Stretching a hat - advice please....

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

  1. Undertow

    Undertow My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Des Moines, IA, US
  2. +1
  3. The Wiser Hatter

    The Wiser Hatter I'll Lock Up

    Louisville, Ky
    I am a 7 3/8 and did the stretch thing a couple of times. My reply would be to get a 7 3/8 you will not be happy with the results.
    You will find 7 3/8's hats they are not that uncommon and you will be much happier with a hat in your size than one that you have stretch to the your size.
  4. 1961MJS

    1961MJS My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Norman Oklahoma

    Really, 7 3/8's is a pretty common hat size. I have to stretch my hats a little to keep them big enough. Apparently the bunny fur shrinks a little.

  5. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Isle of Langerhan, NY
    I wouldn't go up more than one size with either a stretcher or a block.
  6. lauro13

    lauro13 One of the Regulars

    San Francisco
  7. jlee562

    jlee562 I'll Lock Up

    San Francisco, CA
    Since you're in San Francisco, I would take it to Paul's Hat Works on Geary and let them stretch it. You could stretch it with a hat stretcher yourself, but it would probably distort the crown going up two sizes.

    For future reference, for brief questions such as this, the best option usually is the "ask a question, get an answer" thread stickied at the top of the forum. Questions such as this have also been answered throughout that thread.
  8. new2hats

    new2hats One of the Regulars

    using hat stretchers

    I have a bunch of Panama hats that I need to stretch because they are slightly too small.

    My question is, do I wet/steam the hat stretcher and/or the hat (if so- inside or outside of the hat?). Steaming seems like it is not enough, so my current experiment is actually lightly wetting the hat stretcher and waiting over night for it to dry while in the hat.

    Also, do I apply the hat stretcher inside the hat, on top of the inner band (esp if cloth), or pull up the inner band and apply the hat stretcher directly to the straw (as this is what will make the hat stretch, esp if the inner band is leather)?

    Another idea which I have not tried yet is to just apply the hat stretcher and steam the crap out of the hat on the outside then let it dry overnight, but I don't want to ruin the nice ribbon on top if it.

    Any suggestions? Has anyone tore a hat or ruined one by stretching inappropriately?

  9. bennyboyca

    bennyboyca New in Town

    Hi folks, well, I've been looking for a nice hat now for a while, the right colour/ shade/ size/ style and today, I have come across one on eBay!! It is a vintage Open Road- very nice....

    BUT, and there is a but, not sure how big that BUT is, but I'm hoping you good people will tell me, it is a size smaller than I wear... It is a size 7 3/8 and I am a 7 1/2. My question is, what are the chances of stretching it up to 7 1/2? Will it damage the hat? Has anyone here tried it before, and if so what it the best way to do it? Do I buy the hat and go for it or just leave it?


  10. Stretching up to 1 size has been covered many times in the Lounge. It can be done but it is an ongoing thing. The hat will naturally return to the original size unless you get it re-blocked by a hatter. Get at Hat-Jack or similar hat stretcher. Steam the outside of the crown, down around the sweatband, NEVER steam the sweatband. Put in the stretcher & crank it tight then a few more turns, repeat. Do it gradually. When you are not wearing that hat, put the stretcher in it to maintain the new larger size.

    Oh yea, keep the sweatband conditioned...
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  11. Richard Warren

    Richard Warren Practically Family

    Bay City
    give it up.
  12. TomS

    TomS One Too Many

    I've stretched a few with mixed results. Why dont you just post a WTB here on the forum? That way you'll get exactly what you need. ..I'm almost certain you'd find one.
  13. danofarlington

    danofarlington My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Arlington, Virginia
    I'm not sure I buy that hats can stretch very much. I had two tight hats stretched, and they're still tight. Now, I only buy hats that are stated as my size, and if they don't fit then, it's unusual. This is the same rule I have with suits. Now suits, I go to my size. If they suit doesn't hang well on my judging from the mirror, I don't buy. The salesman always is there to say "we'll have Joe in the back take care of this and that and the roll in the back and everything you think is wrong with it." Horsefeathers. If a suit doesn't fit you off the rack, all the backroom fiddling in the world isn't going to make it a good suit for you. Go for the suit that fits you well when you put it on, and that one you can fiddle with in the back room. This rule has served me very well in the 25 years since I adopted it.
  14. The Wiser Hatter

    The Wiser Hatter I'll Lock Up

    Louisville, Ky
    When the hat bug bites we all can get impatience and want to get a hat that just might fit. Wait for the right size you will be much happier with the purchase.
    At 7 1/2" US sizing that Open Road hat can get pricey so start saving for it now.:)
  15. LoveMyHats2

    LoveMyHats2 I’ll Lock Up.

