Hats and tailoring

Making hats has been an easy transition using my tailoring skills and tools I already own.

Take this basic straw hat for example. I was able to shape the brim with my Prym ham and a steam iron.

The finger guard has been useful to ensure my fingers don’t wear out with all the hand stitching involved.

The internal Petersham tape is hand sewn inside the hat so it keeps it’s size and shape.
These Prym Love pins were easy to use and didn’t tear into the straw.
Straw can tear quite easily if you’re not careful.

As you can see, I used my previous hat as reference to ensure I was able to use the right stitches for each step of the process. Lots of waxed threads were used.

Both hats have hat wire along the brim so they keep their shape.

January was when I blocked this black felt hat at Catherine’s studio in Rozelle.

 I love the fedora crown shape

The brim was stretched out as far a possible so I had lots of brim width options.

 Then Catherine suggested I use this zipper edged trim. This trim suits my sewing addiction.

I finished the brim edge with a 25mm petersham tape. 

I was able to find a petersham tape colour at EM Greenfields for the straw hat. I bought the straw hat and crown trim from Catherine.

Remember that you get a 10% discount when you purchase any Prym product from Minerva Crafts website using this discount code ‘MARIA’.

I like that I now have two urban hats that fit my head. Cheers.

‘Black Friday’ hat

I had some free work time to use and so I spent the day at Catherine’s studio to set up my new urban hat.

The day was blisteringly hot. 40C and humid. Singapore weather. Catherine’s studio had a fan and I needed to steam my hat into shape. 

Once everyone returns to work later this month, I won’t be able to choose my days off so this was my best opportunity to get my urban hat prepared.

The crown gets wrapped in plastic before you shape the felt base onto the crown shape.

What you see here is the steamed crown into its shape. The green pins at the base of the crown indicate the depth of the hat and includes seam allowance.

We did a second check of how deep the hat should be and then I very, very carefully cut the brim off.

The steamer Catherine uses is designed specifically for this process. She’s a professional and now that I’ve been to her workshop she’s happy to enable my hat adventures using her equipment.

See the puckering and gathers around the crown, 

We did another check and realised I was using a 22″ brim base. My noggin is 24″. I quickly found the 24″ brim base and I was able to make the brim fit!

With the 24″ brim base, the puckers disappeared (head slap moment over) and I was then able to create a wider and even brim base.

Here’s a look at the tiny hand operated sewing machine Catherine has in her collection. I think it’s a buttonholer.

The crown and brim have now been set and are drying as we speak.

In the time I had left, I cut out some flowers and used the burner and flower tools to create future flowers.

Here’s Catherine demonstrating the flower making process from last month’s workshop.

My ‘Black Friday’ hat will be finished but I need another full day for all the hand stitching.

Summer is still fierce so before I left Catherine’ studio I bought a straw hat base that fit me so I’ll show you how this new Summer hat comes together. That’s another 4 hours of hand stitching. Hopefully when I pick up my Black Friday hat, I’ll set the crown into an angular style.

All the sewing techniques make hat making achievable and I’ll show you the tools I’ve recently been using so you can see how sewing skills can be used in other craft areas.



I got to attend a 6 week local millinery course and the experience was great.

Hats designed by Catherine Kelley Embellish Atelier

Buying bike helmets proved I have a big noggin (head). 

Gerrie’s hat is made specifically for an outfit she loves.

Commercially made hats are made 22″ standard circumference. My noggin is 24″.

These are my WIP pieces in my noggin size.

Sydney Community College offered a decent discount for the millinery course I just completed.

Sue’s an unassuming millinery master.

I didn’t realise the discount was because the 8 week course was only available for 6 weeks.

Fascinator wip using sinamay – to be completed. 

There were lots of techniques we learned from Catherine Kelly. Her encouragement and knowledge pushed us and it paid off.

Fedora wip after sewing on petersham tape to the brim and inside the crown.

Hey. I made the most of the 6 lessons we had.

Almost finished with a classic side bow

Marjorie’s hatmaking posts on instagram got my millinery interest and recently Anne Whalley suggested I should make a hat to add ‘drama’ to my style so it was inevitable that one day I would learn to make hats from one of the best. 

Complete with feathers and self-made flowers

PS, I’m not at all into drama.

This stage was exciting – both crown and brim fit my noggin! No drama:)

Catherine Kelly of Embellish Atelier was our tutor and we got the opportunity to work in Catherine’s own studio for a couple of classes.

These are a selection of hat crowns and brims Catherine uses.

Catherine offers her own workshops so I may sneak into one of her classes next year for an urban Autumn hat.

The black felt will be my future urban Autumn hat.

Catherine’s work is amazing, inspiring and her hats win lots of prizes at the races.  

Just some of Catherine’s designs.

It would be fabulous to work in her studio again and get inspired all over again. Her studio is so stylish.

This has been a great year for learning new skills.

Once I finish the fascinator/s, I’ll show you how they turn out. More importantly, I have a hat that fits my noggin.