Blog & Podcast

How to Pack a Hat Box

This is a pictorial on how to pack a basic hat in a hat box . This is appropriate for basic men and women’s hats. Unless you have a mother/aunt/grandmother who wore hats and used hat boxes or you worked in the industry, how are you suppose to know?

Check the Size

Choose the right size box is the first step.  Keep in mind that the hat is always the right size. 🙂 I am using the medium size, Hattin’ Around Hat Case, which is perfect for my grey fedora. The grey straw would better fit in the large Hat Case. If it is too snug of a fit, there isn’t enough space to create a protective impact zone with tissue paper. The gold trilby would be better in the small sized Hat Case.  If there is too much space you will need loads of extra tissue to keep it from moving around. The hat box dimensions are in the Hattin’ Around Hat Case link above.

It is all about the tissue

The tissue paper protects the crown while it supports the brim. You need to crumple & rumple the tissue to give it more body and structure. Don’t wad it into a hard ball or leave it too loose and floaty. I good medium amount of rumple is perfect.  

Always use acid free tissue but what about buffered, acid free tissue? There is a really good blog post about buffered vs. unbuffered storage materials, which discourages using buffered storage materials with protein based textiles such as wool, silk, and feathers, which are common in high quality hats.

Make a layer of rumpled tissue across the bottom of the hat box and around the sides, creating a nest for the hat.  Pack the crown with tissue to help it keep its shape. Settle the hat upside down into the nest. Add more tissue around the sides or if there are gaps. Finally, add another layer of tissue across the top to protect the hat from impact against the lid.  Packing a hat when there are large trimming elements to consider will have to wait for another blog post.

Finishing Touches

The use of a compliments slip was something I started doing since moving to the UK, but I like that it walks a line between formal letter head and a casual note. The compliements slip includes the important business contact details with space for a short personal note. I also like using a beautiful A5 (±1/2 Letter) photo marketing card.

The Hattin’ Around Hat Cases have durable, easy to use buckles to secure the lid. See my post on How to Assemble a Hat Box if you are using a flat pack cardboard hat box, as they frequently do not come with assembly instructions.

Connect the additional strap 

Hattin’ Around Hat Cases (small, medium & large) come with an additional strap that can be used to carry your hat case on your shoulder or on your back, which keeps your hands free and makes for easier travel. 

I will work on a follow up post that offers some tips on how to pack a hat with special trimming such as long feathers or large bows.

How to Assemble a Hat Box

Confusion and embarrassment may result the first time you try to assemble a flat pack cardboard hat box. Some people may make you feel silly for not knowing how, but cardboard flat pack hat boxes frequently do not come with instructions. Once you’ve done it a few times it much easier but threading the cord handle almost always requires a few moments of thought. I hope this pictorial makes it easier.

The three parts are the box, the cord handle and the lid. This box comes with a cord that has a flippy metal bit on the ends. 

Assemble The Box

Lay the box flat and notice which flap is smallest, it folds down first. The larger flap locks them both in place.

Start to open the box and turn it upside down. Start on one side and press the small flap down level with the base. This is the finesse part.  It takes a bit of pressure but try not to be too heavy handed. Then press the large flap down, until it sit on top of the small flap, then press until they pop through to the inside. The base will fold in a bit, but will come back into place.  Repeat on the other side.

Flip box over and make sure the flaps and the center of the base have all locked together securely.  

NOTE: Check to make sure this is the proper size box for the hat you are packing, before you go through the rest of the steps as it is much more efficient to store the boxes flat than assembled. If you picked the wrong size, go to the bottom and follow the directions for collapsing the box.

Attach The Cord Handle

I am sorry about the duct tape to support the holes. I have managed to tear at least one hole in all of my card board hat boxes, with no new pristine ones at hand when writing this post.

Start on the side with a single hole (A), this is the bottom when the box is standing on its side to be carried. Poke the cord through the hole from the outside to the inside.  Flip the metal bit perpendicular to secure it or tie a knot if there is no metal bit.

