Restore Straw Hats

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Haoleboy, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    Aloha everyone from Hawaii. I am seeking any information people might have about restoring straw hats. I picked up a couple of woven lauhala hats (plaited from stripped pandanus leaves) about 40 years ago in Tahiti. They are still in good shape, but I worry about the fibers drying out and getting brittle. I've found lots of info/threads about cleaning and caring for straw hats but nothing about restoring pliability to old straw hats. My other question would be about the best way to put a sweatband in the hats. They were not expensive hats and didn't come with sweatbands.
     
    Cornshucker77 and jonesy86 like this.
  2. Cornshucker77

    Cornshucker77 Call Me a Cab

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    Welcome to the Lounge Haoleboy. I am curious to hear this question answered as well.
     
  3. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    One of our members, @moehawk, used, I think, coconut oil to give one new life. Perhaps he'll weigh in with his experience.

    Putting a sweat in a non-sweat hat will likely reduce the size one notch. Just a fair warning.

    Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
     
  4. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    I actually was thinking of thinning out a little coconut oil, maybe with alcohol, and misting the hat with it inside and out. The hat size is kind of variable, I can make a (thin) band to fit me and put it in the hat- there is a little bit of stretch. Trying to figure the best way to put the band in- glue?
     
  5. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    13,306
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    You could likely put a cloth band in without affecting the size much.

    Either way, stitch it in.

    Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
     
    AbbaDatDeHat likes this.
  6. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    I guess stitching would be preferable to gluing, will go that route. Thanks for the tips-
     
    AbbaDatDeHat likes this.
  7. Hat and Rehat

    Hat and Rehat One Too Many

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    One reason for an outer hatband or ribbon is to hide the stitching of the sweatband, so the plot thickens. :)
     
  8. moehawk

    moehawk I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
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    I have used coconut oil to bring life back to the dry, stiff brim of a nice old Panama with good results. I just used it straight out of the jar, and rubbed it into the straw with my fingers. I waited a half hour or so to let it soak in, and hit it with a little more. I probably used about a teaspoon total to do the brim. The only downside is the occasional whiff of stale coconut oil after it sits around a while.
    I recently used vegetable glycerin on a Panama that was feeling a little bit dry and crackly. Also worked well.
    I am not familiar with the straw type you have, so the standard disclaimer of Your Mileage May Vary will be applied here. :)
    Hope it helps, good luck and welcome to the Lounge.
     
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  9. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    I have several nice feather leis that are used for hatbands- pheasant, guinea fowl and another white one not sure what bird. They are not permanently on the hat, they are wrapped up in mothproof storage when not in use.
     
  10. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    I was thinking to thin the coconut oil with alcohol and mist it on- maybe I'll try it straight in an out of the way inside place. The Polynesians used pandanus (Hawaiian lauhala, leaves are lau, hala is the pandanus tree) for many things like mats, sails, fans, hats. Google "lauhala hats" and brace yourself- they can fetch $750-$800 on line. I paid about $2.00 each for mine 40 odd years ago in Tahiti, which is why no sweatband...
     
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  11. jonesy86

    jonesy86 Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
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    Hello Haoleboy and welcome,

    I’ve been studying all things Lauhala hats and feather lei hat bands for some months now after moving to Kauai. I found a hat maker, Rosie Boylan in Sydney who works with Pandanus hat bodies plaited In Vanuatu. I bet she could offer advice on your hats and/ or re-build them.

    https://rosieboylan.com/

    Rosie made me two custom pandanus hats both with cloth hat bands that are stitched in. I recently re-shaped one of them after it lost much of its shape in the rain using a plastic block and a recipe I got from @Bamaboots for shellac that worked pretty well.
    [​IMG]
    Good luck,




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  12. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    I saw some info on the lauhala/pandanus co-op she is working with in Vanuatu and looked into her site in Australia. That may be the way to go, depending of course on the pricing. As I mentioned earlier I don't have $700-$800 floating around in my checking account. Your hat in the picture is a dead ringer for one of mine! (Which I only paid a couple of bucks for back in '76 in Tahiti.) As you can see the shorter brimmed hat is starting to show its age, the broader brimmed hasn't been worn as much. Just out of curiosity how much did Rosie nick you for the hat shown? In Hawaii it seems that all the old-fashioned handcrafted stuff like hats and feather leis have gotten really pricey.

    papale 1.jpg papale 2.jpg
     
  13. Tukwila

    Tukwila Call Me a Cab

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    The other thing you could do instead of sewing in a cloth hatband is to just wear a thin sweatband around your head and then place the hat on top.
     
    jonesy86 likes this.
  14. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

    Messages:
    8
    That would probably work, but overall I guess I'd rather have it in the hat. I sent an email to Rosie Boylan and am awaiting a reply.
    Jonesy86 I was wondering how you put your image on the post- I was going to include it in my email to Rosie but couldn't save the image. I guess my computer ignorance rears its head again.
     
  15. jonesy86

    jonesy86 Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
    Kauai
    Hey Haoleboy
    I mostly use Tapatalk from my iPhone these days.
     
  16. Haoleboy

    Haoleboy New in Town

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    8
    I guess I had better increase my modern survival skills and check that out- the picture was clear and the image was larger than I got with jpgs.
     

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