In April 2009, I took a Millinery class at the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts with
Barbara Kile. It was a 2 days workshop, with 4 students and we all had a great time. We learned how to block felt and straw and made 2 hats.
The w-e before the workshop I went to the Warrenton antique fair, and I bought a hat block. I was very lucky that day because I got it cheap (I had no idea of the value
at the time), and it is my size. So I was able to use it to block a hat during the class. It was a little challenging for a first try because the shape
is not round and has a V.
First you wrap the block to protect it from the moisture. Then you thoroughly wet the fur felt body, it takes time. The felt is placed
on the block and manually stretched to conform to the shape. To help in the stretching process a steamer is used. The hat is secured on the block with
a cord and left to dry overnight. After that process the felt will hold its shape (but could be re-blocked into another shape later).
The process for blocking a straw or sinamay hat is the same, the straw should be slightly wet (use a spray bottle).
Hats may be made out of fabric, and you can find patterns by Vogue or Simplicity.
I made my first hat as a sewing project when I was taking classes.
Sinamay: Free Form
Sinamay is a woven fabric made of natural fiber. It comes in different colors and may be dyed. It can be "sculpted" into
free-form hats, that are a lot of fun to make and to wear.