Updated on by Sarina
While shopping for hats or sewing your own hats, concentrating just on the design and the color of the hat is not enough. You ought to know the materials used in the making of the hat. This will not only help you in selecting the best suitable hat for your purpose but also to effectively take care of your hat and use it for a long long time.
Best fabrics for hats
Wool is one of the most favorite fabrics for making hats. Wool hats come in an assortment of shapes, textures, and sizes. What’s great about wool as a hat-making material is that it is soft and moisture-wicking and regulates body temperature – keeps the head hot in winter and cold in summer. It contains breathable air pockets, which allow you to stay cool in the heat.
Out of all the wool fabrics available, tweed is the most popular – the different patterns and textures available in this material make it very interesting.
Abaca fiber fabrics
Linen Buntal, Paris cloth, Jinsin, and Silk Abaca are commonly used fine textured fabrics made out of abaca fibers. These materials are thin and can be molded into different shapes. Perfect for making floral shapes and drapes in fascinators.
Abaca is a fiber sourced from palm trees. The men of the village strip the fibers from the inside of wild banana palms found in the Philippines. The best grades of abaca are fine, lustrous, light beige in color and very strong. The fabrics can have different types of textures – some are even made to look exactly like cotton canvas.
Fedora is the most famous hat made with felt fabric – this hat has a tapered crown with a center crease. Felt has always been a favorite of milliners because it is easy to mold felt to the shape you want.
Wool felt is the most commonly used felt. Fur felt has a napped finish and is wonderfully soft – but it is expensive. It is used to make berets. Wool felt with a waxed canvas finish has a wonderful feel and look, just right for outdoor hats. Learn more about felt fabrics here.
Straw is a material made by weaving or braiding dried fibers taken from plants. There are a number of plant fibers that are used this way like bamboo, wheatgrass, papyrus reeds, and sisal. You can check out this page for a list of the different straw materials used.
Abaca straw and hemp straw are the most common of these used in hat making. Paper straws made of cellulose are also increasingly being used in hat making.
The fibers are plaited or woven into different shaped crowns and brims. Even today straw hats are made by hand weaving and the quality of these hats are dependant on the tightness and quality of the weaving, and the experience of the weaver. Straw hats are fashionable in protecting your head from the fierce sun rays during summer.
Hats made out of these straws are strong, durable, and water-resistant. But this is only for natural straw. You have to be careful that you have a natural straw – paper straw hats may not be as water resistant or durable.
Knitted and crotcheted hats
Knit and crotchet materials make great winter hats – they are insulating and also head hugging because of their stretchy nature. Checkout the post the best yarn for knitting.
A natural fiber, cotton is soft and breathable. Cotton is one of the most comfortable fabrics and it is easy to sew and embroider. You can often find embroidered logos and designs on cotton caps. The fabric has the ability to absorb and control moisture. Bucket hats are often made with cotton canvas.
Some of the canvas hats are said to have high sun protection in the range of UPF 50+. Another favourite durable fabric used in hat making is cotton duck. This is very important when we are out in the sun for outdoor sports and activities, gardening, fishing etc.
Cotton is often blended with other types of material such as polyester or rayon; this allows the product to be more durable.
Natural fiber extracted from the flax plant, linen is often compared to cotton for its softness and breathability. Therefore, linen hats are very comfortable to wear in summer/hot climates. Linen newspaper boy hats are very comfortable and elegant looking.
Aside from making a strong statement, a leather hat is a long-term investment in your wardrobe. Extremely durable, leather hats breathe easy and can complement any outfit with suede options, or the classic oily finish of a leather cowboy hat.
If you want attention seeking hat, nothing better than using shiny fabrics. You can use materials like satin, lame, taffeta, brocade, velvet to cover hat frames or sew fabric hats.
Fur or fake fur
If you want a fluffy hat nothing like these materials. Fur has almost been banned from hat making because of animal cruelty issues but for a long time, this was a favorite material. Sealskin fur was used extensively to make hats. Mink, sable ermine were other popularly used furs. Fake fur tries to emulate the look and feel of fur with synthetic materials and it is very successful in that. You can make hats that look so much like fur with different types of fake fur available in the market.
Foundation materials and Stiffeners
Crinoline is the most commonly used material to give structure and stiffness to hats. Another option is buckram frame. If you’re looking for another alternative coarse material for hats, then consider elastic nets – it is either used for making frames cut from patterns, or the material can be steamed and blocked into a frame. Honeycomb is a coarse, cotton mesh material that is sometimes used as a foundation material.
Sizing can be used to give stiffness to hats that have become shapeless and floppy from use. You will need different sizing for straws and felt. Straw and felt hats that are steamed and blocked must be properly dry before sizing is applied.
All types of ribbons and linen fabric strips are used as headbands over hats. Saw-tooth grosgrain ribbon is a favourite – One advantage of using grosgrain ribbon is that it retains its shape.
Related post : Different types of ribbons.
You need a moisture-wicking sweatband inside your hat. Usually an absorbent fabric like cotton is used to make the sweatbands; brushed suede is also used.
In the early 20th century feathers were very popular as embellishments for hats. They were used for a long time. Ostrich feathers, Aigrette feathers, and marabou Feathers were commonly used. Today feathers of less exotic birds are available in the market. You can also use synthetic feathers