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What Hat Are You Working On Today?

fuzzyowl

New in Town
Messages
10
I've been working on a custom order - Sunrise Nutria in the colour Moss.. I'm really amazed by this felt.

Some of their colours have a rougher finish but this is plush, velvety, suede like. And vintage stiffness.. some of their other colours are more stiff. Odd.

I was wondering if anyone has tips for brim binding - It stresses me out significantly and I'm looking for ways to automate it using my sewing machine! I know it's possible but I was wondering if a hatter could point me in the right direction!

Cheers.
IMG_20230925_193516_272~2.jpg
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
You can shrink it easily unless you are using a large felt and you have a small head size. Then it is more difficult as you might end up with puckers in the crown as you have excess felt. But there are techniques you can use to bring it all into line.
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!
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
I've been working on a custom order - Sunrise Nutria in the colour Moss.. I'm really amazed by this felt.

Some of their colours have a rougher finish but this is plush, velvety, suede like. And vintage stiffness.. some of their other colours are more stiff. Odd.

I was wondering if anyone has tips for brim binding - It stresses me out significantly and I'm looking for ways to automate it using my sewing machine! I know it's possible but I was wondering if a hatter could point me in the right direction!

Cheers.
View attachment 548387
It takes about 90 minutes to complete even with a sewing machine. I find the more attention I give to the hand basting the easier the final machine stitch becomes. Take the time to swirl the ribbon properly as that helps to get the good tight fit.

Then using magic clips form the ribbon to the brim and begin the hand baste stitch. Once that is complete then I use the machine for the final sewing but don't use the foot pedal. I hand turn the machine one stitch at a time. It takes about 10-15 minutes for that but saves time in the long run and produces a tight/even job. No special sewing foot is required.
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
I've been working on a custom order - Sunrise Nutria in the colour Moss.. I'm really amazed by this felt.

Some of their colours have a rougher finish but this is plush, velvety, suede like. And vintage stiffness.. some of their other colours are more stiff. Odd.

I was wondering if anyone has tips for brim binding - It stresses me out significantly and I'm looking for ways to automate it using my sewing machine! I know it's possible but I was wondering if a hatter could point me in the right direction!

Cheers.
View attachment 548387
That looks fantastic! Great color, and very nice work! I wouldn't have the slightest clue as to how to do brim binding. That's several levels past where I am currently.
 

bowlerman

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,294
Location
South Dakota
So my second hat build is complete. Again imperfect, but definitely much cleaner than my first hat, in lots of ways.

I'm not sure I'll leave the brim this way, but maybe that's a job for a curling shackle if I ever get one. I cut it to 3 1/2".

I would also like to add a matching ribbon, hopefully just a shade lighter than the felt itself, but as I've noted before, sewing is a distant pipe dream. No idea what I'm doing. I don't even know what this "basting stitch" means, but will be looking it up before long.

All I know is that you push the needle in and out and it has to have thread in it, and then the thing holds to the other thing and you tie a knot so it doesn't unravel.

You can see in the photos that the crack in this old block showed through the felt, on the right side of the finished hat photo.

But, like my first one, it has all the parts to be considered a hat, and it fits on my head, so I'll consider this a victory!
 

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Woodtroll

One Too Many
Messages
1,235
Location
Mtns. of SW Virginia
It takes about 90 minutes to complete even with a sewing machine. I find the more attention I give to the hand basting the easier the final machine stitch becomes. Take the time to swirl the ribbon properly as that helps to get the good tight fit.

Then using magic clips form the ribbon to the brim and begin the hand baste stitch. Once that is complete then I use the machine for the final sewing but don't use the foot pedal. I hand turn the machine one stitch at a time. It takes about 10-15 minutes for that but saves time in the long run and produces a tight/even job. No special sewing foot is required.

I can attest that Robert does a fantastic job on brim binding - the time he takes to set it up really shows. He just recently made me a hat with a narrow brim binding and did a flawless job on it. I would think that narrow bindings would be tougher than wider ones, because of the small ribbon being used and because being narrow, any dimensional or stitching difference would show up more readily. Advice he gives on hat making is certainly worth paying attention to. ;)
 

Woodtroll

One Too Many
Messages
1,235
Location
Mtns. of SW Virginia
So my second hat build is complete. Again imperfect, but definitely much cleaner than my first hat, in lots of ways.

