Do your hat labels look up or down?

Yes, do your hat labels look up or down?

Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot….

Hat labels look up and down and are in a jumble in their box.


When thinking about my lovely, woven hat labels which I got HERE, I did some research on what other milliners’ hat labels look like and whether they look up or down. What do I mean by this???  A label can be sewn in so that it’s readable when a hat is upright, or it’s readable when a hat is tipped over like a bowl of soup. A very technical definition, no?

So, where can you do hat label research?

If you’re fortunate, you can visit the millinery section of one’s local department store. When I lived in Norwich, UK, I would visit Jarrold’s Department Store which had a pretty spiffy section of candy-hued, sinamay-type Derby hats. Although their winter selection was less colorful and delicious. (Sadly their online selection of summer and winter hats is sad). Now that I no longer live in the UK and am located outside of Pittsburgh, USA, I’m unsure whether my local Macy’s has as good of a millinery section.

Where else is a gal to look?

There’s the option to look online!

Browse through Brenda Grantland’s Hatatorium which works with, and illustrates, the eBook: “Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors.” The Hatatorium’s emphasis is on vintage American and European milliners. A subsection of the website is delightfully devoted to hat labels. There are 343 examples which lets you see the many styles and ways labels have been placed in women’s hats.

A few of the labels are centered inside the tippy top of the hat. You will often see this type of placement in men’s hats.

But, I’d hazard to say that the majority of the hat labels on Hatatorium are sewn along the inside edge of the hat.

Imagine the inside of a hat as a bowl of soup. Cup the bowl in your hands and look down. You will see the hat label so that the writing is right-side-up and readable – what I call hat label looking down, …looking into the hat. Or you will see the hat label so that the writing is upside-down and not readable – what I call hat label looking out of the hat.  It seems that most of the labels on Hatatorium are right-side up.

However, when researching for my own label I wondered how would clients encounter my hats?  I’d imagined that my hats would be either sitting on tables or on hat racks and stands. I didn’t think that the inside would be the first thing that clients would see. To me a label that gazes into the top of the hat was like a label doing ‘handstands.’

Instead, I sewed my labels so that the text is easy to read:

Hat labels look up


And I went happily upon my way for a year or two until I got around to ordering care tags. Unfortunately, I now see why most of the hat labels look up into their tips. Additional tags, for size or care, hang down and can be seen – not pretty! Example:

Hat labels look up and poke out from the bottom


The label can be seen from the outside!  Kind of tacky, no?

Hat labels look up but then the label pokes out and can be seen be everyone else.


Well, I could snip all the threads and remove all of my hat labels and turn them about and then hand sew them again. But, other activities are calling for my time. In the meanwhile, I shall have a compromise of having my care tags being a bit wonky and the opposite direction from my hat label!
Hat labels look up - a temporary compromise.


Modeling the care tag exploration is one of the Candy Colored Clowns – the one with polka dots and a bit of Pierrot clown feel. Here’s what the outside of this hat looks like:

Hat labels look up - the finished hat.


Have you ever observed a tradition and thought it odd and later realized that it makes sense after all?

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