Take the other end of the cord over to the other side which has three holes. Thread the cord from the outside to the inside through the single hole (B) closest to the open edge of the box.

Thread the cord from the inside to the outside of the box in either remaining hole, but I’ve chosen (C). Once on the outside of the box, draw cord through long enough to thread back down into the final hole (D), across from the previous hole (C). Flip the metal bit perpendicular to secure the final end or tie a knot.

Assemble The Lid

Lay box lid decorative side down. The folding creases are in place to guide you. Fold up the three sides that have pointy flaps on the edges. Fold in the flappy pointy bits at the crease, just a little to follow the shape of the lid.

The remaining three flaps are folded twice. The first fold is from the body of the lid, then fold the flap in half in toward the inside of the lid. There is a little notch that will pop into a cut out on the lid body.  Often the factory cut cardboard piece is still in the hole, but will easily pop out. Repeat this process for all three sides.

Put It Together

Position the box on the table, pack the contents of the box. Place the lid with the stripes of the lid going in the same direction as the box. It is rare that the stripes line up precisely as I would like. There are two sides where the stripes go in the same direction, I like the side that is smooth and doesn’t have the cut out from the lid flap.

Pull up to cord at the handle carefully to not tear the holes.  The cord will secure the lid to the box when you hold the handle.  I think this is rather clever. If this doesn’t work, you have possibly threaded the cord handle incorrectly, see images below. You will need to re-thread the cord handle.

Success – you are good to go

Collapse The Box

Take the lid and the cord handle off the box. Flip the box upside down, the press down of the flap sides until they release the lock from the center base. Pull the largest flap out first, it is a little fiddly.  The smaller flap will follow easily.

Caution: A light weight hat in a large cardboard hat box will act like a kite in the wind. If you don’t want to whack your new box & hat on a nearby light post or worse a passerby following a gust of wind, you may need to hold the handle closer to the box and loop a finger through the cord that secures the lid.

Good luck.

Winter Markets 2017

Holiday Markets are lighting up everywhere.

Come visit myself (Leanne Fredrick Millinery) and some dear friends, Freeman-Birch Millinery, Hats by Clare Spicer and Climbing Rose Clothing at our tables on 24 & 25 November in South West London, UK and 1 December in Ewell, Epsom, UK.  
More market info

Winter Holiday Drawing on 15 December 2017 
Loads of ways to enter to win a place
in my London Hat Week 2018 Hatpin workshop.
More drawing info 

Winter Holiday Markets 2017

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 from 7 – 9:30 pm 
Ecole de Wix – Wix Lane, London SW4 0JA
with Freeman-Birch Millinery & Hats by Clare Spicer

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 from 12 – 4:00 pm
Church of the Holy Spirit – Narbonne Ave, London SW4 9JU
with  Freeman-Birch Millinery 

Fri, 1 Dec 2017 from 5 – 8:00 pm — 
Ewell Yule
Ewell High Street, Epsom KT17 1RX
with Climbing Rose Clothing 

A Taster of What we Make

Hats by Clare Spicer

 Freeman-Birch Millinery

Climbing Rose Clothing

Leanne Fredrick Millinery

Winter Holiday Drawing
Enter by 15 December 2017 at 12:00 pm GMT
for a place in Hatpins – How to, History, & Hair

Enter the drawing by signing up for the Hattin’ Around newsletter , visit our table at any of the above events and sign up, or sign up for one London Hat Week 2018 workshops (Hatpins, Petersham Ribbon, Cocktail Half Hat with wire frame). If you are already on my mailing list and want to be entered for the drawing, simply send me an email and I will put your name in the hat. 

before the 15 December 2017 at 12:00 pm GMT

My workshops provide hands-on learning of useful techniques. Take all three workshops or individual classes as your time permits.

I hope to see you soon.  Leanne

Getting Lucky in Ireland

My last visit to Ireland was February 1998, so when California friend, Laura, suggested we meet up there this Autumn, I was all in. Arriving at the Dublin airport, I was delighted to see a larger than life, image of milliner Martha Lynn, representing the craft of Millinery.  I love when millinery gets visibility, especially on a large scale.

