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belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,578
Location
vancouver, canada
A coworker told me of a new custom hat maker who was opening shop 10 miles from my office. I excitedly stopped by the shop and engaged the charming proprietor/hatter in conversation. She was passionate and enthusiastic and very young. She had some of her hats on display and they looked...sort of decent, but not great. I asked if she had a #52 block in my size and she said she only has a couple of blocks and just makes band blocks for the sizes she doesn’t have. She has perhaps seven flanges, a Jiffy Steamer, an iron, a rounding jack, puller downer, and not much else. I asked about her prices and she said her basic Winchester beaver with a raw edge starts at $700.

I really wish her luck as we need more hatters, and I like having one local, but I can’t understand how these just starting out folks think they can command such prices. I’m dropping off some hats for ribbon and sweatband replacement (decent pricing), but I’d never consider a custom hat from her at any price. Added to this, her shop (the entire county) is located in an area of working class folks and ranchers who are not so free with their hard earned money. What are these young people thinking?

Perhaps she did a google search of "big city" hatters and just replicated their pricing. For me having to pay in Canadian dollars one of her hats would hit the $1000++.....pretty soon you are talking real money here. I wish her well as I would any young person starting a new venture but starting out charging at the top of the range is indeed a head scratcher. Charging prices that are double those of the master hatters here in The Lounge requires real chutzpah (sp?)


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Messages
17,690
Location
Funkytown, USA
Just stick a match behind the ribbon and that $700 hat would seem like a bargain... *ducks the barrage of shoes, hat brushes, cats and other handy-to-throw objects*
Sorry, couldn't pass that one up! :)
Nah, I'm meaner than that. I don't need to throw anything, just remind you the Giants are 19.5 games out. [emoji38]

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humanshoes

One Too Many
Messages
1,425
Location
Tennessee
Just stick a match behind the ribbon and that $700 hat would seem like a bargain... *ducks the barrage of shoes, hat brushes, cats and other handy-to-throw objects*
Sorry, couldn't pass that one up! :)
Say what you will about those matchstick hats moehawk, those clever folks created an upscale market where none previously existed. A twisted sort of genius at work there and one would be hard pressed to knock the business model.
 
Messages
15,855
Location
Central California
She may indeed Andrew, and I truly hope she does. I believe the world needs more hatters and I'm delighted to see this trend amongst the younger generations to recapture old skills and fine craftsmanship. I started making hats with fewer tools than she has and made some pretty decent hats right out of the gate, however, not being a master hatter, I didn't bring them to market at master hatter prices. That's just me, though. I think she should charge whatever she feels is appropriate for her product. The market will respond, one way or the other. Success is not just an American dream, but a dream shared by passionate entrepreneurs the world over.

I’ve given her some refurbishment work just to see what she can do. Her prices for new sweatbands, ribbons, etc. is a bit over market, but not terrible. I really like supporting new hatters, but I’m a believer in the free market and getting paid what your work is worth. I’m not giving her any reblocking work since she doesn’t have a block my size (she claims she can do it without a block in my size, but I’m not buying it).

I spoke with her again while dropping off a hat for work. She is enthusiastic, but she doesn’t seem to know much about hats. She wasn’t familiar with VS, BSHW, Gannon, NW, etc. she also had never heard of Tonak or FEPSA and thought that Winchester was the only source for fur felt. She didn’t know what a roan sweatband was and she had never heard of petersham (I wanted to make sure the new ribbon wasn’t petersham). I handed her a modern rabbit Borsalino and after handling it she asked if it was wool. Her market is obviously not hat enthusiasts.

As to her prices, part of the new hatter’s conundrum is the lack of specialized tools. This necessitates doing more by hand and spending more time getting it done. The result is a greater cost in time/money and a lower quality hat since hat tools and equipment not only decrease the time they also produce better results. It’s a good reason why starting part time while having a steady “other” income while learning the craft and accumulating tools is a winning strategy.

I wish her luck, but I’m not even considering commissioning a hat from her.


