Hat distressing

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Tucker jay, Jul 13, 2020.

  1. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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    Good evening,

    I’m new to this hat making business. I’ve ordered 6 western weight 210G hat bodies(rabbit fur I think), brim cutter, brim cutler and a 58 hat block. I admire a lot of hatters yet finding resources to create and see how these are made is rather difficult.

    I really like the distressed look. How do I achieve this rubbed look? I’ve looked into powder dyes, but when I look closer it looks like a worn leather look. Any tips and tricks to create this distressed look would help!

    Also curious as how to set the hat on fire too!
     

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  2. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    Just a heads up....in a general sense the distressing of hats does not have a great many fans here in the lounge. We are a more traditional lot of hatters. Check out the Trimming Company out of the UK they had millinery weight felts (seconds) on sale for about $10 each. I bought a bunch to practice on and make women's hats. Decent felts and the flaws are not really noticeable and I figured for $10 it is much cheaper to practice on than a $100 felt. My hat making journey is mostly informed by the good ol' trial and error school. I try something and if it works I keep doing it, if it don't work I stop and try something else. I just try to have my mistakes not be life threatening to me or those around me. I think BlackSheepHatWorks has a video on his web page showing the flaming of a hat.
     
  3. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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    Thanks! I had no idea that it was frowned upon here. I do enjoy the traditional look as well and untraditional. Thanks for the tip!
     
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  4. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

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    Some very respected members like some artificial distressing, but usually it’s light distressing and more natural looking. There are a lot of custom hats of all sorts commissioned and posted here, but I can’t recall seeing even one with distressing and certainly nothing like the hats in your photos. To each their own. I will say that those heavily distressed hats have little resale value compared to “normal” hats based on what I see on the secondary market.

    Firing a hat is just to remove fine fur fibers and possibly firm up the felt (some think it makes the felt denser). The burned furs are brushed off and they don’t discolor or distress the hat if that’s what you’re looking for. I suppose you could take a propane torch to the hat if you want to scorch it, but the very thought makes me cringe.

    I hope you stick around. I’ll be interested to see your creations.
     
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  5. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

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    Gunner Foxx is well known for that kind of distressing. I have no idea what would do that kind of finish. Not that anyone asked for my opinion on distressing; but, I have a hard time 'buying' lot of hat distressing. I mean that in the sense of realism, not in the price/financial transaction sense. Old hats just don't look like that. I was just looking at this trashed Stetson campaign hat earlier today, it had a Fray sweatband that was ruined and it reminded me of Alan's adage about not how those sweats always seemed to have another century of life in them. Anyways, whatever happened to this hat that ruined a venerable Fray sweat didn't leave the felt looking waxy or like leather. I just don't know where this aesthetic came from.

    But enough of my soap box...

    If you haven't already, check out Scientific Hat Finishing and Renovation. It's basically a pamphlet on setting up a hat refurb shop, but provides a good primer on basic hat work. Several free sources on the web including:

    https://archive.org/details/scientifichatfin00erma

    Also this video of recently retired master hatter Art Fawcett provides some insight:
     
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  6. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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    R
    thank you so much! Finding resources is pretty tough. Not that I thought it would be easy, but I definitely thought I would have to be an apprentice to learn decent hat making. I get my first shipment tomorrow.
     
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  7. deadlyhandsome

    deadlyhandsome I'll Lock Up

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    Hats are very simple, but it takes knowledge and quite a few expensive tools to make them right. Spending a couple years as an apprentice is a good idea if you want to make a career of it. I suppose that one of the side effects of the extreme distressing is that it can hide a multitude of imperfections in the construction. Some of the “big names” in the bohemian distressed hat crowd make some low quality hats that sell for big money. I think these hats are just having their 15 minutes and won’t be around as much in the near future.

    I have blocks, a rounding jack, brim flanges, a flange stand, a pusher downer, a puller downer, a hat steamer, a heated hat stretcher, and other tools, but I’ve accepted that I’m not a hat maker. As it is so often, the details and nuances make all the differences. I wish you luck; we need more hatters.
     
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  8. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    I am a relative newbie to the craft of custom hat making. I am slowly putting the word out and am accepting orders for customs. Pretty much self taught with the help of some custom hatters that have been generous at answering my questions. Have you watched the Art Fawcett video on YouTube? It is a condensed hat making tutorial.....edited down to 30 minutes. It is pure gold. If you have any specific questions feel free to shoot me questions...willing to share what I have learnt so far.
     
  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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  10. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Well that's a relief.
     
  11. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    Best advice for distressing hats, (I like that lived in worn look myself), find a well worn used Western on eBay that's sweat and dirt stained already. Take the hat apart and give it just enough of a cleaning to take the "nasty" off of it but not enough to remove all the natural staining. I've done a few like that. My most recent is this well seasoned '50s era 3X Stetson Western that was filthy and sweat stained, but had tons of character. The person who gave it to me said it best, this hat has a story to tell, and it was well used by the original owner. I wanted to keep some of that story. Notice that the hat still retains some of its original and natural distressing...

    Before:
    [​IMG]


    After: reblocked and restyled with the original stained ribbon work and bound edge. I had to put a new sweat in it, though...
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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  12. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    From whom did you buy your felts?
     
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  13. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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  14. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    I purchased a few from them as well ....of various weights. With luck they will arrive today. I have high hopes that I will like them ...the only down side is the lack of colour selection. But I have ordered a neutral colour and will give a shot at dyeing. If it works I can offer custom colours.
     
  15. Lean'n'mean

    Lean'n'mean My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    The problem with those is that they only have a 13.5 cm (a hair over 5") crowns & once you've blocked & sized them, you'll be lucky if you get a 10 cm (4") finished crown. Doesn't leave much room for creases.
    I suppose one could try & recuperate a few more cm's from the brim but even so, there still won't be enough crown for a decent tear drop, which I believe is what you're planning.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
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  16. M Hatman

    M Hatman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    This whole thread "Distresses" me.................Poor, poor, abused hats......yes, quite distressing.........:rolleyes::eek::eek::eek::eek:;)
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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    I’m hoping to have success in dying them as well. Im on the hunt for some powder dyes today. I’m all for making a personalized hat a statement piece.
     
  18. Tucker jay

    Tucker jay New in Town

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    oh no :/ I thought you had to stretch the crown. I had no idea that you had to purchase them tall. This is quite frustrating because of the lack of resources to learn how to make these things. Hopefully I will have room. I’ll take pics today when they come in, if not looks like I’m returning them.
     
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  19. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

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    Here is what I learned from my one attempt at dyeing a hat. The hat was a 10X beaver western in a pure white. I stripped it down before dyeing. Treat the hat first with a mordant to clear any oils or dirt that might inhibit dye absorption. www.Maiwa.com has a great Pdf on dyeing natural fabrics and I learned there are separate dyes for natural fibres such as wool and fur felt and what to use to prep it for dyeing. Also cut your brim to size first. I did not and then when I cut the brim I discovered the dye did not penetrate the entire depth of the felt and I had an Oreo cookie affect.....grey on the outsides with a white core in the middle. I fixed it by sewing brim binding but would have preferred it raw edge. My result dyeing a white hat a medium grey is that I ended up with a bit of a mottled colouration. I call it my "Cloud" hat. I quite like the mottling....it is subtle but still noticeable.
     
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