Thanks for advice from my London friend, Lis, we went to Bray. It was the perfect balance of things to do without being a busy city. We enjoyed a couple days of coastal hiking, exploring, shopping and a few pints. 

I brought home a little treasure from Greystones Antiques. This simple little buckle I am sure will end up on a hat.

Laura and I headed north to enjoy the streets and treats of Dublin for a couple days before returning to our respective families. We grabbed the first Sightseeing bus we came to, for a quick tour of the highlights of Dublin, then it was time to go hat shop hunting.

I feel like I found the pot of gold on the first shop, which was Anthony Peto‘s hat shop. Thank you Anthony and Petra for taking time to talk to me without any notice.

Anthony’s main showroom and workshop are in Paris where employs a full team of skilled crafts people. His Paris business has been around for 25 years, while his Dublin shop has been open since 2015. Anthony Peto hats are stylish and well crafted. He offers a variety of styles for men and women. While grabbing the like to his site, I re-discovered this video showing one of Anthony’s team, making a strip straw hat in about 7 minutes.  Anthony Peto’s website news page. I would love to have one of those sewing machines and a straw spinner like he is using.

While trying to find another milliner in Powerscourt Centre, Dublin, I stumbled across a costume design exhibit called Frame 7 by Marion Cuddy.  There were some hats, which is always delight. I believe the milliner was Michael Mullins.
Nearby was milliner and fashion blogger Jennifer Wrynne’s boutique. She been a milliner since 2011 and opened the boutique in 2016. Her hats were primarily special event hats.

I love window displays that include headwear, especially when it is clever and creative. Thank You, Irelands Eye .  On a side note: I wish the fashion magazines did a better job of including headwear in their features.

Inspiring, brave and bold, Claire Garvey Couture makes crazy fun hats and clothes. Claire had recently bought her shop after 18 years in business. I think this is what she said, I was so agog looking at stuff I didn’t write it down. Congratulations Claire!

I feel very lucky to have met two amazing hat designers and visit their shops, made a couple of new friends (Kelly & Lynette) and most importantly, connected with my long time friend, Laura. Until next time, Ireland, Thank you.

Bridport Hat Festival 2017

Bridport is a small villiage in Dorset, in the south of England, just 1.5 miles from the English Channel. I had heard of the Bridport Hat Festival for several years and this year I finally entered images of a hat in the contest. I was delighted to have been shortlisted and sent in my hat for judging. I took the train/bus down from London on Friday afternoon in early September. If you can get a seat with a table,  long train rides are perfect for finishing a hat and meeting nice people.

There were hats in nearly every Bridport shop window and the charity shops had loads of hats for sale at great prices. Above are my favorite charity shop finds of the weekend, although I didn’t buy any of them. An eccentric grey hat by Pop Goes the Weasel, a lovely but far too small, white felt by Graham Smith for Fortnum & Mason. A Frederick Fox in a fawn with black ribbon & flower trim and another no-label hat with loads of stitching.

From Bridport I enjoyed a walk that lead me by the river then through three fields,  down to West Bay for the evening. (Images L-R, water mill by brewery-Bridport, Harbour West Bay, Dorset Coast – West Bay, Station Kitchen – West Bay). It was a gorgeous day and I savored a delicious dinner at the Station Kitchen. I appreciated a cozy night’s stay at a vegetarian B&B, The Old Mill House in Bridport.

The Old Mill House was not much to look at from the street, but had gracious hosts and a small bridge over the river in their serene garden.

The highlight is seeing the variety of hats. A lovely couple wore Twin Peaks, hemp hats from Kathmandu by Elephant Road, a couple in matching outfits, and my strip straw hat with wavy border and vintage flowers.  I think this hat below, a hand felted scene of Poseidon/Neptune was stunning. Can you see the horses coming out of the sea foam on the left and sea creatures following behind on the right?

The Bridport Hat Festival is a fundraiser for various charities. One of which is Brain Tumour Research. They seem to be at a lot of the events I attend. I like collecting their annual hat designer badges.

