How do I restore vintage hats?

Written by justin schamotta
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How do I restore vintage hats?
Some vintage hats are more than a century old. ( Images)

Vintage hats will inevitably show signs of wear and tear. Depending on their age and the number of heads they've crowned, such hats may be dusty, stiff, wrinkled, faded or otherwise shapeless. Even minor efforts made to restore vintage hats can add value to them as well as increasing their aesthetic qualities.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponge
  • Kettle
  • Gum arabic

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  1. 1

    Brush the hat gently to remove excess dust and dirt. Start at the top of the crown and brush down to the brim using a circular motion and going with the nap or pile. Use a light-coloured brush for light hats and a dark-coloured brush for dark hats. You should ideally brush hats daily. Lightly vacuum faux fur, felt and feather hats using the upholstery setting.

  2. 2

    Sand stains on felt hats using a very fine-grade sandpaper. Apply steam to stubborn stains and use a pin to pick out the stain. Tackle stains on other hats using a soft sponge with small pores. Gently rub the stain anti-clockwise to the direction of the grain.

  3. 3

    Reshape straw hats by placing the crown on a hat block or by stuffing it with newspaper. Hold a steaming kettle near the hat to soften the straw and then allow it to dry. This technique can also be for vintage faux fur hats. Re-shape felt and feather hats by stuffing the crowns or placing them on a hat block for a few days.

  4. 4

    Hold a steaming kettle briefly underneath hats with ribbons, artificial flower and bows. Do not allow sufficient moisture to build up so that they are wet. Also use steam for lifeless looking ostrich feathers. While steaming them, use the handle of a spoon to gently tease out each strand of the feather.

  5. 5

    Stiffen shapeless lace by dipping it in a solution of gum Arabic. Dissolve one tablespoon of gum Arabic in a cup of hot water. Lightly steaming veils can stiffen them.

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