The trim of any hat is nearly as important as the shape. The two must be in balance with each other in order to achieve the harmony required for a successful design.
Many trims can be used on hats, from a simple band and bow to an elaborate array of feathers or flowers, fabric can also be used. Whatever material the trim is made from it should always complement the hat shape, adding interest and a focal point.
The quality of the trim is a reflection of the whole design, cheaper hats would normally use an inexpensive trim often glue gunned into position, this method is normally used on mass production hats made in volume at hat factories. The trims of designer hats should be sewn on by hand and model milliners would always hand sew trims to the hat, usually sewing by hand the petersham binding that goes around the outer edge of the brim.
After a hat has been Blocked, Sewn and Trimmed it goes through a finishing process before being delivered to the customer. This final processing of the hat includes a visual check, this is to see if the hat shape is true, and that the trim has been sewn on correctly and is secure.
At this stage most hats are steamed, this has the effect of softening the hat shape and allowing minor adjustments to be made during the steaming, it also improves the finish on felt and cloth as it allows the material to relax. Straws can be ironed to remove minor creases, a heated “hot pot” similar to a heated hat stretcher is sometimes used. All thread ends will be trimmed and a thorough brushing will be given to felt and cloth hats. Spot stiffening and cleaning may be required.
When the hat has been checked to ensure that it is up to the quality required, it will then be tagged with a manufacturers swing tag, most hats have a care or manufacturers self adhesive label attached inside the hat at this time, although hats of higher quality will have the label sewn in during the manufacturing process, usually attached to the headband.
Hat finishing requires a good eye, attention to detail and the ability to carry out small repairs, hand sewing skills are necessary. If the finishing operation is not carried out perfectly, it can harm the relationship between manufacturer and customer.