How to Recover Crushed Hats

Do you have a hat that your brother buried under a pile of clothes and then lay on for a week? Or did something even worse happen to it like your kid ran over it with his toy cement roller? (Hey I don’t know they make those either, but if I were a kid again, I’d love to have one!) Well, there is hope, even if it is felt wool. . . . Lately I have been uncrushing some felt wool hats. This is how to do it – it should also work on many other kinds of hats.

A hatmakers’ secret is that if you steam the hat with lots of steam for a few minutes it may regain its shape. And if doesn’t regain its original shape by itself, you can help it along with care not to burn your fingers. You should shape it while it is still warm from the steam. To keep your fingers safe you may consider some tools like spoons or dull knives to press against the hat. Most hats were finished with some kind of material just for hats (called sizing) that acts to stiffen the hat. You can reactive that stiffening material with steam. There is no need to add more.

What sources can you use for steam? Irons set to steam mode, tea kettles on the stove, electric tea pots that stay on steam mode and hot steam humidifers are some possibilities. Put the hat in the flow of the steam to heat and wet it and then pull it away to shape it how you want it. Some kinds of hats will respond faster than others. But almost all could benefit.

So if your hat was ruined, don’t panic! Hats are surprisingly resilient.

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