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humanshoes

One Too Many
Messages
1,425
Location
Tennessee
I’ve given her some refurbishment work just to see what she can do. Her prices for new sweatbands, ribbons, etc. is a bit over market, but not terrible. I really like supporting new hatters, but I’m a believer in the free market and getting paid what your work is worth. I’m not giving her any reblocking work since she doesn’t have a block my size (she claims she can do it without a block in my size, but I’m not buying it).

I spoke with her again while dropping off a hat for work. She is enthusiastic, but she doesn’t seem to know much about hats. She wasn’t familiar with VS, BSHW, Gannon, NW, etc. she also had never heard of Tonak or FEPSA and thought that Winchester was the only source for fur felt. She didn’t know what a roan sweatband was and she had never heard of petersham (I wanted to make sure the new ribbon wasn’t petersham). I handed her a modern rabbit Borsalino and after handling it she asked if it was wool. Her market is obviously not hat enthusiasts.

As to her prices, part of the new hatter’s conundrum is the lack of specialized tools. This necessitates doing more by hand and spending more time getting it done. The result is a greater cost in time/money and a lower quality hat since hat tools and equipment not only decrease the time they also produce better results. It’s a good reason why starting part time while having a steady “other” income while learning the craft and accumulating tools is a winning strategy.

I wish her luck, but I’m not even considering commissioning a hat from her.


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H. G. Wells said it best in this quote, "Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative."
 
Messages
11,463
Location
Southern California
...I spoke with her again while dropping off a hat for work. She is enthusiastic, but she doesn’t seem to know much about hats. She wasn’t familiar with VS, BSHW, Gannon, NW, etc. she also had never heard of Tonak or FEPSA and thought that Winchester was the only source for fur felt. She didn’t know what a roan sweatband was and she had never heard of petersham (I wanted to make sure the new ribbon wasn’t petersham). I handed her a modern rabbit Borsalino and after handling it she asked if it was wool. Her market is obviously not hat enthusiasts...
"There's a sucker born every minute." :rolleyes:
 

Andrew friedhofen

New in Town
Messages
27
Perfect example of the marketplace responding to hard earned knowledge, experience, and quality of craftsmanship. If he were a novice cue maker asking 5K for his early efforts then they'd probably be having the same discussion about him over on the Pool Cue Lounge...or wherever it is those guys hang out.
That's right. His early cues could be bought for a couple hundred or so. But they became progressively more expensive.
 

Rmccamey

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,038
Location
Central Texas
I'm not sure she yet understands or appreciates the value of what an apprenticeship in a decent hat shop could do for both her short term and long term goals if she is really set on becoming a master hatter.

I’ve given her some refurbishment work just to see what she can do. Her prices for new sweatbands, ribbons, etc. is a bit over market, but not terrible. I really like supporting new hatters, but I’m a believer in the free market and getting paid what your work is worth. I’m not giving her any reblocking work since she doesn’t have a block my size (she claims she can do it without a block in my size, but I’m not buying it).

I spoke with her again while dropping off a hat for work. She is enthusiastic, but she doesn’t seem to know much about hats. She wasn’t familiar with VS, BSHW, Gannon, NW, etc. she also had never heard of Tonak or FEPSA and thought that Winchester was the only source for fur felt. She didn’t know what a roan sweatband was and she had never heard of petersham (I wanted to make sure the new ribbon wasn’t petersham). I handed her a modern rabbit Borsalino and after handling it she asked if it was wool. Her market is obviously not hat enthusiasts.

As to her prices, part of the new hatter’s conundrum is the lack of specialized tools. This necessitates doing more by hand and spending more time getting it done. The result is a greater cost in time/money and a lower quality hat since hat tools and equipment not only decrease the time they also produce better results. It’s a good reason why starting part time while having a steady “other” income while learning the craft and accumulating tools is a winning strategy.

I wish her luck, but I’m not even considering commissioning a hat from her.


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Messages
15,855
Location
Central California
I'm not sure she yet understands or appreciates the value of what an apprenticeship in a decent hat shop could do for both her short term and long term goals if she is really set on becoming a master hatter.

Agreed. A felt hat is a deceptively simple thing with just a few parts. The devil is in the details, and the difference between a novice’s attempt and a master’s work is huge!


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belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,578
Location
vancouver, canada
Agreed. A felt hat is a deceptively simple thing with just a few parts. The devil is in the details, and the difference between a novice’s attempt and a master’s work is huge!


