (partially because of the striped print of the fabric), so don’t be afraid to redo it until you’re happy with how it looks. Once you get it positioned the way you want it, carefully dab a bit of hot glue between each pleat on the front side. Pinch it together for a minute so it cools. Then flip it over and put a dab of hot glue between each of the pleats on the back side. Once again wait for it to cool.
Use a few dabs of hot glue to attach one end of your smaller rectangle to the bottom of the bow with the center seam touching the fabric. This will be the “tie” that holds it together. Pull it up and around the front, over the top, and back down to the bottom. Place a line of hot glue on the bow, as far toward the back as you can. Press the tie onto it and then trim any excess.
Once assembled, hot glue your bow to the headband between your ears. It looks best if you position it in the center, as far toward the front of the band as possible. I wanted to stretch mine out a bit, so I also put tiny dots of hot glue on the bottom corners of the bow and attached them to the headband and attached the top corners to the ears.
Step 12 – Add any other flair (optional)
You can definitely be done at this stage, but if you have any other decorations – I’ve seen some incredibly elaborate sets of ears out there! – that you want to attach, now’s the time to let your creative juices flow.
How did it go? I’d love it if you tagged me in any photos of the DIY Minnie ears you create! I can’t wait to see what you come up with and I’m excited for whatever design pops into my head for my next pair.
You can make these ears in just about any color combination or theme that you want. Here are a few ideas:
- Your favorite Disney character
- Your favorite park ride
- Holiday patterns or colors
- Matching ears for a group trip
- Bride and bridesmaid colored ears for a bachelorette trip
- Your favorite sports team