Head sizing is not as simple as wrapping a tape measure around your clients head. Firstly we need to recognise how sensitive the skull is as it is so close to the nerve centre, the brain with so many nerve endings. This may mean that a hat you have made perfectly sized to fit a person with 58cm head may feel too tight to this person although you can internally check measure to be exact. ( The average head size for commercial hats is recognised at 57cm. ) It is all because of their head nerve sensitivity. Ask client, "Does that feel comfortable or too tight?"

Some headbands give clients ‘Headband Headache.” Again this is due to the nerve ending sensitivity although you have personalised the sizing and shape of the band. These customers will always prefer a hat elastic & comb in preference to an Alice band. We need to listen to the customer in this regard as they have to wear the headpiece/hat for a lengthy period. 

To measure the head size pass the tape around the fullest part of head which is over the brow and the biggest bulge at the back of the head plus pop the tip only of your little finger under the tape to allow for extra size to include a lining and head band. This is sufficient unless if they want a deep cloche crown. For this you need to measure from the brow over top of head to the depth at centre back plus the measure from top of ear to opposite side. (see diagram) You must then apply these measurements to the block and ensure the block is the shape to hug their head. If you are making a shallow crown for a boater hat which is only perched on top of the head there is no need for this side measurement and likewise for a mad-hatter crown it is not necessary, as there is plenty of spare room in this widened crown shape to allow comfort for any shaped head.

Fortunately some of the components we use in millinery allow for alteration of the blocked crown in the middle of manufacture of the hat. For a crown in buckram or sinamay just gently stretch on the corners where there is folding, to ease out the size then place over the collar to fit flat but do not over stretch as that is a bigger problem! Once the crown is attached to the brim, try the hat on the correct size block before the liner and ribbon band are added. The hat should just slip around on your crown block. A puff of steam & place on your block for half hour will help it stretch sufficiently. 

When making a Felt hat with wire inside crown, to keep the sizing in place remember that takes up room and can tighten the size – you definitely need to ease out the crown prior to wiring. Again some clients do not like the bulk of the wire inside a felt hat due to head nerve sensitivity, so do not add wire to crown in the hat making process.
Keep trying the hat on your head as you progress, if it is your hat size or try putting over crown block to check tip of small finger fits so you do not make it too tight as you have yet to add band and lining.

» Discover inspirational techniques from Louise Macdonald

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