The Ways to Steam and Stiffen a Cowboy Hat

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You can steam your cowboy hat back into shape.
You can steam your cowboy hat back into shape. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Wearing a cowboy hat makes a statement that expresses an attitude of individuality while protecting your head from the elements. Most cowboy hats are produced from felt that can lose its shape, particularly if the hat gets wet. Cowboy hats can be restored to their original shape through the effective use of steam.

Steam Sources

Fill a kettle with water and bring it to a boil on your stove. Make sure that you have plenty of water in the kettle to keep the steam constant. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to the point that the kettle is still producing a consistent stream of steam. Clothes steamers are another way to produce constant steam and are available at most big-box retailers and department stores.

Reshaping Your Hat

Place the area that needs to be reshaped over the steam then keep it moving to allow the steam to evenly permeate the felt. Steam the hat for about 30 seconds. Remove the hat from the steam then use your fingers to reshape the hat. However, be careful not to overwork the felt as it is possible to distort it. If a large area needs to be reworked, steam and reshape your hat in small increments.

Natural Stiffening

Your cowboy hat can be naturally stiffened by simply steaming it, reshaping it as desired then allowing it to naturally cool off. The felt in a cowboy hat is treated with a stiffening agent during production; the heat of the steam softens that agent, allowing the hat to be reshaped then re-hardened as the felt cools. This form of stiffening is usually sufficient to re-stiffen your hat; however, there is an additional step you can do.

Stiffening Agent

Once you have reshaped your cowboy hat, you can further stiffen the felt with a commercial felt stiffener. This product is available wherever fine hats are sold or can be ordered online. Apply the stiffener inside the brim and under the crown of your hat to prevent the sun for breaking down the stiffener. Apply steam onto the surfaces that have been treated with stiffener; the steam will help the stiffener work its way into the felt.

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