How to become a Milliner

Milliners design and make hats and other headgear such as caps, berets, bonnets, fascinators and bridal headpieces, using materials such as felt, fabric, fur, leather, straw and artificial flowers.

Personal requirements of a Milliner

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Artistic sense of colour and design
  • Patient and able to persevere
  • Understanding of and interest in fashion trends

Education & Training for a Milliner

To become a milliner you usually have to complete a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a milliner by completing a traineeship in Millinery. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For further details, visit

Duties & Tasks of a Milliner


  • interpret fashion trends and use them in designing hats and other headgear
  • mark and cut patterns to desired shape and size, lay the pattern onto fabric and cut around it
  • shape, cut, twist, roll, fold and reinforce fabrics and other materials with wire to gain desired effect
  • assemble hats by hand or using a sewing machine
  • steam and press material into shape by hand and, if needed, stiffen it by using a special solution
  • sew trimmings such as ribbons, buckles, braids or chains onto hats
  • operate semi-automatic blocking machines for mass production
  • alter, renovate and re-block (re-shape) existing hats
  • package and dispatch hats for customers
  • display, fit and sell hats and accessories.

Working conditions for a Milliner

Milliners employed by mass-production firms usually perform single tasks, such as trimming hats with ribbon or sewing in headbands. Milliners making 'semi-model' (limited production) hats hand trim shapes that have been moulded by machine. Highly skilled milliners create designs in fabric or on paper that can be followed by other milliners.

Employment Opportunities for a Milliner

Most milliners are self-employed or work for small, boutique retail businesses, selling model (one-off) and semi-model hats. Milliners who wish to start up their own business usually have a lot of experience and require the necessary start-up money and business ability. There are limited opportunities to work in hat manufacturing firms that mass-produce hats by hand. You should contact individual milliners to obtain information about employment conditions and training requirements, which can vary from firm to firm.

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