The Classic Book on Millinery

Front Cover

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, written and published by Denise Dreher, is the most complete and unique book on millinery to date. It can be used as a method of self instruction, as a classroom textbook or as a reference guide. All of the hatmaking techniques are explained step-by-step and clearly illustrated by more than four hundred photographs and drawings. Professional millinery supplies, methods, materials and equipment are described and illustrated in detail with substitutes and improvised methods included for milliners with limited resources and budgets. No prior knowledge of hatmaking has been assumed. Even if you have never held a needle and thread before, you can, through careful application of the lessons in this book, make your own handmade hats either with or without the aid of a sewing machine.

By studying this book you will learn how to make a well-fitting hat pattern, construct and cover a foundation, make your own trim, and insert a lining. You will be introduced to the more advanced millinery methods of hat design, manipulating felt, sewing straw and draping fabric. In addition, you will learn valuable professional tricks used to make hats that will amaze you with their simplicity and effective results.

From the Neck Up will teach you not only how to make new hats, but also how to restore and remodel vintage old ones. Felt and straw hats can be easily cleaned and re-shaped, other hats can be re-trimmed and their imperfections disguised by a bit of veil or a feather. Once you learn to recognize quality materials you will be able to pick up old hats at thrift stores or garage sales and remodel them for personal use, fashion or costuming.

Included in the book are sixty 1/4″ scale historical and modern hat patterns for men and women including Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Baroque, Restoration, Edwardian, Victorian and Modern.

The book is further enhanced by a complete list of millinery supplies needed to stock a professional workroom along with the addresses of suppliers. With a well researched glossary and a comprehensive bibliography, From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking is an invaluable guide for experienced and amateur milliners interested in designing, making or wearing hats, whether for theater, film, formal or street wear. It is especially useful for fashion design, bridal wear, theatrical costumes, historical reenactment, science fiction, fantasy costumes and fancy dress headwear.

Advantages to Making Your Own Hats

When you make your hats yourself you get exactly what you want. You choose the shape, the fabric and the trim; you combine colors and textures to complement your wardrobe and you create a custom design suited to your appearance and your personality. There is also the advantage of getting a perfect fit. How often have you tried on just the right hat in a store only to find it wouldn’t stay on your head; the brim needed to be wider or the crown higher. No two heads are exactly alike, and mass-produced hats can only generalize on sizes. Making your own hats can save money too, especially if you sew and have scraps of fabric that would otherwise be thrown away.

According to the author, Denise Dreher, “Making your own hats can be a very satisfying creative outlet. It gives you a chance to express your ideas and develop your sense of design. Even when using a basic hat pattern, you still shape the brim, choose the fabric, and arrange the trimmings with your own unique touch. A special sense of pride and pleasure is inherent in being able to say, ‘I made it myself.’ Anyone who has ever made anything, from baking a cake to building a bridge, knows the inner reward and feeling accompanying that work. And wearing a unique handmade hat can be even more fun than making it!”

Used as a textbook in college classes, costume shops and fashion institutes, From the Neck Up has become a classic in the field of period and modern millinery. It’s the perfect reference book for learning millinery, the art of making custom designed felt, straw and fabric hats by hand.