Here are some of the more common millinery terms and their explanations

A hat is a head covering

It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status

Women wore veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps and wimples. Structured hats for women similar to those of male courtiers began to be worn in the late 16th century

In the first half of the 19th century, women wore bonnets that gradually became larger, decorated with ribbons, flowers, feathers, and gauze trims. By the end of the century, many other styles were introduced, among them hats with wide brims and flat crowns, the flower pot and the toque. By the middle of the 1920s, when women began to cut their hair short, they chose hats that hugged the head like a helmet

Since the early 21st century, flamboyant hats have made a comeback, with a new wave of competitive young milliners. Some new hat collections have been described as “wearable sculpture.” Many pop stars, among them Lady Gaga, have commissioned hats as publicity stunts

The term ‘milliner’ comes from the Italian city of Milan, where the best quality hats were made in the 18th century. Millinery was traditionally a woman’s occupation, with the milliner not only creating hats and bonnets but also choosing lace, trimmings and accessories to complete an outfit

A plant (Musa textilis) grown in the Philippines that produces the fibre used in the production of sisal and sinamay

A wooden form used as a mould to shape, by hand a brim or crown

The term used to describe the action of molding a hat shape

Projecting edge of a hat

Stiff netting used to make hats. May be blocked or sewn. Once used by milliners to make blocks for limited use

Roughly shaped crown and brim of felt or straw, to be blocked into hat shape

Preliminary treatment of wool or fur with acids, to curl the hairs. Produces a reddish-yellow colour which is the origin of the name

This straw is thick and coarse and although can be dyed to colour, is usually seen in its natural colour, golden brown. It is often used to make cheaper hats, it is hard wearing and if stiffened, hard to the touch, it has the smell of corn. This straw is easy to shape and difficult to sew

Hats that people are most likely to see in hat shops, department stores and any other shops that sell hats. They can be offered at many different levels of quality and design, ranging from low to mid price levels. The hats are mostly massed produced, blocked on gas pans, sometimes made and trimmed with materials of a lower quality. The trims are often attached by glue gun as opposed to sewing. These hats are worn for many reasons, often worn by ladies that have an occasion to go to, but do not wear hats regularly. Other hats in this category are practical and sometimes casual. They offer good value for money to the occasional wearer. Price is an important factor to the customers of these hats

Item of dress worn on the head, from a word of Saxon origin meaning hood

This hood is woven with a natural material similar to thick string. It is loosely woven and naturally soft. It has to be varnished heavily in order to keep its shape after blocking. When made into a hat, it is light and cool to wear and allows air to pass easily through the weave. It can be dyed, but colors are pastel in shade

Artisan who makes and sells hats

The craft of making hats

Short fibers extending above the surface of cloth, fabric or felt, creating a soft, downy effect such as on velvet

A two over two weave of sisal fiber used to make cones and capelines. Available in 5 grades, depending on the fineness of the fiber. It is lightweight, resilient and takes dye well

A fine, high quality natural straw made from sisal, bleached or dyed to colour, comes in grades from one through to five. Normally reserved for expensive hats. Delicate in texture but resilient in wear, takes dye well. Parasisal is made using two over two weave

Rubbing down the outside of felt hats with pumice stone, sand paper or emery paper to produce a very smooth surface

A natural straw from Madagascar, the Raffia palm or its leaf-bast. Available in cones, capelines, braids and hanks

This straw from Madagascar is widely use for the production of budget hats. Heavy to look at it is a casual straw and much used for beach hats

Small wired instrument to raise nap on felt

A stiff thick straw with a green coloring, normally left in its natural form, again cool to look at and wear. Smells of cut grass

A plant grown in the Philippines, then the fibers are woven into sheet or hood forms

Comes in two forms, flat sheet and loosely woven hoods, made from Abaca fibre (Musa textilis). Both types need stiffening before it can be blocked. Sheet sinamay hats are made from a number of layers and are blocked using the same method as fabric covered hats. Woven hoods are blocked using traditional metal pans

Very similar to double wheat, made from the same basic straw, but the strands are flatter. Also used for cheaper hats and dyed to colour. Both single and double wheat straws are natural

Comes from the fibre of the Abaca (Musa textilis) and is used to make cones, capelines and woven fabric

The same as above but using a one over one weave, less popular than parasisal and just a little coarser

Originally gum Arabic, mucilage, shellac or gelatin, now superseded by cellulose or pva based chemicals. It is applied by hand or dipped to stiffen felt or straw

Patron saint of Milliners in France, +307A.D., celebrated in November

Third Bishop of Rome, + c. 100 A.D. Patron saint of hatters in England, celebrated November 23. By tradition, the discoverer of felt

Capeline made of an oriental straw

This is a very popular straw and comes in a number of forms, including natural, skin of xian, twisted xian (or seagrass) and bleached. Often associated with beach or holiday hats, this useful straw can also be stiffened and be used in the production of mid quality hats. In its natural condition it is soft and has an irregular light brown colour with a smell of paper, a natural straw