Author Topic: curving the brim of a bowler?  (Read 9344 times)

josecou

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curving the brim of a bowler?
« on: October 26, 2015, 06:19:12 pm »
Hello. I just purchased  bowler hat at a convention. It can be seen here: http://connerhats.com/bowler-derby-wool-hat-2.html

I was wondering if there was any way to curve the brim of this hat. I like the way it looks now, but I think it would look even better with a nice curved brim. Thanks!

Siliconous Skumins

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 07:14:29 pm »
Yes and no answer to this one: YES it can be done, but maybe not easily...

To change the shape of a wool felt hat, you will need to stretch and shape it over a wooden block form, and set using steam. Once cooled the fibres will lock and hold the new shape. It *might* be doable just by hand, however I would bet the result is not ideal. It might work if it's a soft felt though...

If however you are able to find or build a wood mold form, then it is simply a matter of using something like a cheap handheld steam cleaner, or possibly a wall paper stripper, to provide the required hot steam (might want to wear gloves!). Some have managed to improvise other methods such as steaming over a bowl of boiling water and covering with towels to trap the heat.

Here is a video that demonstrates the technique on a cowboy hat:

Sam's Western Store demonstrates how to shape hats

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josecou

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 09:22:21 pm »
I figured it might be a bit more difficult than just shaping it with my hands. Thanks for the info. I'll look into that.

Argus Fairbrass

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2015, 12:15:28 am »
If you just want to do the brim, steam (from your kettle) should suffice. I bash and reshape all my hats by hand, including the brim of my antique silk topper which is actually stiffened by a type of shellac. It's a trial and error thing, but wool and fur felt should react much the same way. They have said this is a specifically soft wool, but nonetheless, holding it over steam for half a minute or so (which means you have to hold the switch on the kettle when boiling it, which is not ideal) should set it in the shape you form it to.

That said a pro hat shop probably wouldn't charge much just for that if you're not confident, but you can abuse wool felt quite a lot.

KEVIN from PORK PIE HATTERS -Steam & Hand Block a Hat  .

Tell you what though, good ol' Marlborough man in the first vid, sure had a disappointing answer to the ladies query about cowboy hat brim curl. The way I heard it, although the C19th plains cowboys often wore their brims flat and wide, by the time the '20s and '30s came along, those guys were increasingly finding themselves piling into the back of pickup trucks together. Of course them big ol' wide brims were bashing into each other, so the answer was to curl 'em up. Just something I heard, might be true maybe not, but it's a more interesting story than he told.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 12:35:56 am by Argus Fairbrass »
Have her steamed and brought to my tent!

josecou

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 02:13:56 am »
Thanks Argus. That's good to know. I'll have to see if one of my friends has a kettle. Unfortunately there's no stoves in our college dorms. :(

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 11:13:15 am »
Most electric kettles will stay on if the lid is off / open, as they don't quite reach the temperature that trips the thermostat
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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 09:28:09 pm »
This side of the Pond we can still get kettles that don't shut off on boiling. (They do shut off if they go dry.)
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RJBowman

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Re: curving the brim of a bowler?
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 11:42:35 pm »
I once saw a dry cleaner's shop on Milwaukee that reblocked hats. There can't be many left.