At one of the charity fundraising stands a gentleman was enjoying selling 2nd hand hats by coming up with some outrageous claims. I bantered with him a few moments, then just as I was ready to decline and depart, I saw another unlabeled stitched beret, in gold and it fit me. If you’ve been following my blog posts, I have come across several of them in my adventures in Southern England. Who made these hats? The price was right and it came home with me. 

More crazy hats from jesters to lampshades. A couple who went with a breakfast theme of a skillet with bacon & eggs and a large fried egg.  Hats with loads of stuff on them to a US political themed hat.

Then in the vendors hall I spotted this little wire framed gem. I will be teaching a wire frame half hat class during London Hat Week in 2018, Cocktail Half Hat with Daisies. It also came home with me, as another sample of how versatile the wire frame technique is to make charming hats.

The vendors hall featured several milliners and hat makers. Here are a few.  From Left to Right. Fairytale Chic, Humphry Hats, International Feltmakers Association, and Hats-A-Head. I love all their creativity and craftsmanship.

Finally, the catalyst for my journey the Milliners and Hatters Open Competition.  The hats were on display all day in the Town Hall. At the end of the day the hall was cleared, then set with chairs with a center aisle. Each hat was modeled and awards were given.  I didn’t bring home any prizes but it was fun to have my hat on display and then modeled at the end. The hat on the far right was the overall winner. I think they will eventually get photos of the hats on the Bridport Hat Festival website.

My learning opportunity came when the hats were modeled. Despite having a center back mark and comb for placement, my hat ended up backwards and on the wrong side of the model’s head. Luckily it looked beautiful from all sides, but it really would have shown better if it had been worn properly. Live and learn, next time I’ll make it super obvious. 

Bridport was a lovely town and we had great weather. I think it would be a good place to take my family for a little holiday in the future.  Thank you Bridport for a fun day out.

Cycling in Germany along the Danube

We did something new for this summer holiday. Cycling with family and friends along the Danube in Germany.  In my case it was Hattin’ Around the Danube.

How do you like the cycling caps I made for everyone? I used a free pattern by Dill Pickle. The pattern, instructions and caps were great, however I found the pattern ran a little small. Most of us needed the “large” and the 23.5″ (59.6 cm) head needed the “xl”. We used fabric pens to sign and decorate the caps.

Regensburg, Germany was a great place to start our trip. Architecture, history, river, good food and the start of what could be called the ice cream trail. It also had the best hats & hat shops of the trip.

HutKönig is a long establish hat shop with an excellent reputation and helpful staff. The couture felt hats were gorgeous. I loved the shapes, the colors and layered trims.

Take a look at their old glass tank steamer and hidden behind, a burgundy embosser with gold tape. Mental note, add embosser to the hatting/millinery equipment wish list.

I took loads of photos of hats, but this little miniature millinery shop was too cute to leave out of the post. They are made from real straw, felt and lace. I love digital zoom.

HutKönig actually had 5 hat blocks for sale. All of which were for small head sizes, but I can put a sock on it. I decided on this one after much deliberation.  I was hesitant to buy too many hat blocks on the first day of our trip, although the tour company moved our bags from place to place.

Lilo  is a marvelous small hat shop. Lilo, herself, was absolutely lovely and kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with me. Her hats are charming and her look is distinctive. I saw a few of her hats in boutiques elsewhere in Regensburg and recognized them as Lilo’s.

Straubbing, Germany was met with a hot and exhausted group of cyclists. I brightened up when I saw this adorable little fellow in a straw hat with his parents in the town square. 

I spotted one hat shop called Luise Danner der Hutladen, but sadly we were pedaling again the next morning before they opened.

Deggendorf, Germany was the smallest of the towns we stayed in. It was also the shortest day of cycling which is good as it had been very warm for this London based family. We arrived early enough to have a look about and the hat shop was still open.

