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What Hat Are You Working On Today?

Messages
11,160
A bit of a case of the Good News… Bad Newses attempting to reattach the sweatband on this old Bailey of California

GOOD NEWS
It appeared it was just the stitching that rotted away and I could use the original holes sew it back

BAD NEWS
Even though the original holes were still in tact. After pushing The needle through it turns out there was dry rot at the edges after all and the thread was tearing the leather

GOOD NEWS
the sweat was thin and soft enough I was easily able to push the needle through deeper into the sweat to sew it on Gently using bigger loops so as not to pull the stitches too tight and tear the leather.

BAD NEWS
My sewing skills are so poor they make Dr Frankenstein proud.

GOOD NEWS
It is reattached for now And feels comfy.

BAD NEWS
One solid sweat will probably shrivel this old sweat up like a raisin. (So I’ll try not to let that happen)

IMG_20230822_170545671_Original.jpeg
IMG_20230822_170518289_Original.jpeg
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,688
Location
Central Ohio
A bit of a case of the Good News… Bad Newses attempting to reattach the sweatband on this old Bailey of California

GOOD NEWS
It appeared it was just the stitching that rotted away and I could use the original holes sew it back

BAD NEWS
Even though the original holes were still in tact. After pushing The needle through it turns out there was dry rot at the edges after all and the thread was tearing the leather

GOOD NEWS
the sweat was thin and soft enough I was easily able to push the needle through deeper into the sweat to sew it on Gently using bigger loops so as not to pull the stitches too tight and tear the leather.

BAD NEWS
My sewing skills are so poor they make Dr Frankenstein proud.

GOOD NEWS
It is reattached for now And feels comfy.

BAD NEWS
One solid sweat will probably shrivel this old sweat up like a raisin. (So I’ll try not to let that happen)

View attachment 542039 View attachment 542040
Well, there comes a time in a man's life when he faces the realization that he needs a new sweat band. This is one of those times. ;)
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,852
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Two Civil War styled hats that I’ve built to my own interpretation and taste.
One using an officer’s cord and one with a foot soldier’s cord.
I can wear either according to how I feel. Willing to be a fearless leader of an army that’ll experience victory or defeat, or willing to charge the enemy armed only with a single shot rifle and a strong heart.
However, most days I’m happy to wear a 40s/50s civilian fedora with the hope that Americans will never again fall in battle fields brother against brother.
0B30F841-5A8C-4329-B03A-D0F44F4B24AA.jpeg
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bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
I just started two projects. Here’s the first:

I had this Resistol western with a cattleman crease and high sides that i objectively like, but doesn’t get enough head time, so I put a sort of Gus in it, and wanted to try my hand with a kettle curl without a curling shackle/iron. It took some patience, but so far I’m happy with how the felt is responding. Basically lots of water, steam and a clothes iron.
 

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bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
Two Civil War styled hats that I’ve built to my own interpretation and taste.
One using an officer’s cord and one with a foot soldier’s cord.
I can wear either according to how I feel. Willing to be a fearless leader of an army that’ll experience victory or defeat, or willing to charge the enemy armed only with a single shot rifle and a strong heart.
However, most days I’m happy to wear a 40s/50s civilian fedora with the hope that Americans will never again fall in battle fields brother against brother. View attachment 542365 View attachment 542366 View attachment 542364
I really like both of those, particularly how you’ve done the ribbons— width, color, bow, etc. Needle and thread is still the scariest and sloppiest part for me.
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
My second project right now:

Started blocking my second hat, using the “other” block that I have. Both of my blocks are tall-ish, with little taper, but there are some subtle variations. One is a 52, and one is a 25. This is on the 25.

I used an undyed natural felt body, all rabbit. It is super thick and heavy western weight, at 230g which made it a little more difficult to work with.

Later in the week I’ll trim the brim and get a sweatband in. I picked up a couple of leather tools, and am optimistic that they will improve my sweatband installing game. I do not have a sewing machine.
 

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The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,477
Location
Northern Alabama
My second project right now:

Started blocking my second hat, using the “other” block that I have. Both of my blocks are tall-ish, with little taper, but there are some subtle variations. One is a 52, and one is a 25. This is on the 25.

I used an undyed natural felt body, all rabbit. It is super thick and heavy western weight, at 230g which made it a little more difficult to work with.

