Hat block issues

Sunday, July 3

Ok, so I am officially overly excited about millinery now.

 I am still to take a single lesson, and I am already trying to find hat blocks. Hat blocks are the corner stone of traditional millinery, and any milliner worth his/her salt, would do well to invest in some of these. They can be made from wood, aluminium, plastic, fiber glass or styrofoam ( there are possibly more).

Now I am not pretending to be an expert on this subject, but from the books I've been reading ( and they are alot), it seems wooden hat blocks are the best. However, they also the most expensive of all hat blocks.  So for someone starting out, that will definitely be a major investment. One which I am not prepared to make at this juncture.

Having decided to make my own hatblock (crazy right?), I started scouring the internet for ideas. I found a very helpful site called Hatstruck . The lady who blogs there, Lee, is so talented and so generous with her knowledge. She makes some of her own blocks, and uses even woden bowls as blocks. Wooden bowls? Oh yes! you read right. Wooden bowls. Ever since I read that on her post, I have been looking at every piece of wooden bowl I see with added interest. Analysing its shape and trying to see a hat in those bowls. I think I'm definitetly going crazy, but when your pockets are as threadbare as mine are, improvise, you shall!!.

She even did a tutorial on how to make your own hat blocks using styrofoam and then coating it with wood filler. Genius non? I shall be trying that one soon. ohh boy....filling quite giddy now...

I also fell accross another method to make your own hat blocks, on Threadbanger. Yes, trusty old Threadbanger. With this one, you use expanding foam. So basically, you take an old hat that you want to copy, spray it with sizing ( for us UK peeps, its fabric stiffener.), let it dry, spray some cooking spray, then use the expanding foam. At the end, you'll have a hat block which can be sanded and carved and I hope drilled too. You can watch the video here. I have already ordered stuff to try this one out at home. Though finding the right stiffener here in the UK is proving quite tricky. Apparently, the best stiffener to use would be gelatin stiffener. But I can't find it. Does anyone have any idea on where to get this?

So there, if you, like me, don't have the wonga to purchase hat blocks, you should try making yours at home. It does not repalce the need for professionally made ones though, but as an amateur, investing over 100 bucks for a hatblock is not what I would do.

Plus if I find these don't work, I will have to rely on my father-in-law to make one for me. His hobby is wood turning ( how lucky am I?), so I am hoping hat blocks will be easy peesy for him.

If you are daunted by the idea of using a hat block, there are so many tutorials and books out there that will teach you how to make hats, but I think that merits its own post, so a roundup of tutorials will be coming along soon. Watch this space.

For those of you who can't wait, I found an interesting hat making tutorial on Threadbanger. This tutorial teaches you how to make a pill box hat from felt. oh goody!! Very Jackie O if you ask me.

Is anyone else into hat making? Do you have any advice for me, or any tips? or would you like to know more about hat making? Would any one be interested in a sew along for a hat? Please leave a comment if you are interested, or have some knowledge to share.

many thanks and have a nice sunday




  1. Thank you so much for posting Hatstruck - what a great site. And best of luck on your hat journey. I studied for four days with Rose Cory in London and felt I learned so much with her.

  2. OHHHHH I would do a hat-along! Not that I know anything about how to do it, but that's cool!

  3. I love the posts about hatmaking and thanks for the links. I must try and make my own hat block because all the ones I've seen are antique ones and they are really expensive. A hat sewalong would be great.

  4. Hi Dibs, fantastic blog. Regarding the sizing being used to make the block here, it's millinery sizing--a type of lacquer. Fabric sizing is more of a starch, and this should not be used. If you can find spray shellac in a hardware store, purchase it. It's half the price (don't purchase the lacquer). Shellac is much less toxic than millinery sizing and lacquer.

    I have to dash off to get something before the stores close. I'll visit you again.

  5. i will just wait you to do amazing creatinos and wear them ! xx

  6. Good luck in making your hat block. I think this is a wise idea when you are just starting out.

    Although I really love hats I'm not sure I want to start creating them yet. That's not to say I won't in the future but I still have so many other things to perfect first ;D

  7. You really go for it when you get an idea don't you?! I love your enthusiasm and can't wait to see the hats!

  8. I'm interested in hat making but know very little about I'm loving your exploration of this...keep the posts coming!

  9. I could have written the beginning of your blog myself. I am about to dive into the world of millinery, and like you have no extra funds to spend on my newest interest. That's how I found you--searched for 'how to make a hat block'.
    Isn't Hatstuck great? I think I'm going to try her method. We have the same issue (big head-itus), so not only are the blocks expensive, I would have to basically, have one custon made to fit my head. More expense....
    Good luck on your journey!

  10. I would love to make a fedora hat for my American girl doll. How to you go about doing that if you have to have a hat to make a hat block out of strofoam.