Sunday, 4 February 2018

The 'chimneypot' hat - part 1

Of all the courses I've done at the Hat Works, the Make-Do and Mend course, where we made our own hat blocks and then hats, was my favourite. So when it was run a second time, I couldn't resist the chance to do it again.

First time round I had used the tutors' pattern for a hat block, but this time I decided that I wanted to be more adventurous and make my own. A quick search on 1940s hats provided lots of inspiration images, both family photos and studio images.

1940s wedding photos - unfortunately I forgot to note the sources

A selection of more formal shots

From these I decided that the two things I wanted were a tall, narrow crown, and a soft dent in the top of the crown. I had some ideas of how I might create a block to achieve this, but wasn't sure if it would work.

I forgot to take any in-progress shots, but the crown started life as a cone shape in paper. I drew on the top and bottom edges, cut out the shape, tidied it up a bit and then used this pattern to cut the card. I cut a second card piece, ½" lower and slightly narrower. Later I realised that I should have drawn this second piece with the vertical join line in a different place, but it wasn't an insurmountable problem. I taped the smaller piece of card together, and drew round it to get the shape for the block top.

The top was taped in place, and the shape stuffed with newspaper to make the block. Then I taped the larger piece of card round the outside, and added a sausage of rolled-up newspaper round the inside. this was taped into place, and the whole thing covered with tape.

The completed block, with dented top

Side view

As soon as I saw the range of felt hoods available, I knew that I wanted one of the rust ones because I had the perfect trims for it at home. It was a good choice; the hood turned out to be  one of the nicest and easiest to work with that I've ever used. Some hoods just don't want to play ball, but this one was perfect. I needed to shape it to be flattish at the top, then pulled into a far narrower cone than usual, and then to splay out again for the brim. A big ask, but it came together effortlessly. I thought that I would need some sort of weight to hold down the dent in the top, but it just stayed in place.

Blocked and ready to dry

There is no denying that the end result does look a bit like a chimneypot, though!


  1. I love reading your posts about making hat blocks, I really should try it myself. I love the colour that you chose, it's going to look amazing. Is it a fur felt or wool felt? I've been told that fur felt is actually much easier to deal with than wool, but most beginners avoid it because it's much more expensive.

    I've always loved the hat that's second from the left on the bottom row of your examples image. I think it would be perfect to block over a flower pot! xx

    1. I've never tried using fur felt; as you say, it's much more expensive. Wool hoods vary massively in how they handle, even ones from the same supplier. I've had some which really didn't want to co-operate, so it was a treat to have one which was so easy to use.

      And yes, I did think that it would be the perfect colour for that flower pot hat! xx