Ask Hatsupply

Millinery Information Highway

Ask Hat Supply is a Millinery Forum for you, our customers, to ask “How Do I” questions and get expert, qualified industry answers and consultations.

Email us your millinery questions and we will email you the answers. We will also post the question and answer on the Ask Hat Supply forum for the benefit of all our customers. Email Your Question


I’ve been asked, “Why the Different Looks?”

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I have been creating magical moments to stack. ” Hallelujah Energy”. I have also been embracing different parts of myself, ex. Silver hair embraces the fun wise woman becoming more prominent.

Doing business in the OLD WAY is not effective. Many who stick to old methods join chat rooms to find kindred people who complain about their state of affairs (negative). They get to be RIGHT, but this does not help them be fulfilled nor does it help them generate Repeat RAVING FAN CUSTOMERS.

In the NEW WAY of doing business, you embrace all the parts of yourself, you use everything as energy to spur you on (positive). You share the VALUE that you are already getting from your life and product.

You can no longer just show up at a craft fair and sell your old designs. Hats are so hot now that every clothes vendor is also selling hats as part of the outfit in one stop shopping!

They are stuck buying the same old designs from importers.  You the designer, can sell NEW designs! What does the Fun Wise Woman in you LONG to wear? What does the flapper in you LONG to wear? What does your customer in front of you want to wear? Ask them and give them what they want and what they dared not want. Fulfill the unfulfilled part of them.
If you are personally creating magical moments in your own life you can help your customer have magical moments when donning your design. You are not in the business of selling just hats, your are in the business of selling magical moments. You are in the business of Granting Happiness. Your customers are overwhelmed in a world of too much information AND doomsday economic predictions. Give them an experience of VALUEING THEMSELVES.

Who among you has put on a hat a felt uplifted. Pass it forward. The world is craving what you have to offer. But remember, if you are craving it…give it to yourself first.
Change it up, Hat up!
Leko, for consultation Ask Hatsupply.


Question:  Hello, I recently ordered a couple of natural panamas from you. I am about to block one for a customer with a very small Head (under 21”), I am concerned about the excess that I will have in the brim and it will have to be trimmed.  Do you have any suggestions for achieving a nice finish on the edge, since sadly I will have to removed the existing finished edge.

Answer:  On some hats you have to sew before you cut to insure they don’t unravel. I don’t think it will be necessary on this hat. On some hats you will need to wire the edge before covering in grosgrain. Whether or not you wire depends on what you will do with the brim and what the straw will do without wire. That is your call. Instructions on how to put the grosgrain are in my grosgrain book …you can sign up for my hat making classes and more that are free on my home page. One of the first emails you will get is the small book that will teach you about grosgrain.

Cowboy Hats

Question:  I am a rank amateur hat maker, but I am trying to make a few (merino wool wet felted) cowboy hats and have several questions before I place my order with you and try to get underway:

1. How should I wire the brim? I do not want anything too stiff, but I would like the sides to roll up–a la cowboy style, and malleable enough for the wearer to choose a personal style. Should I try to turn the felt under @ 1/2″ and insert the wire, or attach the wire with a sewing machine zigzag to the edge? Or do cowboy hats use the grosgrain edging? Which wire would be best, and should I measure the wire a tad shorter than the circumference to ensure that the brim stays up on the sides?

Answer:  Usually your hat block will turn under… if not you don’t need to turn it under. Just button hole stitch the wire on the edge and cover it with grosgrain. Of leave the edge with no wire, just trim and use light sandpaper on the edge. Your choice.

2. How much cotton elastic do I need for the sweatbands if the inside measurement of the hat will be @23″? Since I don’t know if the wearers have a medium or small head, I would like the sweatband to help bridge the gap. Is there a simple elastic you would recommend for felt hats?

Answer:  23″ head size can’t be brought down to small with elastic. You will have to block a hat in a smaller size.

3. I already have some of your stiffener, but I want these hats to remain a bit soft–can I dilute the stiffener? How much should I dilute to have a hat that retains its shape outdoors, yet remains a bit malleable? Also, do I stiffen the hat before or after I sew on the sweatband?

Answer:  Don’t dilute stiffener, Just put less on by using a spray bottle and spray it on then brush it into the felt with a dry brush. Never dilute.

4. I’ve noticed that some cowboy hats have grommets through which one can attach a long cord to pull up around the chin. Do you recommend that technique? Do you sell the eyelet grommets? Can you recommend a cording for a strap?  Thanks, Linda

Answer:  I personally don’t use grommets or cord. Sorry.

