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Millinery hats

And one must always wear a hat when lunching with people whom one does not know well. One appears to one’s best advantage. – Coco Chanel

How to Care for your Hat

Taking good care of your hat will allow you to enjoy it for years to come.

How to Handle a Hat Properly

Never pick up a hat when your hands are not clean, as dirt and oil will transfer from your hands to the hat. Also, never pick up a hat by the crown; doing so crushes the crown and can cause it to become misshapen. Instead, pick up a hat by placing one hand on the back of the hat brim and the other on the front.

Try to avoid resting your hat on flat surfaces. Hats left on table tops bow up in the front and back, while bending the sides downward and forever deforming the shape of the brim. If need be, you can rest a hat on its crown, provided you place it on a clean surface.

Cleaning Your Hat

Dust your hat frequently with a soft-bristled brush. Use a dark colored brush for dark hats and a light colored brush for light hats (light hats should be brushed more often). Clean your brushes after each use to avoid transferring fibers from one hat to another, which is especially important if you have hats in several different colors.

You can also use a damp towel to remove dust by gently rubbing it in a circular counterclockwise motion over the surface of the hat.

For stubborn stains that a brush or towel can’t get, try using a soft, small-pored sponge such as a makeup sponge, or a bit of foam rubber. Rubber sponges are slightly sticky and will lift surface dirt away from the material.

For the toughest, most persistent stains, take your hat to a professional hat cleaner and/or milliner. Sometimes even sweat stains need this level of help since they can penetrate fabric deeply. Be sure you go to a professional and not just any clothes or dry cleaning establishment as many do not have the tools for cleaning and reblocking a hat.

Do-It-Yourself Home Hat Repair

To keep decorations on your hats clean and fresh, steam the hat over a pot of boiling water for a few seconds until trimmings soften. Smooth and hold in position until cool.

To repair a dented hat, boil a kettle of water. Once the kettle is steaming, turn down the heat just enough to keep steam coming out of the spout with a little force.

Position the dented area over the jet of steam and allow it to penetrate the straw or felt. Keep moving the hat around in order for the heat and steam to spread evenly in and around the material. Remove the hat from the steam after 20-30 seconds. Do not overdo the steaming as you can distort the hat, especially if you are working on a sharp edge or fine detail.

Quickly push out the dent and/or rework the shape with your fingers. Gently blow on the repaired area to cool it, and the material will stiffen. Try not to overwork any one area and work in small stages. It is also possible to stiffen your hat by steaming the felt or straw thoroughly and allowing the hat to cool. The stiffener will soften when hot, but re-bonds and hardens when cooled.

To fix a veil that has been crushed, hold it over a steaming teapot

For silk flowers that have become misshapen, fluff the flowers up and then apply hair spray to hold their shape.

To restore velour, use a stiff brush to restore nap while steaming. You can also iron velour – just be sure to check your iron for the proper setting.

To refresh a straw hat, first make sure the texture isn't too stiff or too flimsy to work with. Stuff the crown with wet towels and let it set head down for a few hours. Then flip the hat over and fill the brim with rolled up wet towels, and let it sit for a few hours again. Once this is done, the wrinkles are gone and the brim is straightened and the hat is like new!

Straw hats can also be ironed out if the iron is on a low setting (a high setting will burn the straw). Keep the iron moving over the damaged area quickly; don’t let it stay in one place for long. If the hat has a flat brim, lay the hat on an ironing board. If the area is curved, hold a thick wad of material on one side of the straw and iron from the reverse side. More difficult repairs will require you to use the iron to apply heat and steam, then use the fingers to quickly manipulate the straw into shape while the material is still hot.

Note: Never use an iron on felt hats; only use steam for felt repair.

If your hat has gotten wet, let it dry naturally. Use a "hat retainer" to prevent shrinkage in the head band area.

Felt Cloche Millinery Designer Hats
Cloche Millinery Designer Hats
Designer Millinery Church Hats
Millinery Designer Church Hats
Designer Church Hats

Storing Your Hat Properly

It’s important to store your hat in a cool, dry place. Always keep hats out of direct sunlight to prevent fading. Do not stack one hat on top of another. This can affect the each hat’s shape and crush the trim.

For temporary storage, use a hat stand. You can buy a decorative one or simply use paper towel stands. Don’t forget to dust your hat often with a soft brush. Hat stands are best for hats with delicate trimmings or more elaborate decorations such as feathers.

For longer storage periods, use a hat box (either cardboard or cloth covered). Hat boxes will protect your hat from crowding, dust, light, moisture, and heat. It’s a good idea to add a sachet of perfumed mothballs. You can either place brimmed hats upside down, or put tissue paper inside the crown of the hat. Hats with upturned or pancake-flat brims may be stored flat, right side up. Hats with down-turned, dipped or sloped brims are best stored "floating" on a ball of tissue lightly stuffed into the crown. Some square-crowned (flat top) hats may be stored upside down. Just remember that your goal is to keep the weight of the hat off the brim.

To store a hat for travel, fill the crown with tissue paper and put it in a plastic bag. Place it top side up in the middle of your suitcase. Surround the brim with tissue paper or rolled up socks.

SOURCES: Hat History, Cowboy Hats in History, The Hat Ladies of Charleston

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