Watch a Cowboy Hat Being Made! Today most cowboy hats are made by machines. This is how we make them by hand, one at a time, basically the same as has been done for 100 years!
There are about seventy-five individual steps to making a cowboy hat. Once we start each hat, it takes about three days to make! For clarity, here we’ve simplified the process into six basic stages.
Stage One: Raw Materials Our raw materials supplier uses the finest fur and, sort of like making cotton candy, forms it into a raw hat body. Each size body – or blank - can be sized into a range of two to three sizes. Soon the hatter will form the body a specific size and prepare it for the next steps.
Stage Two: Blocking Blocking is the foundation of making a hat. Right from the start, the size and shape must be accurate and square or the hat will never be right. The hatter uses a wooden block to accomplish this. He uses steam and lots of handwork to achieve the perfect fit and shape. This critical stage is where the undesirable characteristics of a natural material are corrected.
Stage Three: Pouncing (Sanding) This is hugely important. Careful sanding is the only way to achieve a silky smooth finish. Machines do not accomplish this to the degree we want, so we use our hands. We sand and sand and…well, sand some more!
Stage Four: Sweatband Like anything, you have to start with superior materials. Starting with the best leather sweatband we can buy, we use an industrial sewing machine to install it. Once in, the seam is sewn. Often, hand sewing is used for refinement. Here’s an interesting aside…the sewn seam where the crown and brim meet is not from sewing the brim onto the crown, it is from sewing in the sweatband! (Remember the raw hat body? The crown and brim are one piece of material!)
Stage Five: Shaping Here’s where the fun begins: shaping the hat into the preferred style. This is much more of an art than science, taking experienced hands. We use a steam generator to make the fur pliable then use our hands to shape the crown, the hardest part. Last, the brim is shaped. We love this step because, being a customer hatter, we can form almost any shape and style. We feel like we are creating art to hang on peoples’ heads!
Stage Six: Finishing Once the hat is shaped, by hand we install a silk liner, sew a bow on the sweatband, and hand sew the hatband. The hat receives a final quality control check and any final adjustments are made. Voila! You have a gorgeous one-of-a-kind custom hat!