Special Interests - Groups & Societies > The Old Fashioned Way

Making Your Hat Fit Your Head

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One thing I have noticed in my job is that hat sizing is not well understood.  We get hat sizes from the circumference of the head divided by Pi.  It is of course rounded to the nearest 1/8th.  But most the time it is just as easy to use a chart.

Circm.          Hat Size

20 1/4........6 3/8
20 5/8........6 1/2
21..............6 5/8
21 1/2........6 3/4
21 3/4........6 7/8
22 1/2........7 1/8
22 3/4........7 1/4
23..............7 3/8
23 1/2........7 1/2
24..............7 5/8
24 3/8........7 3/4
24 7/8........7 7/8
25 1/8........8
25 1/2........8 1/8

To measure the head for size you need a tailors measuring tape.  Reading many explinations of where to measure on websites can be confusing.  Some say 1/8 inch above the ears some say as much as 1/2 and then around to the middle or lower part of the head.  I like to measure to where one is comfortable wearing the hat, mine is best at about an 1/8th above the ears, but some are better at a 1/2.  What you need to do is figure where you like to wear your hat and measure to there.

If you are in between sizes like many, folks are you will have to decide on if you want to pad a larger size or stretch a smaller size.  Both have their advantages and dis advantages, but more on that in the next post.  Of course another option is a custom hat and having it built to the size and the shape of your head. 

Ok now you have measured you head and determined what size hat you need, so you've picked on out and it is the right size, but it don't feel right, what next?  First it might not be a bad idea to run the tape around the inside of the hat to make sure it is the size it is marked.  I have seen a few mis-marked.  If it measures right then the opening of the hat does not fir the shape of your head,  not uncommon.  What you want to do now is find out where it is tight and where it is loose.  Most often it is tight at the front and loose at the sides.  This means your head it a long oval, very common, some makers make hats in Long Oval, Regular Oval and Round Oval.  If the hat is not marked it will most often be a Regular Oval.

The picture at the bottom shows where to check, a person with a head that is longer oval for the hat will be tight at the front where the red arrows are, one that has a round er oval will be loose at the red arrows and tight at the green.

There are to things one can do and this also works for folks with an in-between size head.  You can get the next size bigger and pad it under the sweat band where it is loose.  A foam weather strip or felt weather strip works well for this.

A better way  to do it is to stretch the hat to fit the head, this is simple and I'll have instrutions and pictures in the next post.

The amount one can stretch the opening of a hat will depend on the quality of the hat, a wool felt is best just to reshape the opening longer or wider, but a fur hat can often be stretched at least a size or two bigger so if you find that nice old 100% beaver at a garage sale for $5 and it is a a size or two small, it can be stretched to fit the head with some care.

There are different kinds of hat stretchers, the one in the first picture is the one I use a work, I don't know how old it is, but it at one time had a cord to run a heating element, the cord is cut off and it has cloth insulation on it.

The second one is the kind most folks will own, this one is wood, but most are now plastic, they will do a good job and sell for $20 dollars or so.  So get your tea kettle hot and steaming, they work as well as the electiric ones we use at work or even get a spray bottle of water and go to the next post, we are going to stretch a hat.

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One needs to either get the hat hot and damp with steam or to get it good and damp with the spray bottle.  You then apply some pressure to the hat in the direction you want it to go.  Mild pressure will reshape the opening, it will take more to stretch to opening, go slow and let the hat dry before trying it, better to have to stretch it more than to go too much.  The last pictures show both kinds in use.  A hat that has been stretched a lot and is not wore often will benifit from having one of the small home type hat jacks put in place when not in use.

Custom hatters who build off a conformer will also offer in most cases offer a wooden block the right size and shape to store the hat on, these are the same as the form the hat on when building.

I have unlocked this so any questions?

Del, thanks for the very informative post.  I enjoy how to post.



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