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Darrell2688

One of the Regulars
Messages
285
Location
Piner, Kentucky
I’ve bought half a dozen capelines here in uk from various suppliers. All Czech made rabbit fur. So far the most expensive have the best finish that require minimal pouncing. But what I’ve noticed within the same supplier, is the inconsistency of the stiffening. Is this common? Have any of you had similar issues?
I recently had an issue with a chocolate brown rabbit fur felt, there was a soft spot in the brim close to the bottom of the crown, I wet the brim in that area and then used a steam iron on the soft spot and the area of the brim that I wet, roughly one third of the brim, then let the brim dry, that seem to fix the problem for me. Are you dealing with soft spots or stiff spot in the felts?
 

BigHat

New in Town
Messages
30
Hi. No it’s the whole brim. But since posting earlier I’ve noticed it’s the pale colours which seem to be the issue. I’m wondering if it’s just a coincidence or theres more to it. All the capelines have been dress weight between 120 and 130 grams.
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
I may be in the wrong spot entirely here, I’m new to the forum. I will gladly move this post if I need to.

I’m brand new at learning hat making. I’m HOOKED. I started out buying blank wool felts and decorating them up and loved it so much I wanted to learn how to make my own hats start to finish.

I have watched a lot of tutorials and purchased a fair number of supplies to get me started based off of some of the YouTube videos I watched in order to get started.

The issue I keep encountering: I bought hat blocks from hat shapers (the tutorial I watched recommend this). I realize now their shapers are really more for wet molding and I’m wanting to make cowboy hats, rancher hats, wide brim hats, fedoras, classic shapes etc.

The hat shapers I bought are nice to start with and affordable but it seems to make the crown part of the hat really small. I think that might be fine for certain people who like that look but it looks a bit funny to me, too. I feel like I need a hat block that gives me morenheightbtonworo with in the crown so I can shape the hat however I want without feeling like it then becomes too short.

Can anyone recommend a solid hat block I can buy in both a women’s and men’s standard size? (I’ll add more hat blocks to my collection in other sizes as I’m able to).

I hope what I’m asking makes sense, I can provide photos if that helps.

I really enjoy this forum, I have already spent a few weeks reading many old posts on here that has helped me a lot in this journey!

God Bless
I have shopped the world for hat blocks. The ones from Guy Morse Brown and HatBlocksPoland are works of wooden art.

They are blocks that will be handed down and used by future generation hatters. HatBlocksCanada (JaxonHowell.com)has nice ones as well and maybe cheaper as his pricing is in Canadian funds. I standardize on 6"/15cm high crowns and block less if I require a shorter crown on the hat. If you have blocks in sizes 58, 59, 60 & 61cm you probably have 80% of mens sizes covered. You need a set in Regular oval and Long Oval and you can make hats to fit many heads. Women's sizes run smaller and you need to add 56 & 57cm to suit their range. Be cautious about 3D printed blocks as they can have ridges in the plastic that will transfer to the felt. They are cheaper but be cautious before you buy as you may regret it.
 

Darrell2688

One of the Regulars
Messages
285
Location
Piner, Kentucky
Hi. No it’s the whole brim. But since posting earlier I’ve noticed it’s the pale colours which seem to be the issue. I’m wondering if it’s just a coincidence or theres more to it. All the capelines have been dress weight between 120 and 130 grams.
Is it a problem with the dye color or the shellac in the felt that you have noticed?
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
I’ve bought half a dozen capelines here in uk from various suppliers. All Czech made rabbit fur. So far the most expensive have the best finish that require minimal pouncing. But what I’ve noticed within the same supplier, is the inconsistency of the stiffening. Is this common? Have any of you had similar issues?
Felt, even from the same factory, can vary in stiffness. Your supplier should be able to tell you the degree of stiffener in the felt. Often it is a separate number for brim & crown. Many of the UK suppliers I have come across serve the millinery trade and those felts tend to be floppy and lighter weight felt.
Shellac (Clear or Super Blonde) is your best bet. I dissolve my shellac in a ratio of a tablespoon to a cup of denatured alcohol. It gives a little bit of stiffener as I prefer to put on multiple coats if needed rather than risking one thick coat and having it be too stiff. A fellow hatter I know uses almost a 1 to 1 ratio and his crowns come out carboard stiff. So play around with it to get the mix that suits you. Brush it on and with a bit of work you can achieve the level of stiffness you want.

