Making men’s hats – blocking in one with upturn brim

Making men’s hats with an upturned brim. Can I block the crown and brim together in one piece?

You can block a hat in one piece by using either a single cone or a capeline. This technique is called ‘blocking in one’ and is often used when making men’s hats. So, yes this is possible!

Certainly, if you want to make men’s hats with an upturn from straw and felt in one piece, you need a brim block with a central hole in it. We recommend the hole is 3/4 inch (2 cm) larger in head size than the crown block. This allows for 3mm thickness of felt on the crown block that you will push through the hole in the brim block.

This technique is great for making men’s style hats. Select your crown block and the upturn brim block you will pair it with. You might also want to consider a tipper if you are not hand-shaping the pinch. You’ll also benefit from either a set of brim legs or if you have a number of brims to work with, the universal brim stand.

The blocks used to create the hat below are CB141 crown block with a tipper and paired with the BB55 brim block.

Making men's hat - an example of a fedora using the blocking in one technique

Dealing with the crown

Firstly, steam and stretch the felt capeline over the crown block. If you have a tipper, use it to shape the top, placing a weight on it while the felt dries.

Making hats, steaming the felt. Making men's hats, stretching the felt over the crown block.

Shaping the dimples

Secondly, if you have an open crown block you will hand shape the pinch. If you have a shaped crown block you can either pin fabric into the dimples when on the block, or use an egg iron. The video below shows a short demo of the egg iron in use.

Dealing with the brim

Thirdly, press the felt for the brim flat onto the table with the corner between the crown and brim. Secure it tightly with string at the base of the crown. You can iron the brim gently to get it nice and flat. At this stage, you can make the felt look a little nicer by gently sanding it all over with 320 grit sandpaper. Make sure you sand it all in the same direction.

Now the crown is complete and you can cut the brim to your preferred width size, using a set of brim cutting wheels. The hat at the top of this post was cut to 1 1/2″ but you can go up to 3″ with the BB55.  The brim cutting wheels allow you to cut a very smooth and clean edge. They also allow different brim widths to be achieved from the same brim block as the shaping is done after cutting. The little video below shows the brim edge being cut.

Alternatively, instead of using the cutting wheel, shape the brim on the block and tie the felt into the string groove. After it is dry you can cut the excess felt off with scissors.

Sweatbands and Ribbons

At this stage, you can sew in the sweatband and prepare the ribbon if you like. That leaves only the brim shaping to be done.

Finishing the brim

Now, place the hat upside down inside the brim. (as pictured below). Importantly, the brim must be on a stand or have its own brim legs, to elevate your work off the surface. Now tie a cotton sheet over it using the string groove. Pull it nice and tight, spray lightly with water and iron (not too hot). Leave it to dry and remove.

Making men's hats pushing the blocked crown through the brim block. Leaving the felt on the hat block to dry.

Finishing the hat

If you want to flip the front down use a little steam across the front. This allows you to bend the front of the brim down to complete the shape.

Finally, attach the hat ribbon, maybe choose a feather trim to add to the hat and you’re done!

We’ll be answering more of your questions soon, in the meantime if you’re looking for inspiration and millinery projects why not head over to HATalk? With this code GMB20 claim 20% off a new HATalk Subscription.

If you’re hoping to delve deeper and improve your skills then check out – which houses a list of millinery and hat making courses around the world and available teachers.




18 thoughts on “Making men’s hats – blocking in one with upturn brim”

  1. I signed up for a hat making workshop just prior to Covid lockdown. It was a millinery focused workshop with 11 women and me, the lone male. The teacher had some fedora making bona fides and was helpful but…….. I blocked my felt and the next day was about to flange it and the teacher asked when I was planning on cutting/separating the crown from the brim. I was horrified…..”Why would I do that” I asked? She replied “it is how it is done”. I told her that if I separated the brim from the crown and sewed it back together every custom hatter I knew would stop speaking to me forever if they found out.
    That is when I learned that millinery while related to fedora making are distant cousins they are of a different family.

  2. Hello,

    I was wondering if you could help me with some questions I have.

    Do I need a different block/dolly if I want to make different sizes ? (S/M/L)

    Thank you.

  3. HI – I love the Knowledge Hub! seeing a quick video of a specific tool or method is so helpful,
    and it’s just enough to get the idea without struggling to remember all the many steps. Thank you for
    gifting us, your many customers, with your knowledge.

  4. Hi Robert, Yes two different approaches but lots of crossovers. Also, there are lots of ways to achieve the same things!

  5. Hello! Depending on what you’re making the answer varies. For men’s hats you need each size, but for ladies hats there are some techniques that allow you to go up or down 1/2″ that I’ll be covering in another post 🙂

  6. Thanks Deb, I’m so pleased it’s been of help! I’ve a lot of questions to plough through so stay tuned… 🙂

  7. This is really useful thank you for sharing! I’m uncertain when to sand or not? Also where do you purchase different grit sandpapers?
    thanks very much Lisa

  8. Thanks Lisa! Once you’ve got your crown blocked and brim ironed flat, you can then sand it. You can get the sandpapers you need from your local hardware shop.

  9. Could you also disucss the sizing/stiffener that is often used on felt hats, and I believe sometimes sinimay, as well?

  10. Really enjoying these Owen.😊 Keep em coming!
    When you say cover men’s felt brim with cotton sheet, what is the exact purpose?

  11. Thanks Gabrielle! The cotton sheet pulls the felt onto the brim all in one go and then also protects the felt from too much heat. I think it also helps keep steam in the felt.

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