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How to Adjust the Size of a Cowboy Hat

by C.A. Rubino ; Updated September 28, 2017

The cowboy hat is an essential tool for many ranchers.

Ralf Nau/Lifesize/Getty Images

Cowboy hats are both a wonderful fashion accessory and a useful tool for those who work outdoors, providing shade and protection. The true cowboy hat is durable, made of felt, straw or leather, and comes in different designs and styles. Despite its usefulness, if a cowboy hat is the wrong size it will be uncomfortable or even impossible to wear. Even a perfectly sized cowboy hat can lose its shape over time. You can salvage an ill-fitting cowboy hat by resizing it; the process takes a little time and patience.

Remove the inside hat band with a seam ripper. Slide the tip of the seam ripper under the threads and pull up. Do not to damage the inner lining of the hat. If the inside band is made of leather keep it in place to help the hat hold its new shape.

Hold the hat over a steaming kettle or pot of boiling water until it is slightly damp. Do not soak the hat, as excessive saturation causes damage.

Pull the damp hat down over a head form or hat stretcher. Set the hat stretcher to the desired hat size if it is adjustable. If you are using a non-adjustable head form then it needs to be as close to the desired hat size as possible. For hats that only need a slight size correction, use your own head for the shaping.

Adjust the size of the hat while it dries by squeezing or stretching the material. The hat slowly conforms to the shape.

Allow the hat to fully dry on the form before removing it. If you are using your own head to shape the hat, then let it fully dry before taking it off. The hat becomes more comfortable as you wear it.

Repeat the damping process and allowing the hat to dry until it maintains a proper fit. This may take several applications.

Sew the inner liner back into the hat using a needle and thread designed to work with the hat's material. Leather hats do not use the same type of needle as a felt hat.

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