This November - December has been all about Indiana Jones hats. I took on an exciting project to renovate a well worn Adventurebuilt (AB) Henry Fedora hat, made from 20% Beaver and 80% Rabbit fur felt. This hat has been to all the corners of the world, battling sandstorms in Iraq. Fittingly enough it belongs to a talented Archaeologist who shares a passion for well made hats, Mr Adam Fraser.
When the hat arrived it looked very beaten, in a way a hat should look like this after 7 years of use in various weather conditions. The front of the brim had a puncture mark from a bush and the crown tapered inwards, a usual impact of humidity and heat over time. Overall, its a beautiful hat as is.
The ribbon, or hatband, was in fairly good condition but the sweatband had started to give away on the inside. A sweatband is the foundation of a hat. It keeps the structure and maintains the size of crown. Once this one goes, the hat will lose its core. Only thing to do would be to exchange for a new one.
Carefully removing the hatband I started to pluck all the old stitches out which also helped to remove the sweatband on the inside. Under the hatband is the original felt color as the rest has been bleached by the sun. Next step was to clean and reblock the felt, using a hat block to get the desired shape and size of the original hat.
A finished hat has been stretched and treated to have a specific shape, going beyond this at this stage could lead to a tear in the felt. The area around where the sweatband was attached would be extra weak to additional pull in the fabric. I used caution and gently pushed the felt down on the block using my available tools with sufficient steam to keep the felt pliable for the wooden block.
As you can see from the result of steam and push, the crown color is back to a slight darker tone and the shape is back to its original form with straight sides leading up to the tip of the crown. The front puncture of the brim felt had been wet ironed to strengthen the hold. Still its an area that is weaker than the rest. This kind of damage is more or less permanent. The crown was extra treated to give it back its strength in order to shape it later on.
The process up to this point took a few days, mainly because there is a drying period which is very important.
Hufuvd handmade sweatband was stitched together and fitted into the crown which has a bit more structure than the original sweatband. What actually took the longest time was the waiting for the correct Ribbon to arrive in the mail. The old hatband was in a good shape but a new one would make the hat look like new. I found the same ribbon, used in the original hat, and fitted it onto the outside of the crown.
Final stage, shape the brim and crease the crown to get a slight mushroom effect as seen in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Streets of Cairo.
Some damage is still apparent in the felt, however, the color is darker and the shape is back to a recognizable Indiana Jones Fedora hat. Thanks Adam for your confidence in letting me renovate this hat for you. Its an amazing felt to work with and the results speaks for itself.