I'm not sure I'll leave the brim this way, but maybe that's a job for a curling shackle if I ever get one. I cut it to 3 1/2".

I would also like to add a matching ribbon, hopefully just a shade lighter than the felt itself, but as I've noted before, sewing is a distant pipe dream. No idea what I'm doing. I don't even know what this "basting stitch" means, but will be looking it up before long.

All I know is that you push the needle in and out and it has to have thread in it, and then the thing holds to the other thing and you tie a knot so it doesn't unravel.

You can see in the photos that the crack in this old block showed through the felt, on the right side of the finished hat photo.

But, like my first one, it has all the parts to be considered a hat, and it fits on my head, so I'll consider this a victory!
Very nice results! I've fooled with shaping, ribbons, sweatbands, blocking to a small degree, and other miscellaneous tinkering on hats enough to know that it's not as easy as some of the guys on here make it look! But you definitely learn from every attempt. I think you should be proud of the way this one turned out!
 

fuzzyowl

New in Town
Messages
10

The way you've outlined has served me very well but I have been made jealous by a video of a hatmaker using a binding attachment and doing it within a matter of a few minutes! It was a generic machine not intended for hatmaking.

I am sure over time I will get faster but I am left wondering about possibilities. Cheers!
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
The way you've outlined has served me very well but I have been made jealous by a video of a hatmaker using a binding attachment and doing it within a matter of a few minutes! It was a generic machine not intended for hatmaking.

I am sure over time I will get faster but I am left wondering about possibilities. Cheers!
We have experimented with different attachments but none have really worked. I am never in a great hurry and love the process of crafting a hat so am content to continue doing it this way. One day an upgrade may come along but in the meanwhile I don't waste any time in the search. Crafting a hat takes 8 - 12 hours for me and I love every moment of it so time is at my command.
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
The way you've outlined has served me very well but I have been made jealous by a video of a hatmaker using a binding attachment and doing it within a matter of a few minutes! It was a generic machine not intended for hatmaking.

I am sure over time I will get faster but I am left wondering about possibilities. Cheers!
For most custom hatters the one piece of equipment that offers the greatest time saving is that of an ASM sewing machine for sweat bands. It takes me 80 minutes to complete the operation and once the ASM is mastered it takes under 10 minutes. So it offers huge time savings.......however at the cost of $4000 it gives one pause.
The next would be a crown iron or brim press but they are about $10 grand each. Then in my dreams I see owning a finger blocker but they can run you $50grand. So to set up a hat making business with machinery you are looking at just a bit of change from $100grand. One of the biggest decisions a hatter has to make is to discern the scale within which one chooses to work.
Next month I am travelling to visit a hatter than is about to take delivery of his brim press. It is a smaller table top press not the cast iron beasts of old. I am thinking.....maybe.
 

fuzzyowl

New in Town
Messages
10
For most custom hatters the one piece of equipment that offers the greatest time saving is that of an ASM sewing machine for sweat bands. It takes me 80 minutes to complete the operation and once the ASM is mastered it takes under 10 minutes. So it offers huge time savings.......however at the cost of $4000 it gives one pause.
The next would be a crown iron or brim press but they are about $10 grand each. Then in my dreams I see owning a finger blocker but they can run you $50grand. So to set up a hat making business with machinery you are looking at just a bit of change from $100grand. One of the biggest decisions a hatter has to make is to discern the scale within which one chooses to work.
Next month I am travelling to visit a hatter than is about to take delivery of his brim press. It is a smaller table top press not the cast iron beasts of old. I am thinking.....maybe.
Funny enough I enjoy stitching the sweatbands more than binding - but certainly that could help move things along too! All very expensive equipment..

Brim presses interest me - particularly sandbaggers (?) I have imagined with some restorations of stiff felt that such a thing could save some grief!
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
Funny enough I enjoy stitching the sweatbands more than binding - but certainly that could help move things along too! All very expensive equipment..

