How to Stiffen Wool Felted Hats

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Stiffening wool felted hats is something that you need to do with a very specific type of stiffening agent. Stiffen wool felted hats with help from a fashion professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Felt Hats
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Eric Watson at Watson's Hat Shop in Cave Creek, Arizona. Here at Watson's Hat Shop ,we make fine tailored custom hats built to any style. Today I'm going to show you how to apply a stiffener to a wool felt hat. So first thing we do is we have our solution here. It's a special grade commercial hatters shellac. And we use a brush and we dip it in there and you just want to get it on there but not too much. And then we take the hat and we actually will apply it here to the felt. And by doing so this will tighten up the barbs in the wool felt because wool does lose its rigidity over time, unlike European hair, rabbit fur felt, and your higher end hats, such as your beaver fur felt or even beaver blend fur felt hats. They hold their rigidity and shape very well. Wool does not, hence why a wool hat is usually a lot less expensive than a fur felt hat. So what makes the hatters shellac work is that it acts as a catalyst on the microscopic barbs of the wool and helps those barbs to tighten up again and interlock into each other. And that's what adds to the rigidity of the hat. From there we have to let it dry. After we've let it dry it will take you know anywhere from an hour to a few hours depending on the region that you're in and then we'll move on to the second process from there. Okay now that our hat has dried from the hatters shellac that was applied earlier, we can go ahead and finish off this process of stiffening the felt by applying heat, very hot heat, with a steam iron, which will activate the shellac in the body of the hat and by doing so will tighten up the barbs in the wool felt. So we want to spray a little bit of water on there so that the felt stays cool and we're just going to apply a little bit of heat and steam and we'll let that cool down and as soon as that cools down the fibers in the felt will be warmed up, well it wont be warmed up, it'll be tightened up and from there we'll shape the hat later on. So once again, that is how you add stiffener to a wool felt hat, and I'm Eric Watson from Watson's Hat Shop. Thank you.

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