Stretching a hat - advice please....

Discussion in 'Hats' started by jdbenson, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

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    Seattle

    Or more properly, why are heads bigger today?
     
  2. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    695
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    Central Vermont
    Or sell it and use the funds to purchase an OR in your side.

    I have stretched almost every hat I own to fit my LO head with no issues. Just follow the directions previously stated and you will be fine.
     

  3. That is true but when we find one of these "pearls" from days gone by, you need factor in their rarity.
    Being a LNL (Large Noggin Louner), I have to expand my search criteria to land some of the models I desire.
    I always look a size above & size below for vintage lids.
    You may have a larger pool in the smaller sizes but they ain't make anymore these gems.
    Even with modern & custom, getting & keeping my lids in my shape is going to require stretchers & such...
     
  4. TheDane

    TheDane Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    That would probably be the best solution. There's one detail/issue we haven't yet mentioned. There can be three reasons to use a stretcher:

    1) A hat has shrunken - probably due to rain
    2) Oval misfit. The hat is a regular oval, while you're a long oval
    3) Size misfit. The hat was made a size smaller than you wear

    Provided the stretching is done with caution and you succeed, there should be no problems in case 1 or 2. In case 3 it's a bit different.

    When the hat is made, the leather is cut to exact length. The reed is cut to a length between 3/8" and 1/2" longer than the leather. When the leather ends has been sewn together, the ends of the reed are put into each end of a small ferrule - the tape is laid over the ferrule and stitched.

    When sewn into the hat, the "too long" reed will force the bottom of the sweatband outward under the brim. This makes the sweatband bell or balloon for a better and more comfortable fit. It also means that the stitching will be forced away from the skin of your forehead, which otherwise could result in skin scratching and sweat stains to the felt.

    To make a size 7 hat into a 7 1/8, you need to stretch the circumference between 3/8" and 1/2". In other words, you need the leather to reach the same length as the reed, but the reed is not stretched when you use a stretcher. The result is a sweatband where the leather and reed is of same length - and the sweatband no longer bells.

    Of the three hats I have stretched a size, two of them had shrunken a whole size. The third was made a 7 1/8 and stretched to 7 1/4. No problems with the two first, but the latter actually scratch my forehead a little, and I consider changing the sweatband all together. The fact, that you're a long oval doesn't really matter here. The circumference is independent of the oval.

    Stretching a hat to a larger size than it's original will usually degrade the hat. I know that some loungers never would buy a stretched hat - others don't care. Anyway, in your case I think this should be mentioned.
     
  5. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    695
    Location:
    Central Vermont
    I have a solutions, give me the hat. I'll wear it lovingly :)
     
  6. alanfgag

    alanfgag

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    14,389
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Chicken wings were not invented until 1964. Before that, everyone, including chickens, walked more.

    There have been other discussions on this here, with some being of the opinion that average sizes have not changed much during the past century and the reason we seem to see more small size vintage hats is that the demand for small sizes was less, hence they remained unsold and have lasted. To me, it seems there is also a larger supply of smaller size hat blocks in the vintage market. I lean toward the argument that people of the recent past were generally smaller overall.
     
  7. Doc Glockster

    Doc Glockster One of the Regulars

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    199
    Location:
    the ranch
    I've been watching this thread and I was wondering how tightly you tension a hat jack just for storage?

    Mine seem to run the gamut from "barely stays in place" to "distorts the brim" in tightness.

    If a hat is nearing the exact fit I want, I torque it a small extra amount. If a hat is a little big, I just tighten the hat jack to fit without being particularly tight.

    What's correct?
     
  8. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    695
    Location:
    Central Vermont
    Doc,

    You and I use our hat jacks exactly the same.
     
  9. TheDane

    TheDane Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    The well known book "Scientific Hat Finishing And Renovation" from 1919 has a chapter called "Specialize on 'Odd Sizes'". The author writes:

    "You can make make up enough stock to sell to the local retailers, or you can advertise to these retailers that you are in position to make up hats in odd and unusual sizes, such as are not found in the ordinary hat stock. To be prepared for this special work - which will gain you many regular customers - you should be well supplied with blocks in out-of-the-ordinary sizes - 6 1/2, 6 5/8, 7 1/2, 7 5/8, 7 3/4, 7 7/8 and 8. This will enable you to sell to men who have never been satisfactorily fitted in any other shop."

    It seems heads were smaller then. I was born in 55, and I think the far majority of peers in my family - and my peers friends from school and up - are taller than their parents. Maybe this article can explain some of it. I don't think the fact that many youngsters in the 70s were busy getting high - and even higher - has much to do with it :cool:
     
  10. Lotsahats

    Lotsahats One Too Many

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    1,368
    I was speaking to an 80 year-old friend of mine last night about hats, and he mentioned that he is and was a 7 5/8. I know it's anecdotal rather than empirical, but there's one data point for large heads in the old days.

