How to Shape a Felt Hat

Timothy Sexton

Felt hats, like fedoras and pork pie hats, are fairly easy to shape into a certain kind of style. Felt cowboy hats are more difficult, but can still be shaped. Over time, as you wear a cowboy hat, the sweat from your head makes the material more malleable. The terrific thing about many felt hats is that by shaping them it is possible to give the hat a personality that matches your own.

Pull the rubber medical exam gloves onto your hands. When putting on and taking off the hat, it's okay to use your fingers, but when handling the hat during shaping it best to wear gloves or, at least, make sure you hands have been cleaned with soap and water. The oils and fingerprints from your hands can stain the felt and even potentially damage it. Medical exam gloves are available at drugstores.

Heat up a pot of water on the stove until it reaches a boil. Hold the section of the hat you wish to shape, whether the brim or the crown, over the steam for a few minutes until the felt becomes softer and more supple. This process will make shaping the hat easier, especially if the hat is a harder felt.

Shape the felt hat by pinching the front of the crown. Pinching the crown at the front is a common method for shaping a felt hat to create that sharp look made popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

Bend the brim either up or down on the front, back or sides. Bending one side of the brim upward will create that distinctive Australian hat style. For a slightly mysterious and dangerous look, bend the front brim down. If you prefer a more welcoming and inviting appearance, bend the front brim up. Bending the back brim usually depends on how you've shaped the front brim. For a more shopworn and casual look, keep the back and front down. For a slightly jauntier look, bend the back brim up and keep the front brim down. Bending both the front and the back brim up is a rare choice.