A side note, the Tonak (Czech) felts tend to be softer and more floppy than other manufacturers. Usst (Ukraine) & FEPSA (Portugal) offer various felt weights in rabbit and beaver that are geared to the men's market and tend to be stiffer. FEPSA sells direct through their website. GuyMorseBrown out of the UK has Tonak specifically for men's hatting and theirs are definite more stiff than say the ones from TheTrimmingCompany.
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
And I guess one more question….. what’s everyone’s favorite way to stiffen the brims? I’ve used hairspray, shellac, and khals. They all seem pretty good but I’m unable to get super stiff brims. I don’t mind some not being real stiff but would like to be able to make super stiff brims too.
Shellac (Super Blonde or Clear) dissolved in denatured alcohol is what I use. It is the time tested way for hatters to stiffen the felt. At the factory they use shellac but in a slightly different mixture/carrier. I use a tablespoon to a cup of alcohol which makes a very light mix as I prefer to put on multiple coats rather than one thick one. Multiple light coats gives me more control as I fear putting too much on the felt and getting it too stiff.
A fellow hatter I know uses almost a 1 to 1 ration as he wants real cowboy hat stiffness in the brims.
Mix your own shellac as brands like Zinser in the spray have wax in the mix. Mix your own, at the strength you want.
 

BigHat

New in Town
Messages
30
Felt, even from the same factory, can vary in stiffness. Your supplier should be able to tell you the degree of stiffener in the felt. Often it is a separate number for brim & crown. Many of the UK suppliers I have come across serve the millinery trade and those felts tend to be floppy and lighter weight felt.
Shellac (Clear or Super Blonde) is your best bet. I dissolve my shellac in a ratio of a tablespoon to a cup of denatured alcohol. It gives a little bit of stiffener as I prefer to put on multiple coats if needed rather than risking one thick coat and having it be too stiff. A fellow hatter I know uses almost a 1 to 1 ratio and his crowns come out carboard stiff. So play around with it to get the mix that suits you. Brush it on and with a bit of work you can achieve the level of stiffness you want.

A side note, the Tonak (Czech) felts tend to be softer and more floppy than other manufacturers. Usst (Ukraine) & FEPSA (Portugal) offer various felt weights in rabbit and beaver that are geared to the men's market and tend to be stiffer. FEPSA sells direct through their website. GuyMorseBrown out of the UK has Tonak specifically for men's hatting and theirs are definite more stiff than say the ones from TheTrimmingCompany.
Thankyou, that’s interesting. I’ve had 3 from GMB. A grey and a sage green. Both had good stiffness and the flanged brims had a good snap to them. I then bought a bone colour which had very little stiffness in the brim.
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
I may be in the wrong spot entirely here, I’m new to the forum. I will gladly move this post if I need to.

I’m brand new at learning hat making. I’m HOOKED. I started out buying blank wool felts and decorating them up and loved it so much I wanted to learn how to make my own hats start to finish.

I have watched a lot of tutorials and purchased a fair number of supplies to get me started based off of some of the YouTube videos I watched in order to get started.

The issue I keep encountering: I bought hat blocks from hat shapers (the tutorial I watched recommend this). I realize now their shapers are really more for wet molding and I’m wanting to make cowboy hats, rancher hats, wide brim hats, fedoras, classic shapes etc.

The hat shapers I bought are nice to start with and affordable but it seems to make the crown part of the hat really small. I think that might be fine for certain people who like that look but it looks a bit funny to me, too. I feel like I need a hat block that gives me morenheightbtonworo with in the crown so I can shape the hat however I want without feeling like it then becomes too short.

Can anyone recommend a solid hat block I can buy in both a women’s and men’s standard size? (I’ll add more hat blocks to my collection in other sizes as I’m able to).

I hope what I’m asking makes sense, I can provide photos if that helps.

I really enjoy this forum, I have already spent a few weeks reading many old posts on here that has helped me a lot in this journey!

God Bless
I have used hat shapers and they sorta work....not great but they do work. If you have a skil saw you can cut off the base of the hatshaper form, then cut a piece of wood to match the footprint of the form and extend it by how ever much you need. I attach it using yellow vinyl painters tape. It works.
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
Thankyou, that’s interesting. I’ve had 3 from GMB. A grey and a sage green. Both had good stiffness and the flanged brims had a good snap to them. I then bought a bone colour which had very little stiffness in the brim.
Were they all from their men's felts at 159cm or the cheaper lighter ones?
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
All from the men’s hat range but the shorter brims. I’m not going over a 7cm brim atm, on a 60cm block.
I suspect the 159cm felts would be stiffer. It might be worth the extra money. I use the Usst (Ukraine) dress weight at 160grams it is a substantial felt and the brims don't need any stiffening even for western style brims. Check out the Millinery Warehouse out of NY. Pricing is good but you may get whacked with import fees in the UK.
 

BigHat

New in Town
Messages
30
Were they all from their men's felts at 159cm or the cheaper lighter ones?
Hi thanks again for the info. Yes import duty is always going to be an issue when importing from USA. But since UK left the EU it’s made importing from anywhere more expensive.
 

