How To Take Your Millinery Skills Up A Notch

Sewing machine

Whether you are just discovering millinery or have already mastered the basics and are looking for a new challenge, there is always something you can learn in the world of millinery. While hat styles and designs have evolved, many of the fundamental techniques have remained the same. If you want to take the next step on your millinery journey then we have a range of courses that will help you learn the skills you need to tackle any size millinery project.

Fabric blocking
Anyone who is looking to move away from the use of pre-made hat bodies and kits is going to need to learn to block their own fabric. From learning about stiffening fabrics prior to blocking to understanding what fabrics work with different types of blocks, there are plenty of skills to learn when it comes to blocking fabric. Blocking is an essential part of the hat making process and will help take your millinery skills to the next level.

Our millinery blocking course is designed to help you learn everything you need to know about fabric blocking.

Using acid dyes
Want to create the perfect hat to match your next outfit? Learning the essentials of dyeing will help you customise the look of your millinery fabrics and accessories and add a splash of colour whenever you need it. At Parkin Fabrics our one-day dyeing techniques course lets you experiment with different dyes and learn the techniques you need to create different effects for all your millinery projects.

Silk flower making
Silk flowers provide a great way to decorate your hat and are a more striking alternative to feathers and Sinamay trimmings. While it is possible to buy silk flowers ready-made, part of the fun of millinery is creating something completely from scratch. Creating your own silk flowers is a fun and rewarding pursuit and at Parkin Fabrics we can help you do just that with our instructor-led one day course.

Bias brimmed hat
Summer and spring hats are often made from Sinamay using a bias strip to create the hat brim and centrepiece. These lightweight hats are incredibly versatile and can feature a small or wide brim, depending on the style you are looking to emulate. To create a bias brimmed hat you’ll need to know about blocking, wiring and trimming. Our bias brimmed hat course will teach you everything you need to know to create your very own bias brimmed headpiece.

Working with felt
While many millinery courses focus on the basics of blocking felt our Fun with Felt course teaches you how to manipulate felt while blocking to create a different look and style. From vintage-style headpieces to cloche and button styles, you’ll learn the skills you need and gain an understanding of how felt can be manipulated to create different looks.

Join us in our Oldham workshop and learn a new skill to add to your millinery bow.

How to care for your hat or fascinator

Whether you’re into making your own hats or just love wearing hats, learning to take care of your hats properly will help to keep them looking their best for years to come. In this blog, we’ll take a look at ways that you can care for your collection of hats and fascinators and cover topics such as handling, storing, cleaning and repair.


One of the easiest ways to keep your hat in great condition is to make sure that you handle it correctly. And while different hats may have different care instructions handling is one area that is fairly standard across all types of hats. Avoid picking up your hat by the crown and where possible pick it up by the edge of the brim with clean, dry hands.

When placed on your head put it into position by placing your hand on the crown, rather than the brim. For the majority of hats, you should avoid getting them wet as this can cause it to lose its shape. If your hat does get wet then let it dry naturally to help it keep its shape.

Sweatband cleaning

Although you won’t see the sweatband while wearing your hat it is often the most stained part of your hat due to perspiration, makeup and hair products. Luckily the sweatband is simple to clean to help keep your hat smelling fresh. Fabric sweatbands can be folded down and cleaned with a mild clothes detergent and water mixture. Use a soft brush to scrub the surface and blot with a clean damp white cloth to remove stains.

For leather sweatbands, you can use commercial leather cleaning products to remove stains and odours and fold down in the same way as you would a fabric sweatband to clean. Leave to dry naturally while still folded down and once dry use a leather conditioner to keep it supple.

Hat exterior cleaning

The most visual part of your hat the exterior should be cleaned frequently to help stop the build-up of dirt and dust. Use a soft bristle brush or lint roller to remove dirt, dust and lint and work around the hat slowly following the nap of the fabric. For delicate trim like feathers, ribbons and flowers you can use a hair dryer on a low cool setting to blow away dust. Sticky tape can also be helpful for removing dust and lint from your hat.

