Vintage Shrinkage: a little help...

Discussion in 'Hats' started by kiltie, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. kiltie

    kiltie Practically Family

    lone star state

    The set-up -
    Night: 85 degrees. High humidity.
    Dinner, drinks, dancing, drinks ( repeat, save for the dinner part ).
    Wearing 1950's Stetson Open Road.

    Home after two am. Tossed the hat on the table.

    My favorite vintage hat shrank a full size, at least!!!

    The plan -
    Kiwi leather lotion around the inside of the sweatband, then on the jack over night. Tight, but not to strech yet.
    Re-apply Kiwi, then on the jack to stretch, over a light steam.

    The hat jack over light steam worked well for stretching my Federation IV, as they tend to run maybe a quarter to half a size small. However, my OR has gone down a full step, for sure. I look like a pinhead ( more than usual ).

    Anyone want to throw something in on this? Suggestions? Leave it to a professional?

  2. BanjoMerlin

    BanjoMerlin A-List Customer

    New Hampshire, USA
    That's what taught me to put wet hats on the stretcher to dry...

    When I have one shrink 'cause I didn't get it on the stretcher I just wet the sweatband with water, wet the felt around the sweatband with water and put the hat on the stretcher to dry at the desired size. I don't go crazy when I'm encouraging a hat to go back the size and shape it was a day or two ago.
  3. suitedcboy

    suitedcboy One Too Many

    Your mistake was taking it off. Get it sweaty, wear it to bed, always works.
    Either your hat stays sized or your head ends up with a hat depression guaranteed to keep a lid on in a Texas windstorm.
  4. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Problem with those old sweats is that they have lost their natural oils and once that's gone, well you can't make the leather the same. The more it's worn, the more it's likely to take in water then dry out and shrink and maybe start to crack. It's different from sweatband to sweatband as well.. I have a few 30s hats with great sweatbands whereas my 50s hats have sweats that tend to be drawn in and cracking.

    In the end though, the best bet against a shrinking sweat is just to replace that beautiful vintage embossed piece of leather with a new sweat. Optimo in Chicago always does a great job.
  5. HarpPlayerGene

    HarpPlayerGene I'll Lock Up

    North Central Florida
    Occasionally happens to some of mine too. I just plug the tight hat on and let it warm up and dampen again so it relaxes after a while. Kind of a headache but whatcha' gonna' do? By going through this, though, I'm able to eventually 'train' a hat to fit like a custom on my knotty head shape. After it's broken in, I do try to remember to put it on a block or a hat-jack overnight after wearing in the heat. Remember that part of it is the leather shrinking, and part of it is the grosgrain ribbon fighting you. Water on the ribbon relaxes it and improves your chances of whatever method you use to stretch the leather inside.

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