10 top tips for those new to millinery

Whether you’re completely new to millinery or still mastering the basics we want to help make the process as enjoyable as possible and give you some top tips to help guide you on your journey. We’ll explain some of the language used and talk you through our top ten tips for millinery.

Blocking

So let’s first start off with an explanation of what blocking is. Blocking is the process of shaping material onto a mould to form the body of a hat. The moulds used are called blocks which is where the term blocking comes from. Traditional hat blocks were made out of wood but can now be made out of a range of materials.

1. Cover blocks in cling film or plain plastic bags to help protect them before use – this is especially important when you will be stiffening your fabric once it has been blocked.
2. Soften Sinamay by soaking or alternatively by spraying it with water to make it damp and pliable prior to attempting to use it for blocking.
3. For felt hoods dampen the inside of the felt using a fine mist spray bottle prior to steaming to help over steaming your felt.

Using Stiffeners

Depending on the style of hat you are making you will either want to stiffen your fabric before or after blocking. Below are a couple of tips to help you correctly stiffen your fabric.

4. For felt hoods dampen the inside of the felt using a fine mist spray bottle prior to steaming to help over steaming your felt.
5. Water based stiffeners should be applied with the following ratios: Sinamay 1:3 or 1:4 depending on weave and Felt 1:8.
6. For solvent based stiffeners always make sure you ventilate your working area properly. Felt stiffener creates a matt look when used on straw while straw stiffener will give a glossy finish. A damp cloth and hot iron can help show you how much a fabric has been pre-stiffened, helpful if you’re unsure.

Adding Structure

Depending on the type of hat you are looking to create you may need to add additional structure to help give the hat the shape you want. There are many ways to add structure and our top tips are below:

7. Use strips of crinoline or corset boning inside your fabric to help give them more structure.
8. Millinery wire is perfect for adding extra strength and structure. Just remember that the higher the gauge number the thinner the wire is.

Dyeing

If you’re looking to create a hat in a colour of your choosing then you may need to dye your material in order to get the colour you’re looking for. There are some simple things to remember when dyeing which are:

9. Acid reactive dyes are used to dye protein based fibres such as silk, wool and feathers.
10. Fibre reactive dyes should be used on cellulose fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon.

So there we have it, ten handy tips to help you out when you’re just beginning your love affair with millinery.