Dented crown repair

One of the simplest ways to remove a dent in the crown of a hat is to hold the hat over the steam from a kettle for a few seconds. The steam should help soften the material and let you simply push out the dent or crease in the material. Once the dent has disappeared you can simply let the hat dry out and the dent should have disappeared.

Feather repair

Droopy feathers can be resurrected by placing over steam for a couple of seconds, while broken feathers can be mended with a touch of PVA added to the broken section of stem. Bent feathers can be straightened with hair straighteners on their lowest setting when used on the stem. Feathers which have gone past the point of repair can be removed and replaced from most hats by pinching out of the glue if this fails you can always snip them off at the base.

Storing your hats and fascinators

For short and long-term storage of hats and fascinators, it really is hard to look past a decent set of hat boxes. Not only do they help to keep your hat free from dust and dirt, but they also help protect the colour from bleaching in the sun. Hats should be stored upside down on their crown or supported on a bed of tissue paper so the weight is not placed on the brim. Feathers, flowers and veils should also be propped up using tissue paper to make sure they keep their shape.

5 tips for picking the perfect mother of the bride hat

For any mum, the wedding of a daughter is one of the happiest days of their life. Watching as your child says their vows and gets ready to enjoy the rest of their life with the man of their dreams. But there are a couple of things that can fill the mother of the bride with dread and these are finding the right outfit and hat combination. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help making or picking the right hat as simple as saying “I do”.

Colours and patterns

It may be tempting to choose a hat, outfit, shoes and bag that are all colour matched but this look can be too much and cause your outfit to become bland. Instead, why not pick an accent colour from your dress and style your hat to match this instead of the main outfit colour. Bold hat colours tend to work well when contrasted with neutral dress colours and also mean you have more freedom for matching accessories.

If you’ve chosen a statement dress then you should go for a plain hat, while statement hats should be paired with plain dresses. Another thing to check is that your hat works with your skin tone and hair colour, after all, you don’t want to clash.

Hat styles

There are so many different hats and fascinators available that the choice can often be overwhelming. While there are plenty of guides that tell you certain styles and shapes are suited to different face types, you should never discount a hat before you’ve tried it on. Nothing beats trying on plenty of different styles to see which ones you like so head to a decent millinery shop to start having fun.

Think of the photos

As the mother of the bride, you will be in plenty of the wedding photos and will also be meeting and greeting all of the wedding guests. With this in mind, you should pick a hat that doesn’t hide your facial features or cast shadows across your face.

Consider the venue

If the wedding is going to be outside on a beach then you may want to stay clear of hats that will easily be blown away. Practicalities are important, as you’ll be wearing your hat all day so it needs to be comfortable, well-fitted and light to wear.

Finally – find something that you like

Stick to your own style when it comes time to pick a hat for a wedding. Just because you have seen other hats worn by friends and other mums doesn’t mean that they are right for you. Stick to what you know and love for your outfit and choose a hat that you are comfortable with and that you like. And remember all eyes will be on your daughter so you are free to have fun and enjoy the day while looking your fabulous best.

Picking the perfect headwear for your day at the races

From the Grand National to the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot, race season is about to begin in earnest so it’s time to start planning your race day attire. For ladies, this is your chance to style up your best outfit and get creative with your choice of hat. In this blog, we’ll give you some tips for picking or creating the perfect headwear for your day at the races.

Outfit choice

At most races there is a dress code to follow with smart and stylish being the order of choice, events such as Royal Ascot take it a step further so it is always worth checking out the dress code to make sure your outfit choice matches up. The races are an exciting day out so our advice would be to dress to impress.

Face Shape

Just like different dress cuts suit different body shapes, different hat styles will work best with certain face shapes. Oval face shapes can get away with almost any style or shape of hat but if choosing a large brimmed hat this should be tilted back slightly so it frames your face. Square face shapes can use feathers, veiling and rounded shaped hats to help soften your features.