Dying Paper Toyo Hoods

Question:  What type of dye would you use for paper toyo hoods?  Fiber reactive, acid or pigment?  Thanks!!!  Chris

Answer:  Fiber reactive or a union dye. (Rit).  Hatsupply


Question:  If I want to make a fascinator hat, how do I affix it to my head? I am really winging it here… Thanks! Sarah

Answer:  Many ways. Choices Choices too many Choices. You can use the combs that we sell. You use the hat elastics! You can use both. You can build the fascinator on a head band. You can cut felt strips that wrap about head like a headband and come together with elastic! The only limit to how it can be done is the limits you allow on your imagination. Have fun and create new ways! Look at old hats to see how they did it. Nothing is etched in stone in millinery. Yes there are basics and then there is what you chose to do with them. Hatsupply

Question:  Sounds good! I want the hat to look like it is sitting effortlessly on my head — like Kate Middleton wears them. Do you think the combs are the way to go?
Thanks SO much! Sarah

Answer:  When I use combs, I take my hair and put some in a pin curl. I then ‘X’ (cross) 2 hair pins on top of the pin curl holding it in place. Then I slide the comb under the hair pin held pin curl. I find this to be a way that hold combs in place very securely. Hatsupply


Question:  I’m interested in purchasing the 4″-5″ brim panama hat and have some questions about it.

I’d like to give the crown a shape more like a fedora, instead of just round. How high is the crown of this hat? Also, I don’t have a hat block, but online research has shown me that one can achieve a desired look with hand manipulation and a steam iron. Do you agree?

What size is this hat? I am 7 1/4″.

Also do these hats come with sweatbands? If not, what type of sweatband would you recommend? Is it fairly simple to sew in a leather sweatband if I have an awl to pierce the leather? Melissa

Answer:  Melissa, 7 1/4 is a men’s hat size. Women use inches. And men use leather sweatbands. Woman use grosgrain. I have a free book available on my home page along with free tutorials on hatmaking.

The crown is deep enough to make a fedora. Steam the crown with your tea pot, shape it. Sew from the inside to keep it down. Sew a big X across from the side to the center of the pinch of the fedora on both sides to insure stability of your pinch. If you insist on a leather sweatband, get a leather needle and use any sewing machine.
Above all have fun. Hatsupply

Felt Making

Question:  Do you have wool roving?  Sandy

Answer:  We don’t but we’ll order it and have it in about a week. We’ll also have felting supplies as well.  Hatsupply

Update:  Our felt making supplies are in stock. Use this link to go to our new Felt Making Supplies page.  We have a glossary of terms and definitions for those who are not familiar with felt making.  Hatsupply

Grosgrain Ribbon

Question:  Which of your ribbon selections would be best for the band / bow on a men’s fedora? And which would be best for a bound brim? I saw the “Men’s Grosgrain Hat Band Ribbon” but will that allow for curving around the hat and laying smooth? Thank you for the information, Rob

Answer:  Hat band ribbon is just for the hat band. Millinery Grosgrain with the scalloped edges is used for the brim and for the interior sweatbands and sometimes for hat bands too.  Hatsupply

Measuring Hat Bodies

This is how you measure a hat body and figure out what the brim size is.
First it should be 6” across the top of the crown.
Second it should be 4” deep in crown area.
Third is considered the brim size. (what is left after you subtract the top of crown and side of crown).
So fold the hat body in half.
Measure from top of crown to bottom of brim.
Subtract 3” for 1/2 of top of crown.
Subtract 4” for side of crown.
Balance is brim size.

The manufacture names size as follows
11/12 is a 4”-5” brim (example: 11” minus 3” minus 4” =4” brim)
12/13 is a 5”-6” brim
13/14 is a 6′-7” brim
14/15 is a 7”-8” brim


Question:  Hey, Leko I have a question for you. I was wondering what is the best needle to sew a lining with, since when I sew the hat lining I would want to be careful not to go all the way through the felt, but go half way into the felt and then back into the hat. I thought maybe you could help me with this.  Thanks, Eric W.

