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Moth Damage Repair

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Lumelux, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Lumelux

    Lumelux New in Town

    Hi everyone,

    Is there a way to fix/minimize a moth nibble? It's more like a small indentation in the felt. Can it be brushed to lift the nap or steamed?

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2012
  2. carter

    carter I'll Lock Up

    I believe Fletch mentioned that he knew of a fix in another thread.
  3. CAREFULLY scrape a bit of felt fibers from inside the hat in an inconspicuous area such as under the sweatband. Then mix with an inert glue that would not be glossy or darken when dry to make a sort of filler material,.. a sort of spackeling if you will . Not sure exactly what that would be, just my idea,...maybe one of the expert hatters here can better advise? [huh]
  4. Unless the hat's a real beater, a hat which you wouldn't get angry with yourself over should you make the damage even worse, I'd suggest you just live with the moth damage.

    But ...

    If the divot is shallow, you may be able to make it less conspicuous by sanding the felt. Keep in mind that the area where you sanded may turn a different color (likelier a lighter one) than the surrounding felt. So you may wind up sanding the entire body. Should you try this method, work in a counter-clockwise direction.

    An emery board may work as well. I was pleasantly surprised to discover what an effective tool it made for taking out some abrasion damage I had done (don't ask) to a hat of mine.

    Deep divots, or outright holes in the felt, may be "repaired" through the judicious use of a needle. (There are indeed needles made for felting. I learned this when I took my wife to a gathering of women who were turning wool yarn into felt. A light went on, you know.) You have to work the felt surrounding the hole with the needle, to loosen up the fibers some, and then work the material into the hole. Moisture (saliva is probably the handiest source) can be introduced to aid in "refelting" the material.
    Glouie, -30- and M Hatman like this.
  5. Lumelux

    Lumelux New in Town

    The divot is shallow and on the underside of the brim so it's not a huge issue. I'm sure I'm the only one who knows its there but if it's fixable I'd be happier. Thanks for all your help.

  6. Yeah, for that, sanding a little to try to even out the surface some and then brushing (counterclockwise, when looking down on hat) will probably be the best, safest solution.

    I have repaired deep divots and actual holes with a glue method. I use sand paper - 150 grit, I think - to scuff up some fluffy felt from under the back brim or inside the crown.

    Then, on a piece of paper, I spray a spritz of Super 77 - available at art stores and some office supplies. Then, quickly before it tacks up, I get some of the adhesive on a sharp toothpick and dot it into the damaged area. This is an almost invisible amount of glue I'm applying and I totally avoid getting any on the undamaged surface.

    Then I pinch some fluff and begin to smush it into the divot. When it's a hole, I have to do this process a few times and from both sides. It's important to sort of massage the felt material in so it knits up a little and gets flat. It's better to do this in degrees, in steps, than to try to gob a bunch of glue and felt in too fast. Very delicate procedure.

    One time, for an area about the size of a peanut that was thin and had a hole in the center, I actually made a stencil out of a Post-It and covered the rest of the hat so I could lightly spray the adhesive directly onto the area I needed to build back up.

    I have saved the look of about six hats - two of them with holes right through. Only when the hat gets wet do you see the difference in the nature of the felt in those areas. HOWEVER, I'm sure it's possible to make a gooey mess so try this at your hat's own risk.
    -30- likes this.
  7. This is basically the procedure I was alluding to,...thanks Gene for elaborating on that idea so well. :)
  8. Wow, Gene, that's quite the method you've come up with.

    Getting the felt from another part of the hat body (the inside of the crown, say) is certainly feasible, as anyone who has pounced (sanded) a new hat body can attest. Even a very light sanding ought to raise more than enough fuzz.

    Perhaps someone can come up with a way of getting those transplanted fibers to securely and permanently knit themselves to the fibers in the area of the body needing repair. Sanding the felt, or loosening it with a needle, is essentially "unfelting" a small amount of the fiber. What's needed is a technique to "refelt."

    The critter hair used to make new hat bodies is blown into cones and wetted. The still quite fragile felt resulting from that initial felting process is made thicker and stronger through the application of water and pressure (the cone-shaped bodies are run through rollers). So, it seems to me that we could come up with a way to replicate that process on a spot repair.
    -30- likes this.
  9. mineral

    mineral One of the Regulars

    I absolutely second the sanding method. I had a hat with some very conspicuous divots and have tried both sanding and the glue/needle method. I have found the sanding to be much easier to do, although your mileage might vary.

    For reference, I use a Chinese calligraphic inkstone for the sanding, which has worked wonders. I also find that using a hard toothbrush to go over the area after the sanding helps. (This was adapted from a proposal by some forum member for another issue.)

    Good luck!
    -30- likes this.
  10. Felt is cool.

    I just wish moths weren't wise to that.
  11. Really,..it doesn't taste very good. Would be better if they just ate grass or something.:rolleyes:
  12. johnnyphi

    johnnyphi Sponsoring Affiliate

    Moth Larvae are the Enemy!

    As pointed out to me in another thread by BK... Moths do not eat the felt. The damage is caused by moth larvae munching on "food" that is attached to the felt. I've actually found these little buggers lying dead on some of my hats. (My 4th Grade Science class taught me that the live larvae must have survived to become moths, and I haven't experienced a "Seinfeld" moment with live moths.)

    Soo... moth larvae are the common enemy!

