Stretching a hat - advice please....

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

  1. Stuffsmith

    Stuffsmith Fedora Lounge Artisan

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    I wish it was cheaper to find Hat Jacks in Australia - they cost around $40-45 each here, which makes it painful if I need several around... Anyone know of some reasonable and good-quality hat stretchers for Down Under?
     
  2. rlk

    rlk I'll Lock Up

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    Yes--it only stretches(expands) the sweatband/base of the crown--it doesn't resize your hat. Beware of the bulge-especially with thin felts if you do too much.
     
  3. alanfgag

    alanfgag

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    +1... on thin felts, you can wind up casting an impression of the sweatband and even the sweatband bow into the felt.
     
  4. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    Tight Hat Remedy?

    I have a couple of hats that I really like but they're both too tight for me. One is a 3X Open Road size 7 and the other is a pretty rare Bradford Open Road clone. Both hats are in excellent clean condition. My 7 1/8 Bradford fits as tight as my size 7 Stetson. Anyway, I thought of having them stretched but stretching is only a temporary fix. I thought of having them resized but for the money I would spend for that I could buy a couple more hats....Then a friend of mine and a hatter's site I visited suggested cutting the stitching on the back of the sweat band to make them fit. What do you guys think about that?
     
  5. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

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    Seems like a pretty lame fix to me. Why not just invest a few bucks in a hat stretcher.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  6. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    A hat stretcher sounds like the best idea.
     
  7. G MAN

    G MAN One of the Regulars

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    Ontario Canada
    I had a hat stretched for me by a Hat shop that had a very nice heated stretcher, but the hat was tight again the next day. I would buy your own hat stretcher and keep it in the hat until it keeps the size, but they can only make a small change and one size up would probably be the max.
    If the hats require more than a small increase you should get them resized or sell them to some one who will enjoy them as is.
     
  8. I've got quite a few 7 1/2's that I have gently coaxed to fit my 7 5/8 LO noggin with vintage hat stretchers.
    Never needed to or considered cutting the sweat stitching.
    I condition the leather sweat, steam the outside felt area at the base of the crown, put in the stretcher & leave for a few days, gently increasing the pressure...4 of these are pristine, vintage Stetsons. I also have a band block made by Art Fawcett that I put in the hats periodically if I don't get to wear them for a while.
    So, I don't think it is a very good idea coming from a hatter's site...
     
  9. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    Maybe cutting the sweat is out of the question then. I'll probably have to part with my Open Road. Stretching a size 7 to a 7 1/8 Long Oval might be a bit risky....here's my 3X Open Road...Dang it! Hate parting with it but maybe I can swap it for something that fits me...

    Open Road 7, 01.jpg

    Open Road 7, 02.jpg
     
  10. alanfgag

    alanfgag

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    When a hat resists being coaxed back to its original size or a slightly larger version thereof, it is the sweatband that is doing the resisting. If the leather is dry and fragile, it will often rip at a point weaker than the rear seam. If the sweatband is in usable shape but not very flexible, it might well separate at the rear seam when stretched. Removing the stitching or cutting the tape if a taped rear seam will allow a tight fit to relax and may allow you to wear it in comfort while retaining the original components. Unlike a torn sweatband, this modification can be reversed if desired in the future. If you don't mind how it looks, I don't think it is a bad way to go.
     
  11. TheDane

    TheDane Call Me a Cab

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    From 7 to 7 1/8 Long Oval is a one size stretch. That should be possible. If you trawl through threads you'll see that lots of loungers have done that. I have done on three hats without any problems at all. Treat the leather with some conditioner and moist or steam the felt - then do the stretching slowly. You probably have to stretch a couple of times, but then the new shape usually stays
     
  12. TheDane

    TheDane Call Me a Cab

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    PS: As Alan points out: The leather has to be in good condition in the first place, if you choose to stretch :)
     
  13. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks Alan. That's reassuring. The sweat is in excellent shape and still soft and supple but I'm thinking there would still be a risk to tearing the sweat stretching it up that much. Someone on ebay ruined a good sweat on his OR when he tried stretching it from a 7 to a 7 1/8 LO. So I was a bit apprehensive about stretching it. Like you, I thought cutting the stitching would be a safer bet than stretching since it is a reversible option. Will cutting the stitching on this size 7 give me the 7 1/8 LO that I need? That's the other question.

    Thanks Dane...
     
  14. This is VERY feasible if your sweatband is in good condition.
    That is too nice of an OR to not gently stretch even with a Hat Jack type stretcher.
    Get some Lexol conditioner wipes, wipe down the sweat, put the stretcher in, steam the hatband ribbon area well & gently open up the stretcher a few turns, let it sit...
     
  15. Short Balding Guy

    Short Balding Guy I'll Lock Up

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    +1. The sage advise suggesting steam, conditioner and patient stretching has worked for me many times. Changing the 1 size is not hard to accomplish. The caveats of leather condition being obvious, I would strongly advise steam for the felt. When I hadn't steamed the felt I could see some changes to the crown and the crown/brim edge under close scrutinty. Unless you were very close you would not see, but I know. With steam, the density and smoothness has been maintained to my satisfaction.

    As to returning to shape, I put my next days hat on a hat shaper either the evening before wearing it or during my morning administrations and my hat is ready to go.

    Great hat. Best wishes, Eric -
     
  16. HeyMoe

    HeyMoe Practically Family

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    Exactly what I do.
     
  17. blazerbud

    blazerbud One of the Regulars

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    Chattanooga, TN
    Proceed with caution:
    This is what I have done with great results, but you are at your own risk.
    Fold the leather band inside out. Wet it, or dampen it. Wipe off the excess water. Fold it back the way it goes, then insert hat stretcher. Crank it gently, wait a few minutes, crank it some more until it is where you want it. You can put the hat on your head to check then reinsert the stretcher, or measure the stretcher with a tape.
    Let it dry with the stretcher in it. It takes a week or so. Do not stretch to the point where it puts a crease on the felt. I have had great success like this. That is what I would do, but it's your call. And a thin ribbon hat may show evidence of being stretched.
     
  18. dnjan

    dnjan One Too Many

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    Seattle
    Have a band block made. It will not only keep your hat "stretched" - it will also help the hat to "learn" the idiosyncrasies of your head.
     
  19. When a wet sweat dries, necessary oils from the leather go with the water that evaporates, so make sure you replace them by using some leather condition = Lexol conditioner wipes mentioned earlier.
    Leather shrinks when it gets wet & then dries because these oils leave & the leather pores close up.
     
  20. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

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    A.C.Lyles, G Man, Feraud, gt dean, Alan, Dane, Eric, Hey Moe, blazerbud, dnjan...Thanks guys. Much appreciated...another option would be for me to trade it off another OR that fits me, but first I have to find someone who wears a size 7!...why was everyone back in the day a size 7 and under?
     

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