Covered hat requirements

The four main covered hat requirements are:-

Foundation Canvas or net

Hat wire


Hat block

Foundation nets for covered hats.

Most covered hats require a foundation on which to build the hat. Because a hat is usually structured it needs to be sturdy, but pliable. It should also be light in weight. The most used commercial blocking nets (or canvas) are:-

777 canvas

20/20 Canvas

Stiff elastic Canvas





Paris Net


Shape-well Interlining


Deciding the weight of the canvas is as important as the fabric to be used. It is not wise to make any hat too heavy, but the use of appropriate net or canvas will be determined by the fabric chosen for the hat.

It appears to me that different parts of the world have different names for millinery supplies, and foundation canvases seem to be most likely, even though it is exactly the same product.

Among the covered hat requirements list of Millinery canvases and blocking foundations, as I know them, are:-

777 CANVAS is a closely woven net suitable for blocking some crowns and brimsIt is particularly good for flat brims and smaller crowns.

20/20 CANVAS is a slightly more open weave but has more sizing. It too is suitable for blocking some crowns and brims.

The two (777 & 20/20) worked together give a really firm foundation, especially on larger crowns and brims. Each of these need to be place on the bias - centre front to centre back.

STIFF ELASTIC CANVAS has much more movement and works well when blocking rolled or breton brims.

SOMIC is a more open weave giving more movement when blocking. The actual material is thicker, almost like a fine string, and is quite stiff in comparison to the above canvases.

SPARTERIE is made from willow. One direction of weave is slightly wider than the other and it is glued to a gauze on the upper side. This is a rather expensive foundation material, but is well worth it for large shaped brims. It has heaps of pliability and keeps it shape well.

LENO is a rather fine gauzy canvas used for soft and small hats.

BUCKRAM is a close weave, rather stiff foundation material. It is very good for flat pattern construction but doesn't steam-block well. However, the name "Buckram" seems to cover an array of blocking canvas, so you may find one stockist label a blocking canvas as Buckram, and the next stockist refers to Buckram as something quite different, which can only add to the confusion.

PARIS NET is a fairly open weave foundation material. It is woven on the bias so should be placed accordingly. The open weave allows it to be more flexible and will block with relative ease. Light weight hats, e.g. pillbox would react well, however, for a firmer foundation, it can also be used double thickness to create more strength.

CRINOLINE is a stiffened braid woven on the bias and is 3"", 4", or 6" wide, although, I have seen some wider crinoline, but it wasn't strictly designed for millinery. It was originally made from horsehair but it now a man made fibre. Crinoline, along with shapewell interfacing, make a good weightless stiffening for bows and trims.

The fabric, another covered hat requirement, should be light weight, slightly flexible and needs to be molded to shape to take the form of the hat structure. To see what fabrics work best to cover your hat go to my page.

The following millinery supplies are used in most hat making techniques, so are not exclusively covered hat requirements:-

Hat wire.

Wire is a basic covered hat requirement and is used in hats to enable the hat to be worn and worn well without loss of shape. Some shapes may require the wire to create the shape. Millinery wire is usually covered, whether it be coated with a plastic coating, looking rather like paint, or paper covered, or cotton covered. Each have there place in the process of hatmaking, but the cotton covered is most used.

Plastic coated wire is often found in commercially made hats and is probably cheaper. It is not easy to control or join and is usually finer than cotton or paper covered.

Paper covered wire is used for assembling some floral headpieces or hat decorations where silk flowers and the like needs support or shaping.

Cotton covered wire is actually as described, it is covered by threads of cotton wound round the wire. The purpose for this is to allow a good grip when joining or applying to other materials. The most common cotton covered wire is a thicker gauge (white only) available on the market, but a finer wire (Black and white) is available, but not readily avaiable.

The wire needs to be kept in its coil and coaxed to straightness by running it through your fingers. Kinks should be avoided unless to form particular shapes.


Most foundations require some sort of stiffening to increase its rigidity. It can be extremely disappointing to complete a hat using all the covered hat requirements and realize that the foundation isn't going to hold up to expectations, simply because it needed more stiffening.

Most of the foundation canvases are stiffened with Felt and Straw Sizing, which is a commercially produced stiffener especially manufactured for hat making. Some materials required maximum stiffness (not necessarily foundations) and these could be stiffened with PVC Glue such as Aquadhere. This dries clear and can work quite well on sheer type materials.

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