Hatmaker Week 13, March 2019: Historic Bowlers and Tools that made Hufvud

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Historic and pretty darn stylish!

Probably the most iconic head wear worn by villains or famous historical icons, the Bowler has been a focus in my studio lately. The Bowler, or Derby hat, has been worn in the world for more than 150 years. It made the west and it is still worn in parades or events in the United Kingdom. HJALMAR Bowler is named after my great grandfather. A person I never met, yet heard so much about. I tend to make use of names that are tied to family members or someone in my past. It’s a way to celebrate their memory in a hat. Just as a worn vintage hat had belonged to someone long gone, their memory and energy still lives on in that particular hat. It’s what makes hats legendary, there is a story behind them.

This particular bowler is made of a 30X Beaver blend (30% Beaver fur) finished with a cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon and a custom leather sweatband. Everything in this hat are made by hand. From the assembly of the sweatband to stitching the brim by hand. This bowler is a rather large size, 62 cm or 7 3/4 inches, fitted after measured size. A crown that reaches 5.5 inches and a brim at around 2 inches. It can be made in a multitudes of ways with different proportions and measurements.

It takes more time to complete this Bowler. After the crown is blocked out, shaped on a wooden block, it’s completed with a custom sweatband and a rather flat brim. Once everything is in place, then it’s time for the brim to receive the initial shape. I do shape the brim several times to allow it to dry properly, before even starting to bind the brim with a grosgrain ribbon. The brim binding itself takes extra 2 days to complete. It’s a consistent hand stitch procedure that requires regular breaks, in order not to work in a too much of a static position.

Why 30X Beaver blend in a bowler?

What makes beaver fur the best fur for felt, and ultimately for hats? It’s the way that the individual pieces of hair binds together. Beaver fur binds together with tiny hooks that makes a stronger bond. It also makes the fur felt more dense with less usage of fur. A bowler is made into a very stiff hat, just like this HJALMAR Bowler. Stiffened with natural Shellac mixture it makes the hat resistant to punches and yet comfortable to wear. The brim however is softer to the touch but still holds its shape well. Just like a bowler is expected to feel like. Historically, bowlers where used as helmets when riding. With the beaver blend it just becomes the best felt for this type of hat (in my own opinion).

I am glad when someone asks me to make this bowler in a different felt color other than total black. Its a homage to the history of the bowler to make this style modern and to make it stand out.

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Tools to make hats great again

How did I build up my arsenal of tools that built Hufvud Hatmaker? When I first started out making hats, I had nothing but a simple steamer and a iron (not the fancy industrial ones I have today, but a simple one). As I started to sell the hats I made, I reinvested it all into Hufvud. I improved the tools that I used and I added more different items that allowed me to finish the hats better. It also made work more enjoyable. I never took a loan and I never asked for charity to build up this craft. I should write a total different blog one day to explain how it all started and how it was financed. No loans, low salary and a lot of trial and error.

Which brings me to my latest addition to my toolbox. A foot toliker made of brass. It’s a custom made item that took some time to design into a mold for casting. I am still perfecting the item in terms of ergonomic design and function. Already I am pleased with the item compare with my previous wooden toliker. This brass tool helps to keep warm once the felt is heated up underneath. It makes for a smoother surface when its pressed down on the table. It’s not a cheap item to come by but it surely makes a big difference for the end result.

If you are interested in this tool, or know someone who might need one, I am more than happy to have one made for you. Send me an email at info@hufvud.com and I will send you the details.

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What am I working on?

There are a lot of hats on my studio table at the moment. Here is a list of whats coming up:

  • SVEN HOMBURG, Rabbit & Hare, Sand

  • HJALMAR BOWLER, Rabbit & Hare, Sand

  • RAGNAR FEDORA, 100X Beaver, Emerald Gray

  • LEIFUR Lucky FEDORA, Rabbit & Hare, Sable Brown

  • RAGNAR FEDORA, 30X Beaver, Royal Blue

Still blocking out two other hats over the week to prepare for the next batch of hats. The brim binding of hats is taking some extra time, that’s why I am having more hats down this coming week.

Feel free to send me an email directly if you wish to design your new hat with HUFVUD. Have a great weekend! Warmest day in south of Sweden today!

Mikael Einarsson | HUFVUD HATMAKER | LUND, SWEDEN