    -30- likes this.
  13. Lumelux

    Lumelux New in Town

    I guess there's something to be said for keeping ones hat free of old food and stains. Seems sanding is the prefered method but what about scraping some fibers with a sharp knife? Before I try anything, I'll buy a cheap hat to practice on. Thanks again. Once I get settled in a new house, I'll have to post some photos of the hats I've bought recently. :)

  14. Mr. Paladin

    Mr. Paladin My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Moth Bite Repairs

    Ok all you great DIY guys out there-not to mention those who are classy vendors as well; I have a question. I am working on repairing the three moth (larvae) bites in my e-Bay Open Road. I have spent several hour picking at the pits gently with a sharp pin as was suggested in several other threads. While I am not yet quite through with this process, I am wondering....when I am satisfied with the cover-up, and after brushing the holes gently to fill and match the felt grain, should I give each area a spray with Kahl's felt stiffener to set the looser picked felt? Being a stiff western body anyway, it will not affect the flexiblility of the rest of the hat and it might help to keep it as neat as it is. On the con side, will the stiffener spray set the slightly different color of the cleaner and less oxidized felt so that it does not ever blend as well as it could? What say you?

    I will post pictures of it on this thread whenever I finish completely and get a consensus on the spray.
  15. I dont think it would hurt.
    I have sprayed the rain and stain on a few of mine after I have 'worked' them over... all to no ill effect.
    I have used the stiffner on more than a couple hats and have had no color change,
    I would try it on the smallest of the 'bites' first. Give it a little time and see how it turns out.

    A big :eusa_clap to you for trying this!
    -30- likes this.
  16. Hey, Mr. P.

    This is about the divots under the brim of your new Silverbelly OR style, right? I have repaired a lot of these on my hats - even fixed a complete hole right through the brims of two different fedoras. My method works best on mid-tone hats (medium brown, grey, taupe). Light hats may well show a darker place where you have added felt in the divots.

    Here's what I do:

    1) I get a small can of Super77 (3M spray adhesive available at hardware and office supply stores).

    2) I use 150 grit sandpaper to scuff up some fluffy 'donor' felt from under the brim somewhere. You need quite a good amount of fluff as it smushes back down to nothing in the next steps.

    3) I spray a quick spurt of the adhesive at close range on a piece of paper or an old file folder so it makes a little puddle. Careful, this stuff comes out in a blast and overspray is very tacky. Keep the hat away while getting the adhesive glob on the paper.

    4) With toothpicks at the ready, I dab into the sticky glue (note, it is already drying so you don't have long to get some of it on the toothpick) and then dot the glue into the divot on the hat.

    5) With the glue now applied to the entire divot area, I take a pinch of the graft felt and begin working it into the divot. I press it in, and I circle my finger around a little and I press again. I'm trying to get it to stick to the adhesive AND to felt up with itself. Any oils or dirt from your finger, or too much adhesive used at a time will darken the felt you apply to the damaged area.

    6) I repeat steps 3 through 5 as needed to fill the area to level with the rest of the hat surface. Note, I am not trying to make the donor felt soak up that miniscule amount of glue I apply each time - just attach to it so on the surface all you see is dry felt.

    Once you've gotten enough felt to stick and fill in the area, brush it lightly.

    This sounds tricky - and it is. Best I can do to explain it. It takes a touch, but you start to instinctively feel what you're doing only by doing it. I have done this process on some hats and it is next to impossible to see where the problems originally were. I have done it on others and it did improve the damage but it did not perfectly restore it.

    Using needles to pick or manipulate the felt, and/or using spray stiffener are not methods I've employed. Nothing against those ideas, I've just gotten good at really making solid repairs to moth nibbles by actually adding felt back into them.

    stephena310 likes this.
  17. The Elizans

    The Elizans Familiar Face

    Alternative methods

    I'm going to quote myself from a different thread here; this is my method, all I can say is that I have successfully made moth craters invisible with this method- over to your discretion...

  18. Mr. Paladin

    Mr. Paladin My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I am now just waiting for the stiffener to dry, then I'll get some pics posted with an explanation of what I did. I am really pleased with the outcome and appreciate all the great advice!
  19. Mr. Paladin

    Mr. Paladin My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Here is a pictoral explanation of how I tried to repair the moth bites in an otherwise beautiful vintale western Open Road hat. This is the damage befoe I began:



    I had already begun to pick the holes with a pin, following advice earlier from another thread, so I decided to combine the advice from the gentlemen who responded above and see what I could do to make the repair as well as I could. I used these items--a very sharp cork board pin, an emory board (fine side), my hat brush for light colored hats, and Kahl's hat stiffener for adhesive/sealer.


    I used the fine side of the emry board to gently scrape up a large amount of felt from the area underneath the sweatband inside the hat. Gene was very right and it required a LOT more than I had thought.


    Next, I used the pin and the bottom of a spoon to work bits of the felt into the bite pits which had been loosened and gently lifted previously with the pin. I assisted in compacting it and working it together with a very small amount of stiffener applied to the pit with a toothpick (I did not have any of the recommended adhesive and thought I would try this and see how well it held up. I hoped that would help bond the bits to the loosened felt already in the pit. I repeated the process until the pits were about as full as I could get then and keep the felt bits adhering. After giving it overnight to dry, I lightly brushed the areas with my light brush and then sprayed all three areas with the stiffener again. After drying overnight again, here is the result.

    Front hole repair-camera shot taken on micro setting.

    Rear two hole repair-camera shot taken on micro setting.

    Overview shot at about two feet distance for actual repair effect.

    While still somewhat noticable up close, the damage is much less obvious, particularly the front hole, which was the largest. It came out best because I did it last, practicing on the two in the rear first. I am pleased with the result and now wear the hat without the initial irritation I had regarding the unsightly pits. Thanks again to all who helped with suggestions. I really appreciate you all helping me resuscitate this hat!
  20. Inusuit

    Inusuit A-List Customer

    Nice Work Mr. Paladin...

    I have a nice 3X beaver Stetson with some nibbles. Your good work makes me tempted to try this on my hat. To this point, I've just ignored the issue. Thanks for sharing your procedure and the great pictures.

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