Brim presses interest me - particularly sandbaggers (?) I have imagined with some restorations of stiff felt that such a thing could save some grief!
Sandbaggers work best in conjunction with a flange (I have not found they add that much if anything to the process). For western hats or 'festival' hats that require a dead straight flat brim a hydraulic brim press is the only thing that works perfectly. You can somewhat replicate the process by sandwiching the hat between two thick plywood sheets and multiple C clamps but it still does not replicate the 2000+ pounds pressure & heat of an hydraulic press.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,853
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Late 50s/early 60s silverbelly 7XCB OR I’ve dyed black.
It’ll end up with a 5 7/16” crown and 7 13/16” bound brim. already made a black OR style bow and band.
For those that remember, this is the hat I bought for $100 that was completely holed up by moth larvae. Top and bottom. All over.
Sanded it all out. Yes the felt thinned, but I promise, not too much, which is actually a good thing for this prior too stiff and thick felt.
Though thinner, I guarantee 100% beaver does NOT stretch….much. It will, only a bit, if you work your butt off stretching by wet blocking it around 8 times!
Worth all this trouble? Nope. But it’ll be nice owning possibly the only black 7XCB OR in existence.
This hat came to me as a size 7 and also a year ago stretched the original sweat to my size (7 1/4+) with no way of telling it was done. Fact is, it’s a just bit loose! Can’t wait to sport around in it!
After sanding away any trace of divots, the felt looked perfect except for splotchy patches all over from exposing the felt’s original color from the really faded color it came to me. Hence, the reason I decided to dye. So far so good. I had to dye the felt 2 times using an extra stout amount of Rit dye in hot water for an even color. I’ll post finished pics when finished.
1BC95436-EE32-4D91-B71F-DCC6C2B4E593.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
Late 50s/early 60s silverbelly 7XCB OR I’ve dyed black.
It’ll end up with a 5 7/16” crown and 7 13/16” bound brim. already made a black OR style bow and band.
For those that remember, this is the hat I bought for $100 that was completely holed up by moth larvae. Top and bottom. All over.
Sanded it all out. Yes the felt thinned, but I promise, not too much, which is actually a good thing for this prior too stiff and thick felt.
Though thinner, I guarantee 100% beaver does NOT stretch….much. It will, only a bit, if you work your butt off stretching by wet blocking it around 8 times!
Worth all this trouble? Nope. But it’ll be nice owning possibly the only black 7XCB OR in existence.
This hat came to me as a size 7 and also a year ago stretched the original sweat to my size (7 1/4+) with no way of telling it was done. Fact is, it’s a just bit loose! Can’t wait to sport around in it!
After sanding away any trace of divots, the felt looked perfect except for splotchy patches all over from exposing the felt’s original color from the really faded color it came to me. Hence, the reason I decided to dye. So far so good. I had to dye the felt 2 times using an extra stout amount of Rit dye in hot water for an even color. I’ll post finished pics when finished. View attachment 552560
This week I will dye a Bone coloured beaver felt with a black Jacquard acid dye with a touch of burgundy to replicate the original Winchester Black Cherry. I love the process of dyeing felt. I was suprised when I visited Winchester as I expected their dye process to be complicated machinery driven process when in reality it is two guys over a very large vat, large paddles stirring the felts in the dye bath. Pretty basic and straight forward. Just like I do at home only mine is a much smaller scale process.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,853
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Yeah, I would’ve thought there was some type of fanciful process.
Jacquard acid dyes work better than Rit, I’d guess?
I’ll look into that. Thanks, Robert.
Learning is a drawn out progression when it’s all trial and error. Would’ve loved having a knowledgeable teacher.
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
Yeah, I would’ve thought there was some type of fanciful process.
Jacquard acid dyes work better than Rit, I’d guess?
I’ll look into that. Thanks, Robert.
Learning is a drawn out progression when it’s all trial and error. Would’ve loved having a knowledgeable teacher.
After much trial and error I have now good success with Acid dyes. The only issue is I cannot get enough penetration into the core of the brim so I have to bind the brim to hide the original felt colour that is revealed when I trim the brim. I have tried trimming the brim and then dyeing but getting the felt blocked in exactly the same position is almost impossible and I end up with an uneven/dimensional brim. My next step is to begin experimenting with natural dyes (vegetation and insects) to come up with proprietary colours.....something to expand beyond the limited palette of modern felts.
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,688
Location
Central Ohio
Staying in practice to make blocking stubborn Western weight felts easier to manipulate on the block. In the forefront is a thick black Western weight felt in suede finish. I was able to work it to where it was easy to block. The carbon gray Western felt has already been blocked and the brim trimmed. Ive been pretty busy and haven't had time to work on it further just yet. The blue felt in the background will soon be going to a good friend when I finish it.
 

