Beginning Hat Making Lesson One

Izzie Lewis Hatmaking

Wednesday was my first lesson with Izzie Lewis millinery. Izzie trained as an architect and while working for WORKSHOP3D entered the Seattle millinery community. As she tells it…While shopping in a fabric store she met Wayne Wichern and under his tutelage Izzie went on to curate group hat shows in a gallery next to her workplace.  She worked with many accomplished milliners to hone her attention to detail and innovative style and was instrumental in fostering a great community of milliners early in her career. Her calm demeanor and innovative thinking comes through in the classes she offers today.

Oddly enough, I met Izzie in a fabric store.  She works one day a week at Nancy’s Sewing Basket on Queen Anne. I was shopping in their ribbon room and struck up a conversation with Izzie.  The conversation led to hat making and now here I am in my first of four lessons – Beginning Hat Making.

The hat I chose to make is similar in style to the hat shown here
The hat I chose to make is similar in style to the hat shown here

We are making a ‘buckram hat with blocked crown and flat brim’.  Not the easiest hat to make but a good place to learn the skills and because we will meet weekly over 4 weeks there is time for the drying and hand work that is required in this type of construction.

Lesson One

  • We started by choosing a hat style to construct …Izzie warned us that the bigger the brim and crown the more time required
  • Measuring head size … it is best if someone else places the tape at the widest part of the head above the ears and you write down the measurement.
  • Next we choose a brim size and using a template from Izzies collection cut the disk from the buckram.

    Brim with wire and flannel basted 1/4" from edge
    Brim with wire and flannel basted 1/4″ from edge
  • Center lines and headsize [using a wood template] were traced onto the buckram [always make the hat 1/4″-3/4″ bigger than head size – my head size is 21 1/4″ and I used a 22″ template for my hat ]
  • Next we blanket stitched milliners wire to the brim edge, the wire is joined with a ‘joiner’.  The wire can be machine sewn to the brim edge with a ‘cording foot’…which works very nicely and makes for only hand stitching at the joiner.
  • Then we traced the brim onto cotton flannel, cut 2 pieces and steam pressed to the buckram, on side #1 we hand basted the flannel with a running stitch 1/4″ from the wire edge, we also basted a headsize line. On side #2 we basted the flannel 1/4″ from the wire edge
  • The crown was formed from a square of buckram.  First we dipped the buckram in warm water and then [with guidance] stretched and formed the pliable buckram over our selected block.
  • The stretching included aligning the grain, pulling tautly, tying, tacking and using a technique to remove fullness.
  • The crown was left on the block to dry
Buckram on block for my hat
Buckram on block shaping my hat crown

By the end of the lesson we had a basted brim and a stretched crown.

Our assignment for next lesson is to purchase 1 yard of fabric for our hat!

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