How to make a removable ribbon hat band – tutorial, Part 1

Hi, I wrote a three millinery tutorials as a guest blogger for Britex Fabrics over the summer. I’m going to repost them here over the next few days or so. I wrote two posts on how to make a removable ribbon hat band and a post on a lace hat. Here’s the first one, along with some additional information about Petersham ribbon and made a few minor changes.


I’ve had this hat for years and then the hat band began to show some unfortunate discoloration. It turns out the manufacturer used a double-sided adhesive to attach the hat band to the hat. The adhesive became greasy and leaked through the ribbon. A high quality hat would not use adhesive of any kind. I got it because I liked the shape and the small brim. It goes with a lot of my wardrobe. My solution was to remove the old hat band and the adhesive and make a removable replacement hat band. I decided to make two. This is the first one.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

My first step was to choose my Petersham ribbon. Petersham is a type of ribbon that has little notches or scallops on the edges that enable it to go around a curve (see photo below). You can manipulate Petersham so it goes around a curve and lays flat against the crown of the hat (the part that covers the head) as you’ll see in this tutorial. You could also be use Petersham along the edge of a hat brim to add a contrasting color.

Grosgrain ribbon looks similar to Petersham but the edges are straight and it isn’t as flexible as Petersham. However, if you find a 100 percent cotton grosgrain, you could get it to curve if you press it with a hot iron. But most grosgrain ribbon is polyester. It’s really best suited to straight edges.

A milliner I know refers to Petersham as grosgrain. Among hat makers, Petersham is sometimes called grosgrain but it’s millinery grosgrain.

Britex has a huge selection of Petersham in solid colors and even striped Petersham, which isn’t as common as the solids. Most of the Petersham they carry is 100 percent rayon.

I just saw on the website of Judith M Millinery Supply House that the U.S. factory that makes 50 percent cotton / 50 percent rayon has closed. So Judith M will gradually be running out. Bummer. You can see their current stock here. The company is letting people buy up to one 50-yard roll per customer but some ribbons are only available by the yard.

Judith M has found a European company that makes a 56 percent cotton / 44 percent rayon Petersham but says there “will be a significant price increase.” 🙁 I have to admit when I read that, I thought, I must buy some Petersham now! But I don’t make that many hats so it doesn’t really make sense to stockpile 50 yards of Petersham.) But I digress – back to the tutorial…

Here’s the ribbon I selected for the first hat band: A solid gray, 1.5 inch width of Petersham. (Note the scalloped edge.)

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

First I measured the crown of the hat at the widest part – about 23 inches there. Make sure your tape measure is at the same level around the widest part of the crown, where the ribbon will go. I moved it slightly up so you could see the measurement. Cut a length of ribbon the circumference of the crown plus two inches. You won’t need more than an inch or so extra but you can always trim the excess. I like to have a little extra for safety.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - measuring the crown - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

When you put the ribbon around the crown, it won’t lay flat because the crown is wider at the bottom. You will have a slight gap at the top of the ribbon, like this photo.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

To make your ribbon lie flat, you gently stretch the bottom edge of the ribbon as you press it with your steam iron. Start at the center and pull it to one side and then repeat on the other side in the opposite direction. You just want it to be slightly wider at the bottom, about 1/8 inch on each side of the ribbon. Don’t forget to use a press cloth to protect the ribbon. If you don’t it could get shiny. I used a scrap of organza as my press cloth.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - pressing the Petersham ribbon - tutorial, millinery

Now the ribbon will lay flat against the crown because of the slight stretch you gave it. Look, no gap!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I had two yards of the ribbon. The extra yard was for the embellishment that would cover where the hat band pieces join.

I usually hand stitch the hat band in place where the ribbon ends join and tack it to the hat. The next time you see a ribbon on a hat, check out how it’s attached. It’s usually tacked in place with a few stitches – or in the case of a cheap hat, some adhesive is used. To make a removable ribbon hat band, I decided to use elastic to join the ribbon ends. My initial idea was to attach a small piece of wide elastic to one end of the ribbon and use a hook and eye to attach the ends. To hide the hook and eye, I’d create an embellishment from the rest of the ribbon.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I knew the ribbon ends needed to be sturdy to handle the stress of the hook and eye and elastic. With this in mind, I folded over each ribbon end twice so, about 5/8″ with each fold, sewing the folds in place. I attached the elastic to one side and hand sewed the hook to the elastic. In the photo above, I marked the ribbon for where the eye would go. But I discovered that the ribbon didn’t lie flat where the hook and eye attached. So I scrapped that idea and decided to just sew the ribbon ends to the wide elastic (a little over an inch wide) – like a headband.

I removed the hook and eye. Then I put the ribbon around the crown and used a marking pencil to mark where the other side of the ribbon ended on the elastic, and sewed it down. You can see the pencil mark below. I used dark thread so I could show the stitch lines in this tutorial. Normally I would use thread that matches the ribbon.

Tutorial- how to make a removable ribbon hat band - Petersham, millinery

The gap between the two ribbon ends is a little wider than I would like but that’s because I started out with the hook and eye idea. Note: The exposed elastic is slightly wider at the bottom to accommodate the curve.

Next up: The embellishment to hide the elastic and the stitch lines. It’s fun to play around with ribbon pleating to come up with a design. I didn’t want to do a traditional bow.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I made some folds, held it in place with pins, and put it against the hat to see how it would look. You want something that is in proportion to the hat. I think this is a little too big and busy given the size of the hat. If the hat had a wider brim, this might work but it’s too much for this hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

So I removed one pleat on the left and made the pleats smaller so it looked like this. The center of the ribbon is about six inches of the ribbon tightly rolled. I used my finger to push up the ribbon so it sticks out at the top, which makes it stand out a little more.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I hand stitched that center roll in place, sewing through all the pleats. Then I sewed the embellishment to the ribbon band, just in front of the elastic.

Tutorial: How to make a removable ribbon hat band - Petersham ribbon, millinery

And here’s the completed removable ribbon hat band on the hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

And here I am wearing the hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I really like this ribbon and I get compliments whenever I wear it. I love that I can switch ribbons on this hat. The other ribbon is a black-and-white striped one, which is a completely different look from this one. I’ll post that tutorial soon.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, Petersham ribbon, millinery, hats

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