Felt Hat -> Soft?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by NicNicholas, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. NicNicholas

    NicNicholas New in Town

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I recently bought a nice felt fedora and I really love it. It got slightly went and crushed after a wild night on the town and now it isn't holding its shape as much as it was when I first purchased it. Is there any way I can "stiffen" it up a little bit so it doesn't sag as much around the top? Has anyone else ever experienced something like this? Thanks.
     
  2. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    Messages:
    10,562
    Location:
    Bozeman, MT
    fur felt? A bit of steam should bring it back to life.
     
  3. If it was stiff to begin with and you want to regain that stiffness there are spray stiffners used on Cowboy Hats. Basically it is a shellac. Google spray hat stiffner.
     
  4. Not-Bogart13

    Not-Bogart13 Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,502
    Location:
    NE Pennsylvania
    If it's wool felt, you may have a problem. Otherwise, what the gents said above should help.

    That must have been some night.
     
  5. MisterGrey

    MisterGrey Practically Family

    Messages:
    526
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    I'm curious about revitalizing wool felt, myself. A wool felt I had that was allegedly "water repellent" couldn't quite stand up against Hurricane Ike, and has now become very misshapen and floppy in the brim. Is there any way to restore it to any modicum of its former glory, or am I outta luck?
     
  6. PabloElFlamenco

    PabloElFlamenco Practically Family

    Messages:
    581
    Location:
    near Brussels, Belgium
    It's amazing you found your hat back in the first place! Hurricane Ike must have been some brute! ;)
     
  7. jec

    jec One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Hudson Valley, New York
    I recently used Kahl Hat Stiffener (in a spray bottle) to help reshape the brim of a wool Scala Outback hat that had become floppy and misshapen over the summer months. After spraying the brim, both from the top and bottom, I let it dry thoroughly. Then, using a spray bottle with water, a hot iron, and a tea towel to protect the felt from the iron, I gradually flattened and reshaped the brim. I've had to go through this procedure three times to get it to hold...and after a week, I can see that it is starting already to lose the crisp shape I gave it... and I have not worn it out in the rain.

    Answer: the stiffener certainly helped, and it appears that you can reshape a wool hat -- but I can see that it will never hold its shape like fur felt hat.
     
  8. NicNicholas

    NicNicholas New in Town

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Yep, its wool felt. Can I use a spray stiffener on that?
     
  9. DocMustang

    DocMustang One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
  10. jec

    jec One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Hudson Valley, New York
    Is Gelatin sizing waterproof


    I'd be concerned whether this Gelatin Sizing is waterproof when it dries. And if it is not, then how would the hat stand up to rain?

    Gelatin sizing is essentially what artists have long used to size their canvases (rabbit skin or hide glue), but the drawback has always been that the linen canvas would sag in humid conditions since the sizing is hydroscopic (absorbs moisture).
     
  11. DocMustang

    DocMustang One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    In the millinery books that I have read, hide glue is something that is described as being distinct from gelatin. I may be mistaken as my library is rather limited on the subject though.

    From a chemistry standpoint gelatin (like starch) is a polymer. One of the things that is unique about gelatin is that in the cooking process, multiple cross links are formed between the molecular elements of the gelatin. These bonds are not easily broken with cold water. To thoroughly remove all of the gelatin from a felt would require boiling or a more harsh chemical treatment. As a practical example if you have ever tried to clean up bowls that contained jell-o (particularly finger jell-o) hot water is required to disolve it. (note: the food dyes in jell-o are much more soluble in water that the gelatin componant, the initial color change during clean up is the dye leaching out and not disolved gelatin)

    Water resistance can be increased by adding glycerol or sorbitol to the gelatin. The addition of traditional starch can also help.

    As to gelatin's hydroscopic properties, "fixed" gelatin will absorb water molecules into its structure and droop. However most of the cross linking will remain intact. If it is prepared at higher concentrations this tendency to droop can be minimized.
     
  12. DocMustang

    DocMustang One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Ok, so I did some additional checkng. After checking some millinery (and traditional carpentry) websites, Hide glue and gelatin are indeed the same at an essential level. Gelatin is simply marketed as a food product. In this research I came up with a few additional things as well. As mentioned above adding glycerol to gelatin in a 3:1 ratio significantly improves the cross linking of the polymer and increases water resistance in cold water. This gelatin glycerol goop is painted to the inside of the hat and allowed to dry. Silica based sandpaper in medium fine grit is used to bring the felt back to texture. A milliner's weather proofing spray is then used on the exterior surface of the had to prevent water from seeping in from the outside. The sweatband should prevent sweat from being absorbed into the hat from the inside.

    Keep in mind, I do not normally work with felt. My hats are made from fabric with a buckram or plastic foundation. Elizabethan Millinery techniques are more primitive. Although felt would definately be period...I think I feel a project coming on...I could use a new riding hat....and for my wife maybe...
     
  13. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth New in Town

    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    NC
    I am new to serious hats and to this thread so these questions may have already been answered, but could you just use flavorless powdered Gelatin like you get at the grocerystore?
    It looks like that is the same thing that they are selling on the website.

    Also, I have a wool scout hat like this:
    http://www.mninter.net/~blkeagle/hats/bush.jpg
    (hope that worked)
    And it is sort of floppy. But, that is how I bought it, as in it is suppossed to be floppy-ish. But, after wearing it for some time now, it is getting a little misshapen. Could I use some of the above techniques to re-block it?
    If so would the gelatin etc. make it stiff or would it just be reshaped and still floppy.

    Lastly, could you use spray starch to stiffin and re-block a hat? Or would that mess it up?

    I would have to drive a looooong way to find a proffessional hatter so doing this myself is about the only option.

    Thanks.
     
  14. As mentioned earlier, try "Kahl Hat Stiffener". Google it. Some online western wear shops stock it... gtd
     

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