Cowboy hats are shaped by the manufacturer through a steam process, and sold in a particular brim and crown design. This is the standard process for both felt and straw hats. Hats are often reshaped at a hat store by the use of a commercial steamer to suit the personal taste of the person purchasing the hat. A cowboy hat can be reshaped at home by using a clothes steamer. A tea pot with a narrow spout that produces an intense flow of steam will also work.
Heat the steamer or tea pot until a strong flow of steam is being produced.
Hold the hat by the edge of the brim with both hands. Pass the outside of the crown through the steam, moving the hat around so the entire crown is steamed. Do this quickly, constantly moving the hat until the entire crown is soft, which should take 20 to 30 seconds.
Shape the crown quickly while the material is warm and soft; the material will cool within 30 seconds. If you want to shape the crown further, repeat the steaming and shaping process until the crown is the desired shape.
Hold the hat on one side of the brim with the fingertips of both hands and pass the bottom side of the brim through the steam. Shift the brim around in your hands quickly to cover the entire brim. Flip the hat over and repeat for the top side of the brim.
Steam both sides of the brim until the material is warm and soft. Quickly shape the brim using both hands; hold the brim in the desired shape for 20 to 30 seconds until the material cools and holds the set. Repeat the process until the desired shape is achieved.
Put the cooled hat on your head while the material is still slightly soft so the hat will shape to your head. The hat will hold its shape after one to two minutes.
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Dave P. Fisher is an internationally published and award-winning Western novelist and short-story writer. His work has appeared in several anthologies and his nonfiction articles in outdoor magazines. An avid outdoorsman, Fisher has more than 40 years of experience as a hunter, trapper, fisherman, taxidermist, professional fly-tyer, horsepacker and guide.
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