Monday, September 5, 2011

Blocking a Hat

1.  Part of my collection of hat blocks.  Every hat I make is blocked (shaped) on a hat block.
2.  This is how the felt starts out, in un-shaped blanks,  sort of a cone shape. You can see there is a variety of colors and textures available.

3.  These are some straw blanks.  Also lots of colors and textures.

4.  This yellow felt is about to get steamed  (see the electric cord sticking out from under the felt).  Steam makes felt and straw soft, pliable and ready to pull over the hat block I chose.  Here I am blocking on a favorite Vintage block that comes in 5 pieces, called a puzzle block.  This allows the block to be removed from the hat in pieces without ruining its shape.
5.  Working fast, (yes, it's hot!)  I  take the steamed felt and pull it down over the hat block, making sure to do this evenly and quickly before the hat cools off and sets.  It is important to get the felt smooth and have no wrinkles or bumps.  It's my favorite part of making a hat.
6.  I rope off the first line on the hat.  This gives the shape its crispness and forms the headsize.

7.  I have roped off the second line and now this hat is blocked.  It's not too hard to block this style in felt but not every hat is this easy.  I brush the felt at this point to give it a nice finish and then let it dry.

8.  In nice weather, it gets to dry in my backyard. 

9.  The dry felt is now ready to come off the block.

10.  Here I have removed the first center piece of the block which is the base of the block and holds the puzzle together. There are four remaining pieces.

11.  Bad shot, but two more pieces have been removed, and now only two side pieces are left to take out. (5 pieces altogether)

12.  Here is the blocked felt off the block, and able to hold its shape beautifully.

13.  Trim off the excess.  The leftovers are called "roundings" and used for trim.

14.  And voila! A blocked felt.

15.  Turn the collar under.
16.  Smooth it out and it is ready for the headsize ribbon which is hand sewn inside each hat.  This hat is not getting a wire but if it was, this is when I would put it in.
17.  The grosgrain ribbon for the inside also needs to be shaped.  This is called swirling the ribbon.

18.  Use the iron to swirl the ribbon into an arc.  This is done so the ribbon fits the hat perfectly.
19. Sewing the headsize ribbon in by hand.  The stitches should be virtually invisible.
20.  After it is nearly sewn all around, finish the end of the ribbon by turning it under and sewing the last few stitches.
21. The blocked hat is ready for trim but is beautiful and sophisticated enough to be worn un-adorned.
The End.

You can see this hat and the rest of the collection here:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Keep a Cocktail Hat on Your head

There are many ways to keep a hat on your head.  Many people use an elastic band but that's not the only way to go.  Here is an easy little technique of my own to keep your cocktail hat on your head:

Place the hat on your head, exactly where you want it, hopefully on a jaunty angle.  On the top of your head, feel where the hat makes contact with your head. Put your finger right there because that is where you want the hat pin to go.  Move your finger away ( but remember the spot!) and take off the hat.  Now make a tiny little ponytail at that exact spot with, of all things, tiny rubber bands.  Use two at a time for back-up. Pull the rubber bands close to your head.  Now put the hat back on.  Feel for the little bump of ponytail on the outside of the hat which should be in the exact same place you had your finger before.  Take your hat pin, and pin right through the hat, through the center of the ponytail as close to your head as possible (grabbing hair, not head - don't poke yourself )  and back out through the hat again.  You may have to try this a few times (or maybe not, it's quite easy to do)  but when you get it,  the hat won't budge.

If you don't have tiny rubber bands, or a niece who wears braces, you can make an X with bobby pins in place of the ponytail and put your hat pin right through that for the same great hold.

The headsize ribbon in another great place to anchor your hat.  Slide bobby pin under the ribbon and pick up hair along the way.  You can use as many bobby pins as you want but two pins and a hat pin should keep of most hats.

Enter the shop here to see my collection of fine hats for women: TheMillineryShop

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Measure Your Head for a Hat and Determine Your Headsize

Every woman can wear a hat. Most are drawn to them and can't really resist trying one on. Yet from time to time I'll hear "Oh, I love these hats!  I wish I could wear one but I just don't look good in hats!"

Well, here's the good news. You can wear a hat. And look amazing in it.  After you know your headsize, you can find the right hat, and wear it correctly. It all starts with measuring your head and knowing your headsize.

It's really quite simple, all you need is a tape-measure and well, your head .  At eyebrow level, wrap the tape around your head pulling only enough to hold it in place.  Eyebrow level is about where your hat would sit.

  •  Do not pull tightly on the measuring tape. It should be snug, but comfortable, just like you want your  hat to be.
  • Do not include your ears even though you will always tuck them in to your hat if needed. 
  • Measure twice.  Seriously, you'd be amazed at the different results you can get until you get it right. 

The average head size for a woman is 22 1/2 inches.  This can vary greatly from woman to woman and can be as small as 21 or as large as 25.  Big hair will bump you up a bit as will a ponytail.  I am happy to say that I have not found any correlation between head size and intelligence.

Hat Measuring Chart

US 6 58 6 34 6 78 7 7 18 7 14 7 38 7 12 7 58 7 34 7 78 8
UK 6 12 6 58 6 34 6 78 7 7 18 7 14 7 38 7 12 7 58 7 34 7 78
CM 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64
Inches 20 34 21 14 21 58 22 22 12 22 34 23 14 23 58 24 24 12 24 34 25 14

Do take your measurement twice, the second time being "for good measure."  No explanation needed there.  Do remember your headsize, especially if it is not average, so that you can find the right hat  and style for you.
And don't forget, we all wear different sizes for clothing and shoes.  Why would a hat be any different?

Enter the shop here to see my collection of fine hats for women: TheMillineryShop