Answer:  We sell millinery needles, but we also have curved needles. My regular needles used to curve naturally over time from repeated stress on them. Needles are a personal thing. Many like #6 needles because they are small and penetrate felt easier, others like larger ones because they are easier to thread and hold on to.  Hatsupply


Question:  Hello!  I currently work straw hats with old straw bakou … I find them dull, I’ve dyed … Do you sell a product that could give shine more brightly in the straw and also give the stiffness so that the hat keeps its shape …. the products you sell to fix the dye. .. is it used for not sunburned..thank you for this information. Lisa

Answer:  First try the cheapest remedy. Wade some paper towels up in your hand making the surface of paper both protect your hands but also flat inside of hat. Then take a hot iron and putting one hand with paper inside hat and the other with hot iron in circle motions on the outside of the hat and polish the hat. It should give you a sheen. If it does not work, purchase our all purpose hat stiffener and apply, let dry and then polish. This time it should work. Hatsupply

Question:  I want to purchase (50)FERRULES, (1) gross of HAT BOWS and try (1) QT. STIFFENER.. Can all this be shipped together, trying to save some money on shipping! Thanks for your time.. Can you tell me please how this stiffener is applied… I won’t be using a garden hose! Can I use a regular hand held spray bottle or brush? how do the hatters use it. thanks for your time. I’m just not familiar with the product, that’s why the   Anonymous

Answer:  Yes, all of your wish list can fit into one box. But in the comments section you are always welcome to put any special request like this one and we do our best to fulfill your wishes. The felt hat stiffener can be applied with a brush or you can spray it on and then brush it in. Your choice. The second method will give a more even lighter application. If you wish the application to be heavier, you may wish to try the brush method. You can use both methods for different results. You can usually pick up an inexpensive spray bottle at your local grocery store. And any inexpensive 2 inch brush will work. Hatsupply

Straw Braid/Hemp

Question:  I’m looking for a straw body to use for blocking men’s boater style hats.   Similar to these: I have found that the panama’s from my local millinery supply shop don’t fit, the top of the straw is too narrow for the squat, flat crown block. Do you sell a straw body (preferably a panama) that will work? thank you in advance for your help.

Answer:  The photos that you showed me are made with straw braid. This is the link to our straw braid.  I have also made boaters in about 10 min. using our parasisal hoods and a travel iron so you don’t need a block. Let me know if you are interested in more info on how to do this method.  Hatsupply

Straw Hat Bodies – Unfinished

Question:  Looking for help on how to finish off the edges of Jinsin. And any other help with working with this.  Brenda

Answer:   Have you tried folding grosgrain, swirl it with a steam iron and sew it to the edge?  Hatsupply

Thank you, I will give that a try!  Brenda

Answer:  Brenda, when you fold the grosgrain, fold the bottom a bit larger than the top so that when place it over the edge of the hat and sew it, it will be easier to pick up the bottom edge of the grosgrain without missing it since you will not be able to see it. Making hats is so much fun, isn’t it? I am still loving it after 22 years in business.  Hatsupply

That is a great tip, thanks! Yes I do love it, but have SO much to learn.  Brenda

Wet Hats

Question:  It snowed a little and my hats now have grayish spots where the snow drops fell. Is this the shellac stiffener? Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Get the original color back?

Answer:  It is not the stiffener…Don’t know what it is. The stiffener will give you water resistance. It is mixed with alcohol not water …so water does not dissolve it.  Maybe it is just wet.

No, it’s dry now with gray splotches. I used no other liquid components, after the hot felting with Murphy’s Oil soap, which I rinsed thoroughly. It’s alpaca wool.

Answer:  Yes, I just spoke to my best friend who is a hat expert! She suggested brushing off hats first then use alcohol on a cloth to clean it off. She said it is important to keep your hats dusted by brushing with a hat brush because dust can cause spots when it gets wet.

I didn’t know that. Dust, huh? We have plenty here.


Question:  I need to get some millinery wire to sew onto the brim of a couple of hats that are too floppy (along with some other supplies). I’m an amateur so don’t know which of the ones you sell would be best for that. Can you tell me what kind you would recommend? Thank you!  Susan

Answer:  Most hat makers use #19 white rayon covered wire.   Hatsupply

Question:  Thanks for the fast response. Now, please ignore my ignorance and ask about the plastic brim wire. (Since I have different color hats to beef up). Will that work the same?  Susan

Answer:  Plastic wire works for hats that you want to have a round flexible wire. That is an option too. I would go for the 2nd heaviest gage (1.50mm) in that case. Both will work, you could try both since we have a low $29.00 min. order requirement to meet. But, for your own experience you need to experiment with both in different applications.  Hatsupply