How to measure your head for a hat

How to measure your head for a hat —

Heads come in different sizes and shapes which is why when you put on a hat it might not fit. But, it’s not a problem. You just need to know your head size and then find a hat in that size.  But how do you measure your head for a hat? In this tutorial, I will show you three methods to measure.

  • You can measure your head size by using a flexible cloth or plastic tape measure. Here’s what mine looks like. Inches or centimetres is fine.

How to measure your head for a hat using a flexible cloth or plastic tape measure.


Note: a builder’s metal tape measure is too stiff.




Here’s how to measure head circumfrence on Goldie, my mannequin, who has a rather slippery head and no ears.

Take the tape measure and bring it around the back of the head so that it loosely rests on the bump. Bring it around the side so that it is about 1/8 inch above the ears. Then, have it meet in the front, on the forehead, around where you would like your hat to rest. I usually put my the tip of my thumb or little finger in between head and tape measure for a bit of ease.


How to measure your head for a hat using a flexible tape measure.


  • Secondly, if you don’t have a flexible tape measure then you can use string or twine that doesn’t stretch. Place the string or twine the around your head, the same way you would use a flexible tape measure. Remember to include your pinky finger in for ease. Note where the string meets. Then, lay twine on top of a long ruler. This will give you your head size measurement.


How to measure your head for hat using twine instead of a tape measure.


  • But what about if you are needing a measurement of your own head and don’t have a handy helper?

Then, try this third method. Work in front of a mirror to see where to place the flexible tape measure. Take the tape measure and encircle your head, just above the top of ears to find out the circumference. Make sure that the tape measure goes over that small bump at the back of your head. Please don’t pull it tightly. Leave a little ‘ease’ so that your little finger can fit under the tape. Look in the mirror to see what number your finger is on. Then, keeping your fingers on ‘the mark’ take a look to confirm.




Remember, where you measure will be where the hat sits on the head. This can vary with different hat styles. For example, some hats are worn high on heads, whereas cloches are worn lower down on the head, over the ears, so you would then need to place the tape measure over the ears for the latter.


  • Keep in mind how you style your hair or whether you wear eyeglasses; these things can add to your head size measurement.
  • Also, just like blue jeans, some people like ’em tight, whereas, others like ’em loose. I find a tight hat gives me a headache!


It can be helpful for a milliner to have the across head measurement. To do this take the tape measure and go across the head, from the top of the ear to the other ear.

How to measure your head for a hat from ear to ear for depth.



Lastly, do you know the carpenter’s saying: ‘Measure Thrice, Cut Once’?

Measure your head for a hat three times. Surprisingly, your measurement may vary, so it’s best to do it more than once!

If you prefer learning by video, please see my short video on Instagram.


Interestingly, hatters (people who make hats for men) use numbered sizing which is the diameter of a hat. But how would you measure that?  Here’s a cute cartoon from Village Hat Shop showing how to measure and fit a man’s hat.


If you have a moment, I would appreciate it if you could fill out this two-question survey about head size measurement and whether you wear hats. (I have no idea what the puppy charity thing is afterward….)

Create your survey with SurveyMonkey





A week later, I wrote up the results of the head size measurement survey in my Newsletter.


If you have any questions or suggestions about wearing hats or how you measure your head for a hat, please leave a comment below.

4 Responses

    • FeltHappiness

      Hello Glenn,

      Thank you for replying!

      With wet felting we need to make the resist larger than our head size, so that when it shrinks, it becomes a strong non-woven fabric.

      I usually make a resist 35% to 40% larger than the head size. Please keep in mind that as one works around a flat resist, that it’s only half the measurement X 2.

      For example for a 22 1/2″ head size divided by 2 = 11.25″
      Then, multiply by 1.54 (35%) =17.32, rounded up to 17.5″
      or multiply by 1.67 (35%) = 18.78, rounded down to 18.75″

      Please keep in mind that I use 4 – 6 layers of wool on a hat. Have learned that some folks make their resists 50% bigger (multiply by 2), but they may be using less layers. Recently, tried doing a hat like this (with 4 layers) but could not shrink it down enough.