Can I make a hat bigger than the head size of my hat blocks?

Can I make a hat bigger than the head size of my hat blocks?

Sometimes you get asked to make a hat for a head that is bigger than the blocks you own. To make hats in a larger size is possible. You can do this by ‘double blocking’.

Double Blocking a Crown Block

Firstly, you need either an old felt capeline or an old felt hat with a wide brim. If using an old felt hat, strip off any trimming, inner headbands, and wiring. TIP: If it’s marked with glue patches then turn it inside out before proceeding.

Next, get the crown block you’re going to use and cover with clingfilm/saran wrap just as you would if blocking a hat.

Take the old hat or felt capeline and block it over the prepared block. Leave it to dry and trim off the excess felt. Before removing it from the block mark the felt Centre Front (CF) and Back CB) with a Chinagraph pencil and a block reference.

If you want to make the block larger still mark the first felt #1 and cover with clingfilm/saran wrap as before. Now block another old felt capeline or hat over the top and allow it to dry. Trim any excess off as before and mark CF and CB as above and #2 to remind you.

You can do this up to three times, but the definition of the shape gets lost, depending on how much shape and what features are already in the block. Also, the padding becomes too thick to hold pins in the wooden block beneath, during blocking. We wouldn’t recommend using this technique on trilby or fedora crowns with dimples for this reason.

Finally, block your new capeline over the clingfilm/saran wrap covered padded block in the usual way.

**The felts you have may vary in thickness but as a useful guide for every 1mm thickness of felt padding, you will add ¼” to the head size.**

Double Blocking a Down-turned Brim Block

To increase the size of a down-turned brim block you can use a larger collar size than your brim. Fix the larger collar to the brim, cover in clingfilm/saran wrap and block as usual.

Brim Collar CO1
Brim Collar CO1

How do I increase the size of an Up-turned Brim Block?

You cannot make an up-turned brim block bigger in head size. You can overcome this by stretching the brim after you have taken it off the block. Dampen the fabric at the headband and stretch it gently over a collar of the required size, or you can use a graded Stretcher Block if you have one.

Stretcher Block SB1
Stretcher Block SB1

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 Hatcourses.com – which houses a list of millinery and hat making courses around the world and available teachers.

Blocking in One Technique – Down Turned Brim

Blocking in one down turned brim

Making hats with a down-turned brim. Can I use the blocking in one technique?

Yes, blocking in one is a common technique for down-turned brim hats. Before the advent of sinamay, felt and straw were the hatters and milliners’ materials. These come partly shaped as cones (hoods) and capelines.  For very small-brimmed hats such as cloches, you can use a cone. For larger brimmed hats you can use a capeline. When you block your hat in one, it is made from either a single cone or a capeline to form a one-piece hat. If you want a large brim you must source large capelines. Alternatively, you can consider blocking the crown and brim separately (the crown from a cone, and the brim from a capeline).

Select your blocks

First, you must fix your crown and brim blocks together. As a side note, be careful about which crown block you choose because full height crown blocks are generally taller than you need. This is to allow you to vary the height of your finished crown when blocking separately. We offer a number of options to get the height you need for blocking in one, from exact height crown blocks to Multiblock Tips and varying height Multiblock Extensions.

Cover your chosen brim block with cling film

Covering your down turned brim block

Tape the cling film securely to the underneath of the block.

Covering the down turned brim block

Next, cover your chosen crown and either screw or attach to brim with sticky fixers

Attaching crown block to brim block for blocking in one

Stretch your steamed cone / capeline over the crown and brim

Stretch capeline over hat blocks for blocking in one

Tie blocked cone / capeline at the base of crown block with string

Tie blocked crown of hat with string

At this point, you may wish you had extra hands! A runner down is a very handy tool used to push your string down the blocked crown into the corner between crown and brim. This could be on a cloche block or any crown/brim combination where you need a well-defined line between crown and brim. Watch the demo below:

Pin brim edge or tie into string groove

Pinning brim edge using a pin pusher for blocking in one

Pictured above is the ingenious Pin Pusher tool. The pin pusher’s wooden handle fits comfortably into the hand and the metal tube into which the dressmaker’s pin is dropped, head first, has a magnet at the bottom. Subsequently, this holds the pin inside so that it does not fall out, whatever the angle of the tool. Dressmaker’s pins can be hard to press into wooden blocks. Using a thimble can be awkward as it easily slips off the pinhead. A pin pusher gives you extra mechanical power! After pinning into place, allow the hat to dry.

Remove the dry finished hat from blocks and stiffen.

Your hat is now ready to put in a sweatband, or a ribbon, and trim as you wish!

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 Hatcourses.com – which houses a list of millinery and hat-making courses around the world and available teachers.

If you live outside the UK please check what import charges / customs duties you can expect to pay on the value of your order before buying.