• Behind the Scenes: Millinery Techniques: Blocking a Felt Trilby
  • Suzy O'Rourke
  • Felt HatFur FeltHat blockingMaking a hatMILLINERYmillinery techniques
Behind the Scenes: Millinery Techniques: Blocking a Felt Trilby

Come behind the scenes and follow the step by step process of how we create a Fur Felt Trilby! 

Step 1: The Design                                                                 

This felt trilby has been ordered by a client to wear to the Winter races in Queensland.  The design is a 'sharp and chic'  trilby featuring an asymmetrical crown and turned up brim blocked in a luxurious black rabbit fur felt trimmed with a leather and felt band. 

Step 2: Blocking the Crown and Brim Shapes

The black fur felt cone has been selected and is ready for steaming, the steam will penetrate the felt making it damp and pliable to stretch over the wooden blocks. The felt is stretched over the asymmetrical crown block first, excess felt is trimmed off to then be stretched over the brim block. Depending on the block shapes and felt this process needs quite a bit of  'elbow grease'!  The felt is held into place on the blocks with tacs, blocking pins and elastic and left to dry for about 24 hours. 

Black Fur Felt ConesteamerSteaming the feltCrown blocking

Step 3: Stiffen, Wire & Stitch : Finishing the shape

Once the felt is dry it is removed from the blocks and stiffened with a clear stiffener, painted on with a soft brush with very thin coats to the underside of the felt.  The felts go back on the blocks to let the stiffener dry and set, this can take another 24 hours depending on the weather.  This drying ensures the blocked felt will remain in the shape blocked.  Once the stiffener is set the crown and brim shapes are trimmed of excess felt and are sewn together …Exciting moment as this is the first time the hat shape is revealed!  The brim edge is wired to keep its shape and then bound - for this hat the binding is millinery Petersham ribbon that is stitched to the brim by hand and then dampened to shrink to shape.  Tadaa! The trilby is now ready for trimming.

Crown and Brim pinned togetherWire and stitch brime dge

Step 4: Preparing the Trim

Ideas for trimming a hat are boundless! We are keeping the trim quite simple on this trilby so it doesn't take away from the slick felt shape.  A strip of felt has been cut to size and is punched by hand with a steel punch tool and hammer to create small holes for a piece of leather to be criss-crossed. Once the trim is complete it is stitched in place.

Millinery TrimmingFur Felt Trilby

Step 5: Finishing Touches

The final touches include stitching a head ribbon inside the crown and the label.  The hat is given a once over before being packed with tissue and placed in a hatbox, ready to meet it's new owner and transform from a hat to a statement!

Head ribbon and LabelHat Box

  • Suzy O'Rourke
  • Felt HatFur FeltHat blockingMaking a hatMILLINERYmillinery techniques

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