    This Chap seems to have taken a different approach for being able to wear a hat a few sizes! ( I envy him greatly)!
  16. Also going down a size step with some cloth felt or other material behind the sweat band is easier than stretching. Streching can warp the hat making weird buldges in places so the hat looks askew or mis-shapen when done by the inexperienced.
  17. Walt

    Walt One of the Regulars

    Up to half size stretches done slowly and gently probably ok in general--though still not without risk. Beyond that might work but can also be very risky. Probably better to re-block and replace sweatband for anything more than half size. I would ask myself, do I feel lucky and will I not care if I mess up the hat.

    Leather and ribbons don't stretch as well as wet fur felt either. Leather conditioner might keep leather from breaking, but no guarantees it won't.

    You might get lucky or you might wreck a hat trying to go one or more sizes...

    I have never been willing to try and make huge stretches for a hat that is worth something. I might try doing it to a beater than will never be worth anything just to see what happens.
  18. Lotsahats

    Lotsahats One Too Many

    Very true, Ed. I've only been at this for maybe six months, but in that short time, I've learned to be patient. Figure out what you like, then save your money while you build up to a nice custom or until that perfect hat lands in the bay. A great deal on a hat you won't wear isn't a great deal. /looks at that stingy brim and sighs

  19. LoveMyHats2

    LoveMyHats2 I’ll Lock Up.

    I think perhaps many of us souls here, find a hat for sale some place on the internet, and can about dream of owning it, yet when reviewing the size, the instant "frown" seems to set in as we notice it is a hat size not going to happens perhaps many times for any one of us.

    My own "habits" about hats seems to trend to having as many questions asked before purchase, but even that is not 100 percent accurate. I had one hat arrive, it was measured by the seller and was stated to be a 7 3/8 or larger, but when I put it on the first time, I know it was really a 7 1/4 that someone had pulled it to a larger size, but not even a 7 3/8. The hat was vintage but in such great condition and all the sewing of the leather sweatband in such fantastic shape yet, there was no way I would even desire to do anything to it personally. it went to the pro for being made my size. Four weeks and $55.00 later the hat came back, fit me perfectly, and nothing was destroyed.

    I do have a hat jack, but unless a hat is "close" and needs very little movement, I am not going to take the risk some others maybe would do to make a hat a larger size.

    What you can do (something I think would make a large difference if you decide to tweak a hat a bit) make a sweat band guard, I have done this a few times, a guard that you can slip behind the leather sweatband instead of pulling it all the way out and down....I use long strips of wax paper or flat smooth strips of aluminum foil, place them behind the leather to protect the hat body and liner, then use some leather conditioner on the sweatband. Apply more than one coat, and after you can see and feel that it has soaked in, then I spray a mist or distilled water around the outside of the hat near the hat ribbon area, steam it around a few times with my steam kettle and then put the hat jack in the hat and tighten it up. I leave it alone for a hour or two, then go back and spray a mist of water again, steam all the way around the hat again, (hat jack is still inside the hat while doing this) and will tug up the hat jack a bit more. I did this to my Vintage Stratoliner and it worked without any destructive results. After letting the hat sit over night and with the hat jack still in the hat, I use my hat brush and hat sponge for about 40 minutes going all over the hat. The hat was in super nice condition and it looked as good as new when I was all done. The leather sweatband is soft and supple and no damage at all to anything. I then took out the hat jack and the wax paper I had used behind the sweatband. To date I have not yet had to use the hat jack on that hat since doing this, it has remained a great fit.
    M Hatman likes this.
  20. Redfan45x

    Redfan45x New in Town

    Spring Valley, Minnesota
    Hat stretchers- Yay? Nay?

    Has anyone had any badluck with them? Or are they relatively useful for keeping the size of a hat?
    I have one, but never have used it yet. Now that I actually have a fedora which fits me, it might be time to?

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