The best way to look after your felt hat is to store it in a box, away from sunlight and brush it with a soft-bristled brush; be careful with soft felts because a stiff bristled brush can tear the felt. For stubborn stains the brush will not reach, try using a makeup sponge, rubbing in a circular motion.
A felt hat is made to keep you dry and keep the sun off you. However if it is losing its shape, good quality felt has a good shape memory and a little steam will normally pop it back into shape. Using a tea-kettle, hold the hat over the steam for a few seconds and try and rework the brim with your hands. It only takes a little steam to reshape the felt. Be sure not to hold the hat so close you harm the hat or your hands.
Note that some felts (especially fur felts) do much better in rain than others.
Though most felts hold up pretty well against all weather almost all hats have a saturation point where they will finally soak through. If you get caught in a heavy rain and the hat gets soaked through be sure to let the hat dry completely. Leave it out overnight somewhere where it can dry thoroughly, away from direct heat. Never use a hair dryer on a hat as it will cause the fibers to shrink and wrinkle which will affect the felt.
Felt differs from every other fabric in that it is made of a myriad of short, single animal fibers which are interlocked by their natural tendency to move and twist when kneaded and manipulated in hot water and steam. Felt is the strongest fabric known because every fiber is interlocked in every direction with a number of other fibers. All other fabrics are made of fibers which are first twisted into threads and then woven by hand or machine. As these threads are always woven either in right angle or parallel lines, the woven fabric may be torn apart along a straight line.
Felt can be made very smooth, is very light and is extraordinarily tough. It’s also more resistant to water than cotton or straw, because of the close interlocking of its fibers and because the animal fibers themselves do not soak up moisture.
Felt hats can be made either of fur felt (medium or high price) or wool felt (low price). Wool felt is great to travel with and great for an everyday hat, whereas fur felt can be extraordinarily soft, and although sometimes quite expensive, will last for many years with the proper care and storage.
Fur felt hats are chiefly made of rabbit fur. Some hare fur is used to make better hats and is often mixed with rabbit fur to produce hats in various medium price grades. Beaver, the finest fur, and nutria are usually used in the best hats, and muskrat also supplies raw material for hat making. It’s important to note that “fur” in this context is the downy under-fur of these animals, not the long, coarse hair that is commonly called fur. Only this under-fur has on the kind of composition to make a strong felt.
Fur felts are superior to all other felts because if their smoothness in texture, light weight, and resistance to not only weather but also touch- making them easier to re-structure.
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