Later in the week I’ll trim the brim and get a sweatband in. I picked up a couple of leather tools, and am optimistic that they will improve my sweatband installing game. I do not have a sewing machine.
I thought to purchase a hat body and try my hand at making one, but how do you shrink it without a pressure machine?
 
Messages
19,258
Location
Funkytown, USA
I thought to purchase a hat body and try my hand at making one, but how do you shrink it without a pressure machine?

Normally, the felt hat body is stretched over the block for a period of time so it conforms to that shape and "remembers" it. If your body is too big for your block, shrinking with hot water can be done.

@T Jones has given good advice on this in the past. Perhaps he'll weigh in.
 

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,477
Location
Northern Alabama
Normally, the felt hat body is stretched over the block for a period of time so it conforms to that shape and "remembers" it. If your body is too big for your block, shrinking with hot water can be done.

@T Jones has given good advice on this in the past. Perhaps he'll weigh in.
So you can just wet the hat blank and stick it on a block and it will shrink to the block size? I mean, I’ve done that an Akubra but I didn’t expect it to work on higher quality felt without pressure.
 
Messages
19,258
Location
Funkytown, USA
So you can just wet the hat blank and stick it on a block and it will shrink to the block size? I mean, I’ve done that an Akubra but I didn’t expect it to work on higher quality felt without pressure.

I'm usually trying to stretch, not shrink, my felts, so my experience is limited. However Terry has indicated he has worked with vintage felts and shrunk them with hot tap water.

I'm not sure what a pressure device would look like anyway. A chamber?
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
This has intentionally been an exploration of discovery for me so far; I didn't want to know too much -- I basically use what I've learned here over the years, watch some Youtube videos, and see how close I can get with household items and no real training... YET.

Other than finding these two blocks and one flange/ flange stand in my size over the years, the only real tool I've invested in is the rounding jack, although I think I'd like a curling shackle.

So I just wet and steam the body real good, and push/pull it down to stretch over my block. You might be able to see instead of a puller downer, a pusher downer, or a tollicker, I'm just using a window screen splining tool, a string with a hatters knot, and a clothes iron to stretch it over and create the brim break. Then I leave it for a couple days (unless I get curious and take it off the block to examine it briefly in the meantime).

For the hats I'm trying to make so far, the flange does not apply, and the flat brim press didn't seem crucial. I get it to accurate sizing with the sweatband.

Since I don't have a spinny thing, I just pounce by hand with sandpaper sponges, and I'm hoping to try out the fire thing for the first time with this hat.

I might even get fancy and attempt a ribbon on this one, if I can source some nice stuff, but leather and beaded bands seem so much easier to me!
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,688
Location
Central Ohio
I'm usually trying to stretch, not shrink, my felts, so my experience is limited. However Terry has indicated he has worked with vintage felts and shrunk them with hot tap water.

I'm not sure what a pressure device would look like anyway. A chamber?
Well, it's a little more involved than just hot tap water, but still a very simple and easy method. I mostly use steam to soften the felt. On the more stubborn projects I use both hot water and steam. On shrinking the felt down a size or two I use hot water to soak the felt and soften it up. After that I'll put it on the block and tie my cord around the hat body as tight as I can get it, using a square knot rather that a hatter's slip knot. Then I push my cord down over the hat body, pulling at the body as I push down on the cord to get out any air bubbles and making sure it's stretched tight to the block. After that, leave it tied to the block for a couple of days and you'll have a larger hat shrunk down to your size. So the whole idea of wetting the felt in hot water and using steam is not about shrinking but rather to soften the felt body so you can work with it.
 
Last edited:

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,477
Location
Northern Alabama
I'm usually trying to stretch, not shrink, my felts, so my experience is limited. However Terry has indicated he has worked with vintage felts and shrunk them with hot tap water.

I'm not sure what a pressure device would look like anyway. A chamber?
Maybe I’ve misunderstood from some of the professional videos I’ve seen but I thought what I saw was the hat blank being put on the desired block size and then the whole thing being put in a large iron machine that closes around it and adds lots of steam and pressure to shrink it from blank size to desired size.

Maybe I misunderstood the process (would not surprise me), but that would actually be good news since it means I can buy a blank and experiment for myself.
 

