$110 is a deal for all the work involved. Buying a block will be more than that, and possibly twice that.
Hello all! Sorry if I'm out of place with this thread, but while visiting family I had my most prized hat, a Stetson Premier Stratoliner in Sage that I put a 4 point crease in, be forcibly taken by the wind (my fault, I should have just carried the hat to the car. we were seeing strong bursts of wind), and disappeared into the night. It spent the night in their neighbor's field, despite my best efforts to find it (even after miles of searching, and soaking my legs in mud). I had to abandon my search and go home, and by the grace of the gods my Step-Father found it the next day in the field. This is how she looks at the moment, more photos are at the bottom of the post.
To get to the point, what should I be prepping to do to reverse the damage? It seems the brim took a pretty bad hit, and there's definitely mud/dirt still in the felt. Should I pick up a hat block, and reblock it, or do I stand a change getting the kinks out with steam? As for the brim, it was a snap brim. Is fixing it something I could reasonably do myself, or is it getting into territory I need a hatter for?
I'm by no means expecting to return to how it was, but I want to do everything I can to get it back as much as I can. What I have on hand at the moment is:
She has it sitting on the crown, in an unheated and dry area now. She told me she only ran it under tap water to wash the mud off, but otherwise hasn't scrubbed or blown dried it.
- Hat sponges
- Hat brush
- Water Kettle with fairly narrow steam vents
- De-Waxed shellac suspended in grain alcohol
- Distilled water
- Grain alcohol
Any and all help is greatly appreciated! The drive home had me contemplating selling most of my Hats, to include my prized Gannon to get a new one, so I really want to get it back into shape. Having walking through the pastures, in the gale winds, and pouring rains I honestly didn't think I'd ever seen it again.
As a hatter that loves to refurbish vintage hats here is my two cents:
The crown does not look too bad. Now that it is dried if the mud is not ground into the felt it may be possible with the orange sponge to brush it out.
By all means use steam and hand manipulation to get it back into shape. If you purchase a block it is critical that you buy one the same profile as the hat in its original shape. If you get a different profiled block it is very difficult to reblock it and get it exact so that brim dimension is the same. With your ribbon bound brim it is even more critical as you cannot trim the brim if you reblock it with the brim not even.
The brim if it is really deformed presents more of a problem than the crown. It is hard to get it back to original without a properly matching flange.
If I were to take on something like this I would:
Strip it back to basic felt - removing leather sweat, ribbon
Wash with a mild alkaline Orvis paste soap.
Reblock & reflange
Resew the components
Bash to original
The procedure would cost $110 plus two way postage of $40 total. So you are approaching 2/3's the price of a new one. You have nothing to lose by attempting the fix yourself. Try it, see what you produce as there is no risk other than your time. Then if you are not happy with it then consider sending it out.