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How to Make a Hat Base

Fabric bow and feather embellishments transform the hat base from simple to stunning.
A flower, bow, and veil finish a pod wth vintage charm and a touch of mystery.
Download the template.
Fabric bow and feather embellishments transform the hat base from simple to stunning.

Fabric bow and feather embellishments transform the hat base from simple to stunning.

Photo: Jack Deustch

Soft hats and caps are well and good for casualwear and baseball teams. A really stylish chapeau, however, calls for structure, a shape that supports lovely extravagances from bows to veils.

Traditional millinery techniques require costly equipment, such as hat blocks and steamers, in order to create stiff, shaped hats. I've found an alternative means to make hats. It's done with inexpensive materials and doesn't require much fabric. The supplies are readily available, with the exception of heavyweight buckram, milliner's wire, and wire joiner, all of which can be ordered online. My method is so simple-you don't even need to measure your head.

Here, I share my technique to make the "pod," a brimless oval contoured to fit the head. A hat in its own right, the pod is also the foundation piece for brimmed styles. To see more detail on these styles, see the full article in Threads #153, and don't miss other fundamental techniques like this one by purchasing a print subscription of Threads Magazine.

Form a hat base from buckram
The stiff, slightly cupped "pod" is an oval of heavyweight buckram. Lapped darts shape the pod, and lining covers the underside.


Shape the buckram
1. Cut the pod pattern from heavyweight buckram. Download the template. Trace the pattern on the buckram, and cut out the pod shape. Make seven cuts, each 1-3/4 inches long, from the pod's edge toward the center.

Click image below to download template.


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Comments (22)

user-3059980 user-3059980 writes: Exquisite Fabrics has a good selection of buckram fascinator forms online.
Posted: 3:08 am on January 14th

Sg60545 Sg60545 writes: Love this! Would love to see how you finish off your hats. How you you add your embellishments!
Posted: 7:55 am on June 4th

mscgal mscgal writes: I love wearing hats, and the instructions and ideas in the article and online have encouraged me to think creatively and try making one of my own. Thanks!
Posted: 7:29 pm on February 10th

MerrySunshine MerrySunshine writes: I am a Red Hatter and I love to wear hats of all kinds. I have several ways of keeping a hat on my head. One way is to make a small ponytail in my hair where I want the hat to set and then I anchor the comb on the hat or I use a hat pin to catch the pony tail. Sometimes I anchor the hat to a plastic head band (not stretchy cloth) which I have glued felt patches on so I can sew the hat to it. If your hair is fine, tease and spray it a little before making the pony tail. Hope this helps.
Posted: 2:24 pm on February 3rd

Sunspot Sunspot writes: Hi - quick question - I'm not that young but I have never worn many hats, but when I even try to wear a headband (The stretchy kind) they slide off the back of my head. Do you use bobby pins or what?
Posted: 11:10 am on February 1st

Villa_for2 Villa_for2 writes: Your hats are beautiful but what happened to the practical working girls hats of the 40s? You could tilt them to one side and they complimented the lady's face. The looked great with suits or dresses and were so practical. Maybe a small feather but no lace. I guess it was a more tailored look. It had a short crown and about a 3 or 4" brim.

It was worn to work each day, and would look great with slacks. I enjoy watching the Turner Classic movies and the ladies who wore their hat so well.

I've tried to find one but I'm still searching, is their a pattern? Maybe I could make one.

Posted: 1:00 pm on January 12th

cynsew cynsew writes: I absolutely loved this article. So informative from start to finish. Eash step had great detail. Well done!! Can't wait to give this a try!!
Posted: 7:16 am on January 12th

lglwitch lglwitch writes: I LOVED the article on hat making. I have have been experimenting with hatmaking and remaking for the last few years, trying to figure it out on my own. I have ordered some very good books, but they often call for equipment I don't have or can't justify in my budget. This is a great article and I can't wait to try these things. I'm posting in the Reader's Closet a couple of the hats i made with florist wire, buckram, remnant fabrics and trims, craft store feathers and other odds and ends from patterns i figured out on my own. Thanks again for a great article.
Posted: 6:19 pm on January 5th

pj42nite pj42nite writes: love. would also be great with crochet.must try it soon. am currantly making comfort caps. for cancer and also for people how just like hats.

Posted: 11:35 am on January 5th

peej2 peej2 writes: Louisegtx - Gee, what a great idea! As my mother always says "When in doubt, ask?"

I'm excited. I love to try new things.
Also, the article on slow sewing...that's amazing because I've recently decided to slow down when I sew. I'm always in such a hurry to get everything done. When it's done, I just kind of look around and wonder "OK, what next."
I do that with books, too.
Posted: 7:00 pm on January 4th

Louisegtx Louisegtx writes: Since I also could not find the instructions for the bows and veils, etc. I wrote to the editor and got this response

"Keep watching! We have 3 additional posts coming up (scheduled for Thursday this week). The plan right now is to add a new post each week until the additional posts are complete."

Posted: 2:08 pm on January 4th

peej2 peej2 writes: happysewing, If you're missing something so am I. I searched and only found a silk flower. Very pretty, but I'm not a flower kind of gal. I would like to make the "leopard" hat, only not "leopard." Since I missed the sources online and just saw them in my latest issue, I was afraid it was just me.
Posted: 2:16 am on January 4th

happysewing happysewing writes: I read the article in the magazine, which I have been getting for years. I really enjoy each issue. In the article it said to log into to learn how to make the bows, veils and feathers. I don't see any links to this information. Am I missing something?

Happy Sewing.
Posted: 5:28 pm on January 1st

Cinnamon77 Cinnamon77 writes: If you are looking for millinery supplies, check out They have veiling and buckram by the yard.
Posted: 7:44 pm on December 31st

peej2 peej2 writes: Where can I find the veiling for hats? I have scoured the internet and cannot find any. HELP!

My mom got me a subscription to Threads for Christmas. I've received my first issue and can't wait for more. I absolutely LOVE pushing the creativity envelope with great new ideas and techniques.
Posted: 4:18 pm on December 31st

jennyduds jennyduds writes: As a professional milliner for 25+ years, I compliment you on a well written and explained tutorial and am looking forward to more articles on millinery. Thank you!
Posted: 3:24 pm on December 31st

nanacosta nanacosta writes: Thank you!!! this is a lovely tutorial, so well explain and with easy to get materials!!! Wish you will teach us more about hats!!! thank you and happy new year!!
Posted: 12:29 pm on December 31st

Moonbeams Moonbeams writes: I make clothes for fashion dolls. Hats are a mystery. I will try this. If it works, I'll send Threads a photo.

Petite Moonbeams
Posted: 8:35 am on December 31st

bushbunny bushbunny writes: Well done. Hats and bags are my favourite accessory pieces and this will expand the repetoire -
Posted: 12:02 am on December 31st

Zippylady Zippylady writes: I want to try my hand at these types of hats/fascinators. I found preformed POD's to try my hand at. I will have to look at them more closely to see if they need wiring.

Thanks for all this great information.
Posted: 11:34 pm on December 30th

themadtailor themadtailor writes: Well-detailed, clear instructions. Looks like great fun, and makes me long for the 80's when bridal parties wore hats! This would be a fun project to show off your skills and creativity, and could be used as a decorative accent if not on a lady's head!
Posted: 11:27 pm on December 30th

lyndasm lyndasm writes: Good instructions and will work well in a mixed media of sewing and crochet. Not expensive to make either. Love it!
Posted: 11:14 pm on December 30th

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