I hope you’re having a lovely, relaxing weekend.
If you’re going to The Galway Races next week or The Sligo Races and you fancy trying your hand at a bit of hat making, here’s a step-by-step guide for beginners. Rainy days are ideal for getting crafty!
What you need:
✓ Hat block
✓ Cling film
✓ Thumb tacks
✓ Needle & thread
✓ Glue gun
I borrowed this mini pill-box hat block from my friend Laura this weekend. Normally, I prefer something a little flatter, but I wanted to give this style a go. Laura regularly makes bespoke hats for weddings and the races – as a hobby mainly, but I’m always encouraging her to pursue the craft further. You can buy hat blocks here and here.
If you decide to invest in a hat block, it’s important to protect it so you can use it over and over.
Step 1 : Protect the block
Wrap the block with 2 layers of cling film. You can also cover it with a small plastic bag for added protection.
Step 2: Wet the buckram
You can use sinamay or buckram. I used buckram. Locally, you can get it above Homeland in Sligo. It’s a coarse, stiff cloth but as soon as it’s dampened, it softens and becomes more flexible, sticky and stretchy. You can use an atomiser to spray water on the buckram or simply pop it in the sink and run the tap slowly. It doesn’t have to be drenched. Shake it off – do not squeeze it or ring it out as you will remove the stiffener.
Step 3: Cover the block
I used 2 squares of buckram (enough to cover the block and a little extra), you can use 3 if you wish. I criss-crossed the buckram, layering one piece over the other. This video on YouTube helped me! I think you can learn how to do anything thanks to YouTube.
Step 4: Pin the base
You can use special blocking pins, but I used thumb tacks. I started off using regular sewing pins – trying to improvise with what I had, but these are too long and bend. Thumb tacks are ideal and readily available from your local newsagents. You pin the buckram to the base of the block.
Step 5: Leave to dry
I left mine to dry overnight in the warmest room in the house, but if you’re under pressure for time, try a hairdryer!
Step 6: Remove the pins
The buckram is now stiff once again and has taken on the shape of the hat block. Cut the excess buckram, remove the pins and remove your hat from the block.
Step 7: Decorate
Now it’s time to get creative. I covered my buckram with fabric from an old dress and glued on an old earring. I’d recommend pinning the fabric in place before you start sewing. I didn’t and it was tricky to sew without causing the fabric to pucker. I glued black felt to the base to cover the buckram and tidy everything up. Decorate as you wish with trimmings, feathers, gems, buttons and embellishment. Attach a crocodile clip, a slide or a hairband to secure.
Voilà! That’s a Beginner’s Guide to Hat Blocking! I hope that helped in some way.
The Latest: I’ve teamed up with Hen and Stag Sligo to bring you a very creative hen party package. Full details here. Another service I offer is jewellery making for kids’ parties. I travel to your home, teach your child and friends about upcycling and refashioning and they create their very own accessories. Read all about our parties here.
Earlier this summer I was kindly asked to judge the Sligo GAA Race Day, but unfortunately I was otherwise engaged. However, I’ll be on the look-out for the Best Dressed Lady at Lola Montez Thursday 4th August following Ladies’ Day at Sligo Races. We have €500 up for grabs for the most stylish sartorialist on the night. Last year I was honoured to judge Ladies’ Day. See my Top 10 here.
Thanks for reading!
Happy hat making!