How to Stretch Akubra Hats

Australian Hat image by Richard Seeney from Fotolia.com

Akubra, a stalwart in the hat business for more than a century, and is well known for making traditional Australian hats. These felt caps come in a variety of styles and have a reputation for durability. However, improper care can result in undesirable shrinkage. When purchasing an Akubra hat, triple-check the fit; if it's tight, consider a larger size. And remember that preventive maintenance is easier than stretching a shrunken hat.

Hand Stretching

Heat a kettle of water, or set up your portable steamer .

Expose the hat to the steam, taking care not to wet the leather band on the interior of the crown. (If this leather gets wet, it will shrink as it dries.)

Allow the hat to cool for easy handling. Working on a clean, flat surface, coax the warm, moistened felt into the desired shape by hand.

Allow the hat to air dry on a hat rack.

Hat Stretcher

Purchase a sturdy wooden hat stretcher. (Check your hat supplier for available units.)

Insert the stretcher into the hat, and expand the hat by giving it two to three turns. If needed, apply steam to the felt.

Allow the hat to sit overnight. Remove the stretcher, and wear the hat. The heat and moisture of your head will help reduce shrinkage. To maintain its shape, store your hat on the stretcher weekly.

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