Finished: My First Hand Blocked 1930s Hat

burgundy late 1930s hat

I apologise for the lack of posts just recently but I’ve got a lot going on and something had to give and that was the blog. Unfortunately things are still rather chaotic (it didn’t help when my fridge/freezer decided to die at 5.30 on Monday morning!), so I can’t guarantee things will improve going forward. However, I do promise to try!

At the weekend I did manage to get a few photos taken of my very first hand blocked hat. I’ve been wanting to show you this for a while as it was actually finished ages ago. It’s vaguely based on an original 1930s hat that I already own, created very simply as one piece, rather than a separate crown and brim. The design I had in mind when starting this is a little different to how it turned out but, as it just seemed to take on a life of its own as I was doing it, I decided to go with it rather than fighting it.

1930s hats advert

It was fairly simple to do by stretching just the crown section on the hat block and rolling my blocking spring down to the bottom of where I wanted the crown part to stop. Once it was dry I set about pressing the brim section out covering it with a damp tea towel and using my steam iron. Again it was pretty simple to do, it just needed a bit of muscle to get it to stretch out.

As I was in the middle of doing it I remembered a cute detail I’d seen on the brim of hat on Pinterest. After a quick check on my profile I realised that I had thankfully pinned it to my Hats board, which saved me a job of trolling through tons of images. The hat in question is the one at the top left with the split in the brim and I liked how the bow was falling through the gap.

burgundy late 1930s hat - side

As I lifted up my scissors I stopped for a moment, a little nervous about cutting into my first ever hat, but then I thought ‘hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained’. The whole process of doing this one was just to see if I could, so what the hell? And actually I’m pretty pleased how this detail turned out. It’s not exactly like the one above but it still works.

When I initially added the velvet trim I had a long bow the same as the 1930s hat and but it just didn’t look right. I think it was mostly to do with the way I wear my hair. I always tilt hats to the side where I have less hair but I always tend to tuck that side of my hair behind my ear. So when I put the hat on it just looked like I was trying to cover up my ear with the bow! It just didn’t work, so I made it a nice neat bow instead.

I left the edges of the brim completely plain, with no wiring or trim, mainly because most of my true vintage hats are like this. I think it makes it look quite authentic and more homemade, which I actually like. I know the brim would sit more even, and I’d have more control over it, if it was wired but I think that’s a technique I’ll learn on another hat.

Late 1930s burgundy hat

Once the hat was all completed I realised that it looked really lovely turned around and sat on the back of my head like a halo hat. I think I actually prefer it this way as it really frames my face. It’s inspired me to make another one to go with a late 1930s dress I’ve recently made (yes, I know I need to photograph it!) and I want to make it similar to the gorgeous heart shaped halo hat that my Instagram friend, Sarah, wears. Seriously how adorable is that hat?

burgundy late 1930s hat - side

I really enjoyed making this hat. It hasn’t gripped me quite as much as crocheting did but I think it’s more about not having enough time to fit everything in that’s stopping me from instantly making more. I have lots of other ideas, so I will definitely continue to explore this side of crafting.

I’m actually off to a fascinator workshop at the beginning of next month, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m not really sure what sort of design I want to try and make but I did buy some vintage feathers at the weekend which I’d like to incorporate. If anyone has ideas for vintage looking (particularly 1930s) fascinators I’d be very interested to see any.


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


    • Thank you Elaine! Yes, I was surprised it went with the blouse as the burgundy of the hat can look quite bluey in some lights. xx

  1. Congrats, Cate! This is such amazing work for your first blocked hat, especially working by yourself. It is such a cute shape and I love the detail you chose for it. It really does look cute worn either way too – I recently sold a heart shaped vintage halo hat and it was adorable – definitely something to try. Again, well done and how exciting!

    • Aw, thank you Tanith, that means so much. It’s great to get such enthusiastic encouragement from someone as talented as you! I’m looking forward to doing the next one xx

    • Thank you Louise! Yes, I’m pretty chuffed how well it turned out. xx

  2. You are a girl of many talents, Cate. How fabulous to be able to make your own hats, and you can be proud of your first effort. The split is such a great idea, but I can understand you must have been nervous making that cut. I’m sure we’ll see more of your hats in times to come! xxx

    • Aw, thank you Ann! I have so many different crafting things I still want to try, I just wish I had the time to fit them all in! xx

  3. How wonderful! I love a versatile hat – it looks fabulous on you no matter which way you wear it. It would be fascinating to see photos of how you make the next one, if you have the time to do it. (I dream of finding a hat block in a charity shop one day, but it hasn’t happened so far!)

