How to Keep Your Hat on Your Head with Hat Elastics

black elastic cord -

hat elastic inserted -

If you like hats, even if you only  wear one a few times a year, you don’t want it to blow off your head on a windy day. Nothing’s worse than chasing your hat down the sidewalk or watching it drift into traffic (yes, that’s happened to me). To keep your hat on your head, you can attach a thin elastic cord made specifically for hats – like I did on this velvet and linen vintage hat (pictured above), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland. (The lovely ladies there sell beautiful vintage hats and they actually gave me a hat elastic so I didn’t have to buy one.)

Here’s what one looks like.

Hat elastic -

These elastics are 11 or 12 inches (28 to 30.5 cm) long and have small metal barbs at the ends, which lets you secure it to the inside of the hat. You can buy them at Lacis in black, white or beige for 45 cents each at their retail store in Berkeley or online on this page (scroll down until you see “Hat Cord” 12″) on their website. (You can also buy 11-inch ones ( 12 for $6.50) online at Judith M Millinery Supply House on this page: 11-inch hat elastics.) Choose the color that will blend in best with your hair color.

You can also make your own hat elastic by buying elastic cord in pre-cut packages or by the yard at a fabric store or online. I got a couple of yards of this black elastic for 30 cents a yard at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. It’s about 2 mm thick.

Elastic cord -

Cut it to the length you need, insert it into the hat and knot it at the ends where the metal barbs would be on the pre-made hat elastics. But you need a big knot to make sure it stays in place. You can also knot the ends around a small bit of wire, which will do a better job of keeping the elastic from slipping off. (I wrote a post about this in 2012. Back then I didn’t know where you could buy hat elastics so I made my own.)

Black elastic cord -

The pre-made hat elastics are primarily for “fitting” hats – hats with a crown that comes down near your ears. If you have a “sitting” hat, such as a pillbox, which sits on the top of your head, the pre-made elastic won’t be long enough so you may either want to make your own or explore using a hat pin or clip to keep it on your head. I’m not sure how a long elastic would look; I think that depends on how much your hair hides the elastic.

To insert the elastic, you need to make two small holes in the ribbon (usually Petersham – or millinery grosgrain) inside the hat. Most hats will have this ribbon, which operates as a sweatband, preventing perspiration and oil from staining the hat.

The elastic goes underneath your hair, not under your chin, so the holes should be made in the ribbon at the midpoint of each side of the hat near your ears. The elastic will go behind your ears so you want to place the holes slightly closer to the back of the hat.

I’ve used a large needle to make my initial hole and then taken the point of my small pair of embroidery scissors to make the hole large enough to slide the elastic through. As you can see this hat came with combs inside but I don’t like using them. You can see my hat elastic.

vintage black hat with combs -

And here’s a close up shot.

Hat elastic inserted -

And here’s a shot of the hat, which I love.

Black linen and velvet vintage hat -

UPDATE: I posted a photo from this post on my Instagram account (@csews) and @_sarawaters commented that she read this post but couldn’t picture how te elastic helps keep it on your head. So this update is for you Sara!

Where does the hat elastic go? It goes under your hair in the back. When my hair was longer, I just put the hat on my head with the elastic hanging down in the back and pulled my pony tail through. Or you can grab your hair, put the elastic under it and put the hat on your head.

I’m wore the black vintage hat in this photo. You can’t see the elastic here but it’s going from the crown of the hat and under my pony tail. (I’m wearing my red Anna Dress in this photo. You can read about that dress in this post: Finished: My Red Anna Dress.)

Red Anna Dress - back - By Hand London -

You can sort of see it in this photo – the elastic is that thin black line going from the velvet loop at the brim and goes down at a slight angle.

human hair 613 blonde wigs

I also wore this hat with the first Anna Dress I made. It was windy that day as you can see from the photo but the elastic did the job. My hat did not fly away! If you have very short hair, shorter than chin length, I’m not sure if the hat elastic will stay down because you may not have enough hair to keep it in place; it might ride up the back of your head and then the hat will fall off. Hat elastics are probably best suited for hair that’s no shorter than chin length which is my current length. I purposely didn’t go any shorter because then I wouldn’t be able to wear a lot of my vintage hats. 😉

Vintage black hat with Anna Dress -

This vintage chapeau is not quite a sitting hat but has enough of a crown so I could use a pre-made elastic. (You can read more about the dress here: The Anna Dress: Celebrating Sewing Indie Month.)

I hope you found this information useful. One of these days I’ll write a post (or maybe make a video) about using hat pins.

Do you like to wear hats? I wear them every day, vintage and contemporary. What hats do you like to wear?

How to keep your hat on your head with hat elastics - DIY, hats, millinery -

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

4 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Hat on Your Head with Hat Elastics”

  1. I am attempting mad hatter hats out of upside down coffee cups for our National Charity League tea activity for the teens. I don’t know how they will stay on so I’m going to try the elastic with a knot but I’m worried about how much more time that will take (150 girls, 30 minutes). I wonder if it would be easier with bobby pins. What do you suggest? Love your tutorial. Wendy

    1. On a windy day, you likely need more than an elastic – especially if the hat is lightweight. If you only have 30 minutes, then bobby pins might work. But that depends on where the pins are going in relation to the hat. Bobby puns might be more trouble. Test how that would work before you get the pins. Or just have them pick up elastic/pins on their way out. Then they can spend the 30 minutes decorating.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! What a fabulous tutorial. And thank you ever so for making the distinction about where the elastic should be on your head. I constantly have to explain to my coworkers that my hat elastics are NOT chinstraps! 😉

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