this is called hand blocking.
also known as:
steaming, brushing and steaming, hand shaping..
hand blocking....It is usually not for hats that are really totaled,
Although I have done some miracles on really dogged hats, it's more like a "shoe-shine for a hat" that is not damaged, but simply out of shape.It's aways done free of charge at our shop although some places charge a good amount...it's a lost art,and definitely hard to find places who do it this way..
, The more intensive "hat blocking" is done with wooden or metal molds called blocks. This is the way these hats are manufactured. To do this, you need a collection of different shaped blocks. It is between $20 and $40 to do this here..depending on the job. (it could be the brim, the crown, or both)
This gets amazing results but also stiffens the hat somewhat..but you can take hats that are flattened like a book and make them perfect.. This you do when a hat just won't respond well to the steaming anymore.Or you want absolute perfection with an old hat. Otherwise, using steam and a trained eye can be more authentic,hand shaped..and old-timey looking, as well as giving you more freedom to shape it freely,creatively and with flair.
of course, it can be done shakily by a novice
or with grace and style,with smooth lines.and to the customers needs, to match his height,taste..you can really fine tune it by hand.. again,it's just as easy to mess it up by hand, while blocks are more predictable and easy to get right. But it usually costs a few bucks. it is a lot of work.
I quickly demonstrate how to put a new crown shape into a fedora here.. We start off with a hat in so-so shape, open the crown, take out the creases and start over.
The Teardrop is a more nostalgic crown shaping, popular in the Gangster era,1930's-1940's,it usually works best in bigger brims but can be used for short brims too, this is a short to medium,2" brim. (usually I use 2 1/2" brims or more for the teardrop, but again, any brim size is okay.
The teardrop shaping is highly suggested for a person who likes a lower crown height..It lowers the crown by tucking it into itself,essentially.
Although it has a low appearance, this crown shape actually works best for tall guys or folks with higher,taller heads,who need more depth to the crown.
Sometimes a crown is too shallow for some people, the head bumps into the roof of the hat and doesn't sit down low enough. This happens a lot in center crease hats, The center crease has a big dent on top which sinks into the inside of the crown and doesn't allow for much depth or room for taller people, or just taller shaped heads.
If you notice, my first step is starting with a basic center crease across the center of the crown. By doing this, I'm basically setting the height of my teardrop, the height of the ront,and the back.
The height or depth of the teardrop is what separates the good jobs from the bad ones. A common mistake is to slope it too low in the back..make sure the back is deep enough, but still lower than the front of the hat.
Crease it,set your height,and look at it from a profile(side) view, if it looks pleasing to you, continue..if not, steam out the crease and start again.
The little bubble on the top of the teardrop that give the wearer more depth on top. the head fits into the little bubble and just fits more efficiently for some. You can steam the center of that bubble, and then put the hat on while warm(not HOT,warm..don't get burned)
This will make an impression of the wearer's head and give u the right depth,you can trace around his head with tour finger and custom shape that bubble to just the height he needs,not a drop more. Go back and neaten it up after you make the impression. I will cover this technique soon.
If you like a 40's "film noir" look, or need more depth,a lower looking crown, or just like the way a teardrop looks, you can usually turn a standard center creased hat into a teardrop easily, if you bring it to me, I will do it for free,usually while you wait.
We cannot shape a crushable wool felt hat in this fashion,only hats that say,"genuine fur felt" inside. I can tell you if your hat is fur felt or not. usually a fur felt hat will cost over $100 new.
there are a few exceptions, some wool hats can be reshaped, but not as easily as a fur felt,and some wool felts cannot be shaped at all.
Straws can be shaped too, but only some can,depending on the type of straw it is made from.
There will be another video getting more into the details of this shaping, different types of teardrops, how to vary it, how to choose whether a hat is right for this shape and basically more of the fine tuning that will make this shape more authentic,nostalgic and how to vary it to suit the wearer's head.
Any questions can be directed to me here or at the shop,Pork Pie Hatters in the east village, 9th street,NYC