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Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,853
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Since I have yet to build or dye any custom hats from scratch using modern hat bodies, I wouldn’t know what I was in for, but with vintage hats, I’ve not had a problem with pulling the brims, bound or not, to exact measurements fully around. Is it difficult or different with new hat bodies?
And do y’all saturate the felt with water, new or old felts, before blocking or do you use steam only? I have always fully wet the many vintage hats I’ve worked on, but have seen several videos of hatters using only steam.

This has probably been discussed here often, but, did all hat companies, say the size of Adam, Lee, Champ etc. from say, the 20s to 50s have their own felt factory or did most companies do like is done now buying pre-made hat bodies from factories and then the hat companies prepare them to suit each hat?

Question: can pure beaver hat bodies come in the color pure white, or do they have to come in a blend or even 100% hare/rabbit?







After much trial and error I have now good success with Acid dyes. The only issue is I cannot get enough penetration into the core of the brim so I have to bind the brim to hide the original felt colour that is revealed when I trim the brim. I have tried trimming the brim and then dyeing but getting the felt blocked in exactly the same position is almost impossible and I end up with an uneven/dimensional brim. My next step is to begin experimenting with natural dyes (vegetation and insects) to come up with proprietary colours.....something to expand beyond the limited palette of modern felts.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,853
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Lookin great Terry! I hope to find some time to work on the 4 hat bodies I’ve recently purchased. Have no idea how that’s gonna go.
Staying in practice to make blocking stubborn Western weight felts easier to manipulate on the block. In the forefront is a thick black Western weight felt in suede finish. I was able to work it to where it was easy to block. The carbon gray Western felt has already been blocked and the brim trimmed. Ive been pretty busy and haven't had time to work on it further just yet. The blue felt in the background will soon be going to a good friend when I finish it.
 
Messages
10,539
Location
vancouver, canada
I usually fully soak the felt in hot water before blocking then steam for 10+ minutes tented in a trash bag. I steam them until I have taken out the rudimentary brim break and it more resembles a cone. I find that works best in getting a really good stretch over the block. If I am working with the FEPSA 95gram beaver I can get away with just a really good water spritz as the felt is so light weight.
That is a good question. Not sure how many felting factories used to exist back in the hayday of hatting.
When I was at Winchester they had bales of fur fibre in white (bleached for dyeing pastels) and then natural for the other dyes.

I am about to spend a few days working with dyes/felts and will experiment with dyeing an already cut brim to see how exact I can get it.






Since I have yet to build or dye any custom hats from scratch using modern hat bodies, I wouldn’t know what I was in for, but with vintage hats, I’ve not had a problem with pulling the brims, bound or not, to exact measurements fully around. Is it difficult or different with new hat bodies?
And do y’all saturate the felt with water, new or old felts, before blocking or do you use steam only? I have always fully wet the many vintage hats I’ve worked on, but have seen several videos of hatters using only steam.

This has probably been discussed here often, but, did all hat companies, say the size of Adam, Lee, Champ etc. from say, the 20s to 50s have their own felt factory or did most companies do like is done now buying pre-made hat bodies from factories and then the hat companies prepare them to suit each hat?

Question: can pure beaver hat bodies come in the color pure white, or do they have to come in a blend or even 100% hare/rabbit?
 

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