Olga’s Hut und Mode was several rooms, upstairs with a friendly poster of Olga, pointing the way. Olga was in the shop and kindly allowed photos, but we had language issues. I told her about my blog and gave her a card, she nodded and then showed me a selection of blue hats. To be fair, blog starts with “B” and my card has a blue hat on it. If only I’d followed through with my Duolingo German lessons.

Passau, Germany is where the confluence of three rivers join, the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube. They are often represented by three colors, Green, Black and Blue respectively.

I located one hat shop, Edelweiss & Rosenrot but they didn’t want any photos inside the shop which is unfortunate as their displays were upholstered in bright green moiré.

It was a wonderful trip with loads of ice cream for the kids, a fair bit of käse spätzle (German style Mac n’ Cheese) which just might be my favorite german food and the guys enjoyed a little beer.  Fun, friends, family, cycling and hats. It was a good holiday.


Hattin’ Around Rye & Hastings, UK

It was suppose to be about camping, but for me it was about hats. A girls weekend away included a visit to Rye, Hastings and a camp out in the woods. 

Saturday on the way to the Wood, we stopped in Rye, an old town in South East England for a few hours.  Rye is one of the Cinque Ports and has a lovely old town center.

With lots of historic character, vintage shops and best of all the hat shop, Hearld & Heart.  You may recall the name Hearld & Heart from my interview with Jane Smith, they did the amazing hat that Andie McDowell wore in Four Weddings and a Funeral (94).

A few hats and thimbles in a small local museum, not the museum in the tower as they were hanging the closed sign as we approached the gate. 🙁  The Harlequin, a secondhand book shop, had two darling pink vintage hats.

I have not yet been able to embrace the loads of floppy petals, but I am trying.

I love that there is something different happening on each side of this dusty rose hat with velvet trim. It looks like Pinokpok to me, but I think it is actually parabuntal. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

I adore living in London, but a night out of the city is a welcome change. I love sleeping under the stars with a canopy of leaves overhead. Even being awoken with a cacophony of bird song at morning light is needed every once in a while.

Day two, we packed up and were off to Hastings.  The town known from the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It is a fishing & port town, popular for holiday getaways.

Wardrobe Clothes Agency had loads of vintage hats, every piece distinctly different. A white with black lace pillbox, a red and pink feather cocktail hat,  and a sheer brim on a wire frame with pearl details. 

I am completely enamored with the wire framed cocktail half hat. I will be teaching a workshop on this style of hat. Please sign up for the Hattin’ Around Newsletter  for the announcement of workshop dates.

The white silk with black stitching was my favorite. OMG look at all that stitching! The design is also very clever.

Wardrobe Clothes Agency (teal turban with bow) and Voodoo Sirens (black trilby with large ribbon bow), both are Edward Mann hats.  I really must do some research on him, as his nautilus hat was a huge inspiration for me.

It was my good fortune to be in Hasting when there was a Steam Punk event. Steam Punk folks do amazing costume.   A velvet top hat with goggles and feathers, a voodoo hat with a skeleton and crow, a red vinyl captains hat and a pith helmet with goggles are just a few of the hats on show. However, I saved the best for last. His nickname is Moose and he trimmed his own hat.  I believe he said there are 82 brass rivets. The craftsmanship was superb.

Thank you to Hatz and Thingz, for the tickets to the Steam Punk event. It was late in the day, he had three tickets available, and there were three of us with a little bit of time remaining before we needed to head back to London.  Hatz and Thingz is a new shop, offering both men’s and women’s hats and various vintage items and steam punk accessories.

The longest hatpin I’ve ever seen, ±33cm (13″) and a few hatpin holders.  Hatpins are another of my hat related fascinations.  Please sign up for the Hattin’ Around Newsletter,  a hatpins workshop will be coming soon as well. 

I hope you have enjoyed my few hatting highlights from Hastings and Rye.

KCC Millinery HNC 2017 Collections

Kensington & Chelsea College (KCC)
Higher National Certificate (HNC) Year End Collections 2017
Hosted on 1 June 2017 at Kensington & Chelsea College, London UK.