    I should ask him if he happens to have any old hats lying around...

    A
     
  11. Walter Neff1940

    Walter Neff1940 One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Tennessee
    Can a straw panama/fedora be stretched and if so, is 5/8 of an inch too much? If so, does the leather sweatband also stretch?
    Will it stay stretched? Thanks,
     
  12. RJR

    RJR

    Messages:
    10,622
    Location:
    Iowa
    Multiple answers;most will stretch at least one size,Often the sweat will "return" to original.Shape of the hat and brim width often produce a "wonky" brim on the sides.
     
    -30- and Bob Roberts like this.
  13. Bob Roberts

    Bob Roberts I'll Lock Up

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    And possibly some crown taper also?
     
  14. Joao Encarnado

    Joao Encarnado I'll Lock Up

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    No if you use a block or a proper hat stretcher.
     
    Bob Roberts likes this.
  15. Dm101

    Dm101 A-List Customer

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    498
    Location:
    Maryland
    Hey all,

    Is there more to getting an effective usage out of a "Hat Stretcher"??
    I let mine sit in the Black Bolero for a few days and it stretched the hat out nicely for the first day I wore it.
    By the second day the hat mysteriously shrank back down!?!?

    Did I do something wrong? I followed the instructions on the device and cranked it as hard as I could until right before I felt like the material might overstretch or tear.

    Do I need to do this multiple times over the course of months or something? If so I think I might just call it quits and just buy something that actually fits my wacky head.
    I don't think I'm smart enough for this hat game.
    I'm Army smart...apparently a field boonie is all that fits me.
    But that I can work with. They issue them to us too big, we just get some paracord out, braid it around the crown and tighten it down to my head size with a Prussik slip-knot.
    Done.
    Size holds for years!

    But this custom fit stuff...ugh...I'm not getting it at all.
    Not to mention I've been led in all the wrong directions, even by the shop I bought the damn hat from.
     
  16. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,217
    Location:
    vancouver, canada
    Like in the X Files...."trust no one!" But you can trust me when I say the hat stretcher is not picking on you. I have 3 of them from cheap to expensive and all work.....sort of. My experience is that it depends on the hat if the stretch takes or not. Firstly let me say they were meant to ease out a hat that was just a midge too tight not take it up an entire size or more. Secondly it depends on the hat itself. Some I have eased out and they stayed eased. Most others eventually reverted to original size. If it is a hat I wear a lot I will just leave the stretcher at the size and replace it inside the hat at the end of the day. That is the only sure fire way of keeping to size.
    Some custom hat makers will supply you with a wooden band block in your exact size to place in the hat when finished for the day. This insures the hat stays exactly to size. Well I use my stretcher for the same purpose.
     
  17. Frunobulax

    Frunobulax

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    Also, take some steam to the hat where the crown meets the brim while you're doing it. Do this in increments and let it rest for awhile before going further.

    Sent directly from my mind to yours.
     
    Dm101 likes this.
  18. Dm101

    Dm101 A-List Customer

    Messages:
    498
    Location:
    Maryland

    Hmm...this only leads me closer to taking a trip to another state to get a hat that is built for my head.
    I can't see having to use the stretcher every night/day just to be able to wear this hat.
    Too high maintenance.
    Like a spoiled pretty girl, very nice to look at...too much trouble to keep.
    This hat has to go.
    There is better for me.

    Thank you for the advice, but I think I'll just sell it. If no one buys it I'm chucking this in the fire and counting it a $120.00 loss. Far too much maintenance for something that's supposed to just work.
     
  19. Andrew friedhofen

    Andrew friedhofen New in Town

    Messages:
    27
    First time posting here. What's the correct way to stretch a hat? I have an early electric stretcher but I don't use the heat because it gets too hot. I've had limited success.
    Thanks
    Andy
     
    Hat and Rehat likes this.
  20. Mustang Mike's Hats

    Mustang Mike's Hats A-List Customer

    Messages:
    393
    Location:
    Southern California
    Welcome Andrew! Al lot depends on whether you just need to resize slightly, or if you're attempting to enlarge the crown itself. If the sweatband is still attached, your options are a bit more limited.

    A steamer (or any good source of concentrated steam) is a must and you want the felt as pliable as possible. Also, the age of the felt and sweatband, type of body (Western weight or Dress weight) need to be considered. I guess in short, there is no "simple" answer. Provide more info and I'm certain there are a number of us here that can assist.
     
    Cornshucker77 and belfastboy like this.

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