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:


  1. Incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great to see the whole sequence of blocking.

    1. My pleasure. It's such a fun thing to see so feel free to share it because most people are so surprised the first time they see the process. I know I was!

  3. Thanks for sharing, it only wet my palate for learning the art of hat making!!


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