Build a Base Workshop

I recently had the honor and fun experience of moderating a panel for Emerald City Comic Con. Two friends and I spoke about how to build bases for fantasy headdresses. Belle of Boring Sidney Hats and my friend/piano instructor/all around Renaissance woman Connie helped me out.

We talked about millinery materials that make strong structural bases, showed hats that had been made with each base, and passed around samples. Two brave volunteers came and tried Fosshape and Wonderflex in front of the group, coming up with very workable hat bases on the fly.

We had prepared samples and information sheets for 30 people and ended up with well over 100 in attendance! So for those who didn’t get the information sheet here it is:

Material Pros and Cons


Infinitely flexible, inexpensive

Needs more layers to cover up, not good for solid shapes

Crown Buckram

Very sturdy, sewable, moldable to small degree

Not as flexible as other materials, difficult to find

Heavy Buckram

Moderately strong, sewable, easy to shape and block

Not as sturdy, might have to cut and splice to follow deep 3-D curves


Very flexible, easy to work with, sewable, paintable

Not as sturdy, more expensive


Moderately moldable, very strong and rigid

Can’t sew through it, more expensive, must splice for deep shapes

Needlepoint canvas

Cheap, sturdy, great for flat shapes or one way curves

Not moldable in 3 dimensions


 Suppliers:  Millinery importer/exporter.  Based in Hood River OR, so shipping is fast.  Orders placed in the morning usually go out the same day.  Buckram, fosshape, wonderflex, felts, wire, pretty much everything you need.  $75 minimum order.  Hatmakers supply.  No minimum order, but prices are a little higher than hatsupply.  This is where I go if hatsupply doesn’t have what I need.  An Australian company but with warehouses in the US so shipping is reasonable. 

Crystal Taggart