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,477
Location
Northern Alabama
This has intentionally been an exploration of discovery for me so far; I didn't want to know too much -- I basically use what I've learned here over the years, watch some Youtube videos, and see how close I can get with household items and no real training... YET.

Other than finding these two blocks and one flange/ flange stand in my size over the years, the only real tool I've invested in is the rounding jack, although I think I'd like a curling shackle.

So I just wet and steam the body real good, and push/pull it down to stretch over my block. You might be able to see instead of a puller downer, a pusher downer, or a tollicker, I'm just using a window screen splining tool, a string with a hatters knot, and a clothes iron to stretch it over and create the brim break. Then I leave it for a couple days (unless I get curious and take it off the block to examine it briefly in the meantime).

For the hats I'm trying to make so far, the flange does not apply, and the flat brim press didn't seem crucial. I get it to accurate sizing with the sweatband.

Since I don't have a spinny thing, I just pounce by hand with sandpaper sponges, and I'm hoping to try out the fire thing for the first time with this hat.

I might even get fancy and attempt a ribbon on this one, if I can source some nice stuff, but leather and beaded bands seem so much easier to me!

Well, it's a little more involved than just hot tap water. I mostly use steam to soften the felt. On the more stubborn projects I use both hot water and steam. On shrinking the felt down a size or two I use hot water to soak the felt and soften it up. After that I'll put it on the block and tie my cord around the hat body as tight as I can get it, using a square knot rather that a hatter's slip knot. Then I push my cord down over the hat body, pulling at the body as I push down on the cord to get out any air bubbles and making sure it's stretched tight to the block. After that, leave it tied to the block for a couple of days and you'll have a larger hat shrunk down to your size. So the whole idea of wetting the felt in hot water and using steam is to soften the felt body so you can work with it.
Awesome, thanks guys.

What you two describe is what I would like to try. The only reason I didn’t do it yet was I thought I needed a machine to shrink the felt.

I’m just this week investing in a Gannon so I won’t be able to afford a hat body for a little while, but I’m definitely going to try it for my next new hat.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,852
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
I really like both of those, particularly how you’ve done the ribbons— width, color, bow, etc. Needle and thread is still the scariest and sloppiest part for me.
Thanks, bro!
The one with gold ribbon, believe it or not, was a black ribbon and bow from a 60s vintage hat that I bleached. Black ribbon changes to gold. Who knew? Then I used diluted brown shoe leather die to mimic patina and sweat stains.


Looks like you’ve got both of those whipped into shape and look great!
I’ve yet to build a hat from a scratch hat body, but have come by four beaver/rabbit blends recently that I can’t wait to get started on.
 
Messages
11,160
Awesome, thanks guys.

What you two describe is what I would like to try. The only reason I didn’t do it yet was I thought I needed a machine to shrink the felt.

I’m just this week investing in a Gannon so I won’t be able to afford a hat body for a little while, but I’m definitely going to try it for my next new hat.
Are you thinking of taking a larger hat and downsizing it .. or making a hat from a fresh body? If it’s from a fresh felt I don’t think you will need to shrink. Robert @belfastboy might be able to assist with some advice.
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,688
Location
Central Ohio
Are you thinking of taking a larger hat and downsizing it .. or making a hat from a fresh body? If it’s from a fresh felt I don’t think you will need to shrink. Robert @belfastboy might be able to assist with some advice.
To be clear, my post above was taking a large hat and downsizing it to a smaller size.
 
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Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
In general no they don't. It depends on where you buy the felt. FEPSA makes felts in Med, Large, & XL. Usst only seems to make the one size which is about a L or XL. Winchester makes them in a variety of sizes. So through steaming & blocking you can upsize or downsize according to your size needs.
Fresh felt. Do they come already sized?
.
 

The Lost Cowboy

One Too Many
Messages
1,477
Location
Northern Alabama
In general no they don't. It depends on where you buy the felt. FEPSA makes felts in Med, Large, & XL. Usst only seems to make the one size which is about a L or XL. Winchester makes them in a variety of sizes. So through steaming & blocking you can upsize or downsize according to your size needs.

.
Thanks so much, I’m glad that have that answered. I’m also very glad to learn I can shrink it to size myself. Very exciting!
 

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