This year was another delightful exhibition of some talents new millinery designers. The nervous excitement could be felt throughout the room as the milliners stood beside their collections to meet, greet and answer questions about their work.  There were fabulous shapes and creative use of materials, everything you would hope to see at a millinery exhibit. The milliners are listed in order of how I walked around the room. Thank you for an inspirational evening. 

Natalia Volkova – Wild Orchids


Alex Thompson – Cabinet of Curiosities


Phoebe Leung – Phoebe Pheo Millinery – Lost Stars


Odette & Elliott – An Evening at the Opera


Teresa Briz – Mandala


Chelsea Ratcliffe – Micha Millinery – Cygnet Collection 


Irina Dobrovolska – Irina Bluebird Millinery – Meditation


Heather Ogilvie – Fibonacci


Gemma Fox – Gothic Allure


Hannah Lewis – Hatterly – Fluidity, Movement & Motion

Carole Denford of The Hat Magazine, was spotted at the event. That woman must have Hermione’s time turner from Harry Potter, because she is everywhere.

Farewell KCC, until next year. I couldn’t resist this lovely image of the Imperial Wharf Station looking toward the Design Center as dusk.

My pictures really do not do the hats  and head pieces justice. I would highly recommend that you come to the exhibit next year, it is open to the public. Congratulations milliners you are off to a great start. I hope to see you Hattin’ Around. LF

p.s. I have included links to website that were available on their cards at the event. If I have made any errors, please let me know.



My Birthday Hat – Mini Topper Sinamay

My life does not have nearly enough “occasion” hat wearing opportunities, so when I was approaching a milestone birthday I decided it was going to be a hat event.  A mini top hat (topper) would be perfect, festive and small enough for easy travel.

I have wanted to make a mini topper for ages. What is it about things in miniature that are so appealing? Beautiful dolls houses, tiny baby clothes, exquisite Fabergé eggs, even well made Barbie clothes I find intriguing. My hats isn’t super tiny, maybe I should call it a midi topper?

Without a firm plan in mind about trimming and nor a 5 piece top hat block, I set to learning how to make a mini topper in sinamay on a buckram and wire framed block, with the mentoring of Edwina Ibbotson during her evening Hat Class.  The mystery was how to get it off the block once it is has dried and been stiffened. If you practicing millinery, you will notice the under cut of a waisted topper as a red flag. Unless you use a 5 piece block that you can take the block apart to extract it from the hat rather than pry the hat off the block, an under cut means you either carefully cut the hat, or destroy the block, neither seemed a good choice for a sinamay hat.

What I Learned…

      • To get the hat off the block without damaging the block or creating a cut edge on the straw, wrap the straw to meet in the back then fold the raw edges to the outside on the first layer. It is tricky to get it to butt together and stay put. I used lots of pins. The second and third layers are butted with the ends folded to the inside. Also use a wide petersham ribbon to hold the waist in while dries. Once off the block you have to sew each layer closed. Starting with the inside layer.

    • It is made in three pieces, the brim, the crown and the tip (top of the crown), make sure you mark the matching up points, especially for the “round” crown & “round” tip.
    • Making a band for an asymmetrical hat with extreme and changing angles is really difficult. I finally fashioned a pattern out of some bias muslin. It was not perfect but that is okay. I used the flaws to guide some of the flower placement.

  • Working within the hat to make invisible stitches between the layers was challenging.  I feel good about the quality of finish I achieved.
Inside finish with covered seams.
Outside wired edge finished with a bias band.

There are lots of steam punk mini toppers which are fun, but I was looking for something lighter. I have a thing for grey and I had some amazing silver little wired stamens from Masario, which I was hankering to use. I had some leftover grey silk georgette that I loved working with on a previous project and experimented to create little bias cut flowers with a dusty pink bead for the center to add just a hint of warmth.

I was sewing the last bits on just an hour before my birthday party. I am delighted with the result.

I have since carved a mini topper block myself and made a variation in felt. It is a different technique with felt. Hopefully I can do a “What I Learned…” for that hat soon.

I would love hear if you have ideas on how to work with an undercut hat block.

Cheers, Leanne