Asymmetrical shapes and brims tend to suit all face types and are a very flattering choice. Those with long faces should consider a side beret, fascinator or headpiece that can be worn to the side. For those who wear glasses, an upturned brim style won’t get in the way.

(Epsom Derby 2017)

Hairstyle and placement

One of the best ways to sport a hat is with your hair up as this will help accentuate the femininity of the wearer’s neck. Small headpieces should rest above the eyebrow rather than being balanced on the top of your head. Brims should rest at least a thumbs width above your eyebrow.

How it fits

You may have found the hat of your dreams but if it doesn’t fit properly then you will end up being uncomfortable and will likely end up hating it. Whether you are buying a hat off the shelf, having one made for you or are making it yourself, make sure that you get the fit right. After all, you’ll be wearing your hat for hours on the day of the races and you don’t want to be fiddling and fidgeting with it all day.


Bright colours will help you stand out and get attention and make sure your hat is the centre of attention. Choose a bright colour to stand out against darker tones of your outfit for a winning combination that will help you look the part. Patterns offer another way to add some brightness and colour to your dress and headwear. Botanical leafy patterns and flower prints are both popular choices at the races.

Be unique

Just like your outfit choice you’ll want your hat or fascinator to be unique. Taking the time to make your own fascinator or hat will ensure that you create something that is completely unique, helping you to stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing worse than turning up to the races and seeing lots of other women wearing the exact same dress and hat. So make sure yours is unique.

What you need to know about the Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding 2018 - Engagement

On the 19th of May, the whole world and the media will be watching Windsor Castle as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot. The happy couple have already promised a day that is focused on fun, joy and the chance to celebrate with the public and we expect that their wedding will reflect the characters of the bride and groom. But what styles will be a fashion hit for this special occasion?

The wedding dress

As you’d expect the details of the dress are being kept a closely guarded secret. Some of the designers that seem to be in contention for the commission include Erdem, Antonio Berardi, Marchesa, Misha Nonoo while the firm favourite at the moment appears to be the Australian couple Ralph & Russo who designed Markle’s engagement gown. Whether Miss Markle decides to go for something traditional or brave and daring remains to be seen and is already causing lots of excited discussion.

Past Royal Weddings

Past Royal weddings (Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Princess Diana, Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge)

The flowers

London florist Philippa Craddock has been chosen to design the wedding flowers which will follow a natural wildflower theme. Flowers will be locally sourced from the gardens of the Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park. Peonies will be incorporated into the arrangements as they are Miss Markle’s favourite flower. Pollinator-friendly plants will be chosen as well as flowers that are naturally blooming in May.

The cake

Pastry chef Claire Ptak who is the owner of a London-based bakery Violet Cakes has been chosen to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright colours of spring and it will be covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. The cake is a break from the traditional fruit cake and is just one of the ways that the couple are adding their own unique touch to their wedding.

Royal titles

Tradition dictates that male members of the Royal family receive a title from the monarch on their wedding day and the vacant title of Duke of Sussex is the most likely choice for Prince Harry. Miss Markle will also become an HRH and a senior royal and will likely become The Duchess of Sussex.


With the ladies dress code making hats compulsory, there will be plenty of wonderful outfit and hat combinations on show at the Royal Wedding. Expect the works of top milliners such as Rachel Trevor-Morgan, milliner to the Queen, Beverley Edmonson, Laura Apsit Livens and Noel Stewart to feature prominently with the Royal family and guests alike.

royal wedding hats

Some of the hats worn at the last major Royal wedding in 2011

So what styles of hat are likely to be popular? With peonies likely to feature heavily in the wedding flowers on the day and plenty of other spring flowers decorating the venue, you can expect floral detailing to be a popular.

Pillbox hats provide the perfect base for plenty of decorative flourishes. The classic side sweep hat may also prove to be a popular choice with attendants at the Royal Wedding. With plenty of uniforms on display, we’re also likely to see plenty of hats chosen to match the outfits of partners.