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Teardrop Workshop

Discussion in 'Hats' started by jimmy the lid, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

    A fellow Lounger recently asked me for some advice on doing a teardrop crease. I wrote a fairly detailed response, and thought it might be of more general interest. So, here goes...

    Here's the basic teardrop formula. I do all of my creasing in front of a mirror (actually with a 3-way mirror), and I use steam to shape the crease...

    1. Center the hat on your head. Place hat on head and, while looking in the mirror, make sure it's centered where you want it in terms of how it is sitting on your noggin. [As basic as this may seem, it is really important. There is nothing more frustrating than finishing a crease only to discover that the whole thing is way off-center! :eek: ]

    2. Establish the center point of the pinch. Pick a point in the center (I line it up with my nose) and essentially do a center dent (while looking in the mirror). The goal is to establish where that center part of the pinch is going to be. Bring this down as low as you need to in order to establish a height that looks good. Once I have this front part of the crease about where I want it, I hit it with a burst of steam to lightly set it so that it holds its place.

    3. Establish the side dents. With the hat on, and looking in the mirror, I scoop out the side dents and shape them the way that I want them. At this point, you can get a very good sense of how the front of the hat is going to look -- so you should get that the way you want it. Lightly steam the side dents to hold them in place.

    4. Establish the height at the rear of the hat. Now, go to the back of the lid and fold it down to the height that makes sense for you. The objective is to establish the height at the round part of the teardrop, and this will also determine the amount of rake. Check out the hat from the side to see that you like the line. Make sure that the rounded part of the teardrop in back is uniform in terms of height. FWIW, mine usually wind up at about 4" in the back.

    At this point, the hat should look good from the front and sides, with smooth lines from front to back, and a nice smooth roundness at the very back.

    5. Elevate the "inner teardrop". At this point, the center of the crown will probably just be sunk down in the middle from all of the other shaping you have been doing. So, apply steam fairly liberally to the top of the crown, covering the entire area to soften things up. Then, take the knuckle of your index finger and, starting from underneath the crown at the point of the teardrop at the front pinch, simply run your knuckle parallel to the outer edge of the hat in a fluid, sweeping motion -- about a 1/2" in from the outer creased part of the lid. In other words, trace the teardrop with your knuckle from underneath the crown, pressing gently upward with your knuckle. You will need to hit the crown with steam and do this two or three times in order to really start establishing the elevated portion of the teardrop. Once you have the outline in place, then place your knuckle at the point of the teardrop in the front and bring it in a line straight back down the center of the crown toward the rear, pressing upward as you go. This helps to generally elevate the crown. Repeat this motion to really get a nice ridge at the front part of the teardrop. Then, you can also hit the round part of the teardrop with steam and gently use your knuckle to press upward and get the elevation you need, making circular motions from underneath.

    6. Other stuff. In order to make sure the back of the teardrop is nice and round, you can glide a thumb around the inside surface of the crease in the channel between the elevated part of the teardrop and the back of the hat -- pressing gently outward as you go in a nice clean sweep. Here's a photo to illustrate:


    This really helps to smooth things out, as well. Also, if necessary, you can take a finger (stretched straight out), and glide it smoothly down the sides of the teardrop to help shape the teardrop itself and give the channel the depth that you want. But no pressing with fingertips! Keep everything nice and smooth, and only fiddle with the top of the hat as necessary. Most all the work in shaping the teardrop is done from underneath.

    Here are some examples of the finished product:




    I hope that this info is helpful! :) Hopefully, this thread can be a place for people to share ideas, ask questions and post examples of their own creases.

  2. rmrdaddy

    rmrdaddy One Too Many

    Sweet tutorial Jimmy! Thanks Chief!
  4. Lefty

    Lefty I'll Lock Up

    I thought you were taking the secret to your grave! :D
    Great post. :eusa_clap
  5. Thanks Jimmy, I always said you were the best at it. Glad you shared.:D :eusa_clap :D
  6. Belegnole

    Belegnole One of the Regulars

    Nice, thanks for the insight..
  7. Thanks Chief!

    The Master at work...:eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
  8. Goose.

    Goose. Practically Family

    JtL...wonderful post and pics. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your art. :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
  9. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

    Thanks for the kind comments, Gents. Much appreciated! :)

  10. You make it look as easy as falling off a log. Thanks Jimmy.
  11. :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
  12. BobC

    BobC My Mail is Forwarded Here

    There are a few of us who have actually seen the creasemeister at work. And a couple of us have actual lids that the master has worked his magic on for us.

    Thanks, Jim. :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap :eusa_clap
  13. feltfan

    feltfan My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Teardrops without tears?

    Very nice and clear.
    I personally prefer a rougher look- more angular.
    For the center dome I like to use a hat crown block
    to push it up and then apply steam.

    One question: have you found you can create this
    effect for any hat, or just the nicer/vintage ones?
  14. Do you push out the c-shape after the center crease? Its not clear from your directions. Also, do you put in the front dents before or after you define the c-shape?
  15. CRH

    CRH Call Me a Cab


    I can't even spell Teardwop.

    Frumpa lumpa loo
    and fropa dopa doo

    I like lumpy creases and
    so do you.
  16. Fantastic tutorial, JtL--this should be a sticky!
  17. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee One Too Many

    This is a great tutorial, JtL. I've always wondered how you got such consistently great-looking creases. Thanks for letting us in on the secrets.
  18. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

    Once again, thanks guys. The system I have laid out developed over time -- and the particular order of the various steps has a lot to do with achieving consistent results. Once you get the hang of it, you can actually accomplish a finished crease in relatively little time.

    To answer both your questions, kaosharper1, the shaping of the teardrop itself doesn't really start until Step #4. As you fold down the crown to establish the height of the rear of the crease, you are simultaneously defining the rounded part of the teardrop. As you do this part of the crease, you are essentially eliminating the center dent that allowed you to "center" things in terms of the front pinch and side dents. As I mentioned, once Step #4 is complete, the top of the crown will essentially be sunk down in the center -- but the outer form of the teardrop will be in place. It then remains to elevate the "inner teardrop," as discussed in Step #5. ;)

  19. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

    I'm not completely sure how to answer this one, feltfan, but I'll give it a go. I have been able to accomplish this particular crease on a wide variety of vintage lids. As a general rule, I have found that the more lightweight felts are a bit more challenging to crease. So, in particular, I have found that Borsalinos take a bit of concentrated effort to coax the teardrop into shape.

    In terms of modern/custom lids, I have used this technique on an Akubra R.M. successfully. Ditto for a North Valley custom that is made from Winchester beaver felt.

    Without question, the most challenging crease job I have ever done was on my AB Deluxe. For some reason, the felt did not want to cooperate on the side dents. It was impossible to easily scoop in the dents, since the felt on the side of the crown acted like a single unit, and tended to collapse in on itself when pressure was applied (if that makes sense). So, I had to get creative and use a tablespoon to carve in the dents -- steaming the felt, then rotating the tablespoon deep into the felt while pressing outwards from inside the crown.

    Here's how that one turned out:




  20. Thin vs. Thick felt


    Does a lightweight felt like a Borsalino Alessando make a difference as opposed to more of a "dress weight" felt? I would think that the lightweights probably don't need steam.

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