Rmccamey

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,588
Location
Central Texas
You guys have a good source for tapered band blocks?
20240211_195140.jpg 20240211_195110.jpg
 

Noeldaigle

New in Town
Messages
6
I use Super Blonde shellac flacks that I purchased from a store on Etsy and 95% denatured alcohol that I buy on Amazon, I desolve the flakes in about 16 ounces of the alcohol then apply it with a paint brush, you could also put it in a spray bottle and spray the brim, however with spray, wear a good mask and you will get it on the crown also, so I suggest using a brush, dip the brush in the mixture and apply in lite coats, let it dry between coats until you get the stiffeness that you want. If you get it too stiff, you can always iron the brim with a good steam iron a couple of times. Another way to stiffen up the brim would be to spritz the hat with rubbing alcohol then ise a Bic Lighter, that will burn off any lose fibers and also stiffen the hat. I have also just sprayed the hat with denatured alcohol completely and let it dry, the felts stiffen up a lot and then I use a steam iron to soften them up if they are to stiff. I am sure that there has to be another way to stiffen up the brims or even clear up soft places in the brim.

I am working on a dark chocolate rabbit fur felt right now and there was a really soft spot in the brim felt and I wet the felt then used a steam iron on that area of the felt, that took care of the soft spot and made the brim flat and equalized the stiffness in the brim.

This has been my experience working with felts, hopefully someone else will have something to add or correct anything that I have suggested.
Thank you for this wealth of knowledge!! I have tried hairspray and spray shellac (on wool felts) and the results were ok but not what I was going for. Also have found they can easily leave a white residue that I don’t like. I just got my first rabbit and rabbit/beaver blend felts so I’m excited to try those. Some of them were sold “pre-stiffened” so I’ll have to see how those turn out.

Thanks again so much! This is the best forum I’ve found so far for these types of questions. Even just going back through old posts and questions has been amazing. I could spend days reading it all.

Appreciate it!
 

Noeldaigle

New in Town
Messages
6
I have shopped the world for hat blocks. The ones from Guy Morse Brown and HatBlocksPoland are works of wooden art.

They are blocks that will be handed down and used by future generation hatters. HatBlocksCanada (JaxonHowell.com)has nice ones as well and maybe cheaper as his pricing is in Canadian funds. I standardize on 6"/15cm high crowns and block less if I require a shorter crown on the hat. If you have blocks in sizes 58, 59, 60 & 61cm you probably have 80% of mens sizes covered. You need a set in Regular oval and Long Oval and you can make hats to fit many heads. Women's sizes run smaller and you need to add 56 & 57cm to suit their range. Be cautious about 3D printed blocks as they can have ridges in the plastic that will transfer to the felt. They are cheaper but be cautious before you buy as you may regret it.
Thank you so much!! This absolutely helps a ton. I was actually just looking at the hat blocks Poland shop on Etsy! I definitely want to invest in the proper tools. Thank you for the info on sizing and shapes too. I had a decent idea on those but wasn’t totally sure if I was on the right track.

Thank you so much!!! Appreciate it:)
 
Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
Thank you so much!! This absolutely helps a ton. I was actually just looking at the hat blocks Poland shop on Etsy! I definitely want to invest in the proper tools. Thank you for the info on sizing and shapes too. I had a decent idea on those but wasn’t totally sure if I was on the right track.

Thank you so much!!! Appreciate it:)
I have 6 sets of blocks. Regular oval in #51, #52 and a flat top bolero style. Then I have that replicated in Long Ovals. Then if you want to make fedoras with snap brims and decent cupping you need flanges. That is where it gets tricky as flanges are even more expensive and you need way more flanges than you need blocks if you want to make a variety of hat styles.
 

dmeist

New in Town
Messages
31
Location
Ohio
Need some help. I'm getting a molting effect on the brim. Assuming I pounced it too much and the shellac is showing through. This has happened several times now, but only on light colors. It doesn't seem like I'm pouncing that much, but maybe it only needs a little.
Is there a way to remove the molting effect? I tried spraying denatured alcohol on it, re-steaming it. Nothing seems to help.
 

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Messages
10,273
Location
vancouver, canada
Which felts are you using? This is the bane of most hatters. I have had issues with certain batches. Sunrise nutria was very bad for this at one time, then Winchester had a bad phase. There is a risk that any attempts to fix will worsen it. So if you are willing to take the risk; try ironing it with lots and lots of steam. Try the denatured alcohol and rubbing the felt with a cotton cloth. Or carefully luring it with fractionated coconut oil but be very cautions of using small amounts on the cloth otherwise you risk putting too much in one spot and having a different stain.
Welcome to the downside, the vexing aspect of hatting. If I get a felt like this that is non repairable I place it in a bin and use it as an experiment felt, or a creative felt, a practice felt. If you learn from it then it is never a waste.


Need some help. I'm getting a molting effect on the brim. Assuming I pounced it too much and the shellac is showing through. This has happened several times now, but only on light colors. It doesn't seem like I'm pouncing that much, but maybe it only needs a little.
Is there a way to remove the molting effect? I tried spraying denatured alcohol on it, re-steaming it. Nothing seems to help.
 

dmeist

New in Town
Messages
31
Location
Ohio
100% Beaver felts from Pure Beaver Supply. This is the second time it has happened, both times same felt and color. The first one I did experiment on making it a Distressed hat. Actually turned out nice and is now my favorite everyday hat.
 

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