    Enjoy wearing your gorgeous hat. 🙂

    • Thank you Katie! My block is a vintage one that I asked for as a Christmas present. I knew it would be one of those things I’d never splash out for myself (there’s too much fabric, yarn and vintage clothing to be bought!) so this was the only way of actually getting one. You need to make sure it’s your size too, so even if you did manage to find one in a charity shop it might be too small or too big. xx

  4. I was excited to see this post a couple of days ago but have only just got around to reading it properly! You should be very pleased with yourself, that’s a smashing job. It’s sort of boggling to me that you can make a hat like this, it seems very complicated and magical! I like the hat both ways, but I particularly like the halo style, I’ve had a soft spot for the style ever since I saw Amy Adams in Miss Pettigrew.
    I hope that you can reclaim a bit more time for yourself over the coming weeks, and that all electrical appliances start behaving themselves! x

    • Thank you Sarah! I used to think hat making was very complicated and magical until I actually started looking into it and to be honest, to make a wearable homemade hat it’s actually not that hard. Yes, the amazing professional milliners do things I wouldn’t even know where to start doing but I have no ambitions to become that good! It was actually when I bought my 1930s hat (that has a slight resemblance to Delysia’s gorgeous hat) that I realised you could achieve something pretty without too much effort as it’s such a simple construction. xx

  5. I can’t wait to see how your next hat turns out! That little halo hat gets the most wear of any of my hats. 🙂

    You have done a fabulous job with this one, it looks lovely!! <3

    • Thank you Sarah, and thanks for the inspiration! I do love that hat, it’s incredibly cute xx

  6. That is a really smashing hat – it looks so good with your blouse. Even if hatmaking doesn’t grip you as much as crocheting, it’s got to be good to have a skill that enables you to make even more of your wardobe.

    • Thanks Mim! Yes, it’s definitely a good skill to have, especially when I find a hat that doesn’t fit my big head. I can then just make my own! xx

  7. What a fantastic Job! Congrats on all your hard work, I just love it 🙂 I look forward to seeing what kind of fasinators you will make now as well.

    • Oh thank you Liz! I’m still not sure what I’m going to do in terms of the fascinator, it’s not something I’ve ever worn before, but it should be fun and a great learning experience. xx

  8. What a gorgeous hat! I love the little cut V detail that you have added. And your right, tipped back, the rim frames your face perfectly! I haven’t ventured into hat making before, only little fascinators, but they are such fun to do, I’m sure you will really enjoy your workshop!

    • Thanks Christina! I’m looking forward to the fascinator course, it’ll be something different for me to play with. I hoping I pick up a few more techniques I can transfer to hat making too. xx

  9. Super lovely hat! I love the snip in the brim, it seems so deco! One day soon here I just have to get myself a hat size block, I’d love to make hats like this.

    • Thank you Bianca! You should definitely get one, I just know you’ll love doing this. I can just imagine all of the wonderful creations you would come up with xx

  10. I love the hat, and it goes perfectly with that charming blouse. However, I prefer the notch on the side, not the front … but that’s the fun of it; you can wear it either way!

    • Thank you Meg. Oh absolutely, I know that one day I’ll like it on the side and another I’ll much prefer it at the front. It’s great to have the option! xx

  11. The hat looks amazing, especially paired with that plum lipstick and collar lining. It’s classic pieces like this that really transport you back in time. It’s really interesting to hear about the creative process also, thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Francesca! Yes, I was amazed at how well it went with everything else as sometimes it looks much more blue and darker than other burgundy pieces I have.

  12. Such a loovely hat! Haha and I know all too well, cutting (the felt) is one of the scariest things there is in the process of hatmaking, but if you don’t cut it, you’ll never know if it works! So good on you for going for it!

    On a side-note, came across this 1930s magazine and the women on the cover reminded me so much of you!:

    Regards, stubborn_modishness

    • Thank you Inge! Yes, I just thought what the hell, if it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Oh thank you for the link, not that I need any encouragement to spend money on Etsy! 🙂 I see they have a few of those magazines and I’m rather tempted.

      And I just realised I wasn’t following you back on Instagram. I am sorry, sometimes I miss the notification when someone follows me. All rectified now though! xx

      • Hi Cate! Haha oh I know, it’s a terribly seductive website, I’ve had times when I often got the message that I couldn’t add any more items to my shopping cart because it was full, and it goes up to 99 items so… 😉
        Luckily for my wallet I mostly emptied the shopping cart by ‘save for later’ instead of ‘proceed to checkout’ :p

        Ah that’s nice! Thank you! 🙂

  13. Such a fabulous hat! I am so impressed that you made it yourself. Love the colour and the versatility. I really like the halo style on you, it suits you wonderfully. I look forward to seeing your next one.

    • Oh, thank you Kate-Em! I’m already working on my next one although I’m struggling to figure out how to shape the brim how I want it. xx

  14. Really amazing the color looks gorgeous on you I love it!

    Kate Kitsch, formerly retro rover

    • Thank you Kate! I look forward to seeing your posts on the new blog xx

  15. That hat looks fantastic! It also looks rather complicated at first glance. I thought, “wow, that’s ambitious for a first hat!” I would love to learn to make felt blocked hats. Right now I’m limited to hats that can be knitted, crocheted, or sewn.

    • It’s surprisingly a lot easier than it looks. Okay, so it’s more home made than professionally done but it does the job. You should give it a try, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. xx

  16. Lovely! I’m so impressed! I really want to learn to make my own hats and this post makes me want to learn how even more!

    • Aw, thank you! It’s a lot easier than I had imagined. I’d highly recommend getting yourself a hat block and doing some research into how it’s done. xx

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