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Yes, the difference between a novice and a master is a chasm. I repeat the story of my wife finding a men's style hat at a local milliner's shop during last year's art crawl here in town. The hat was rabbit felt, crudely formed and pounced, no sweat, no liner. My wife loved the style of the hat and I had a hard time convincing her that she should NOT buy the hat. The milliner was charging a price equal to that of many of the master hatters here in the Lounge. I assume the milliner made a living as she had a shop but damn it was a sorry excuse for a hat. She now is the proud owner of a real hat made by Rick at Phoenix based on the pics I took of the hat. I just could not allow that milliner's hat in my house.
 

cozy d

Familiar Face
Messages
78
Location
san diego, california
Ok, this just happened...

I've been huntin for years and it's finally mine! I found it on ebay, an old, I'm guessing 1920's, Stetson wide brim thin ribbon pencil curl black hat. It looks like the felt would be stiff but its not, the felt feels light and very soft, but also very malleable. It will hold any shape without steam. As you can see the felt is very dusty but I'm not seeing any other imperfections in it. The sweat is also very dusty, I put the hat on for a moment and you can see where the dust came off the brow of the sweat. The hat looks amazing in its current dusty state, but a good brushing and I'm guessing the felt will look like new again. So what the heck do I do now? Do I dare clean it up? The thing I'm most nervous about is the sweatband. Aside from the dust, the leather seems to be in good shape but I've been burned by that assumption before. Also, the front of the sweat is loose. The "v" stitching near the reed looks good all the way around but the front is a bit out of place. I've included a picture which shows the threads holding it on. Is the loose stiching evidence of a previous repair? Anyone know how these were originally sewed in? Usually I'd be unable to resist brushing and steaming but in this case, I'm not going to do a thing before hearing from you guys first! Thanks for any knowledgeable advice you care to give. Cheers, D
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Messages
10,671
Location
Alabama
cd, I followed that hat as it sold and am glad someone here picked it up. Great hat. Typically but not always, the leather in the sweats of these old ones hold up well and though dusty, that one looks to be in fair shape. I wouldn't hesitate to wipe it down with a damp cloth to clean it and a light conditioning if I felt it needed it. I use Bick 4 but there are other conditioners out there and threads to debate them on.

It appears to me that where the stitching is loose, the backing material of the sweat and where it covers the reed is breaking down also, the thread attaching the sweat to the hat may break down as well. I cant't judge from the pics if there are any repairs that can be made or would be worth attempting. The ribbon would have to be removed to repair or replace the sweat and those can sometimes be fragile.

If it were mine and it could be worn as is, I'd deal with sweat as best I could then I would steam and brush the hat, taking care to keep the steam away from the sweat, vacuum with a soft brush if needed. Shape it and wear it.
 
Messages
14,751
Location
Buffalo, NY
cd, I followed that hat as it sold and am glad someone here picked it up. Great hat. Typically but not always, the leather in the sweats of these old ones hold up well and though dusty, that one looks to be in fair shape. I wouldn't hesitate to wipe it down with a damp cloth to clean it and a light conditioning if I felt it needed it. I use Bick 4 but there are other conditioners out there and threads to debate them on.

It appears to me that where the stitching is loose, the backing material of the sweat and where it covers the reed is breaking down also, the thread attaching the sweat to the hat may break down as well. I cant't judge from the pics if there are any repairs that can be made or would be worth attempting. The ribbon would have to be removed to repair or replace the sweat and those can sometimes be fragile.

If it were mine and it could be worn as is, I'd deal with sweat as best I could then I would steam and brush the hat, taking care to keep the steam away from the sweat, vacuum with a soft brush if needed. Shape it and wear it.

All good advice. I would expect the felt body to clean up like new with vacuuming, brushing and steaming. The sweatband is likely in good shape too. As Greg notes, the ribbon would need to be removed to restitch the reed tape to the hat. I have used a few drops of Fabri-Tac (you can find it at Joann Fabric) to hold a loose reed to the hat body. It is an effective fix for wearability that is easily reversible with a little acetone should you want to restore the hat down the road.

Congratulations on your find!
 
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