Thursday, November 6, 2008

What About Hats? Part 2

It's been far too long since I posted the first part of my hat tutorial. Now is as good a time as any to continue.

Last time we looked at the fedora in general, learning a bit of its history and characteristics of each time period. Now we dig into specific characteristics of the fedora, beginning with the crown crease.

When I say crown crease, I'm talking about the shape of the top of the crown. There are multitudes of different shapes the crown could be creased in but we are only going to glance at the three most popular ones for the fedora.

First is the Center Crease.
The center crease is a single large crease that runs down the center of the crown (hence its name) from front to back. This creased is most often and successfully used on hats with tall crowns to avoid the crease from coming into contact with the wearer's head and avoiding any misshaping of the crease.
This crease can also give the hat a nice straight or even reverse taper when viewed from the side.
click on all photos to enlarge
This center crease was very popular from the 'teens through the 1930s when it started to lose popularity in favor of the creases below. It came back for a short time in the 1960s.

The next crease is the Teardrop Crease.
Also known as the C-Crease, much of the crown is pushed down inside itself to form a smooth rounded crease that looks like a teardrop. The center of the crease bulges back out to make room for the wearer's head.
This crease became popular during the 1930s, the same time the crease below also became popular.

Last but definitely not least is the Diamond Crease.
Similar to the Teardrop Crease, the Diamond has four corners to the crease as opposed to one in the Teardrop. This crease can give a tall hat some reverse taper when viewed from the front.
Like the Teardrop Crease, the Diamond Crease became popular during the 1930s and continued through into the 1950s.

Ribbons and bows are mainly just decorative and help cover up stitching from the sweatband that would otherwise be visible. Like crown creases, bows can change the attitude of the hat and give it life. The bow has a simple rule: for men's hats the bow is on the left, for women it's on the right. Let's look at several more popular styles of bows.

This is the traditional bow that is most often seen on semi-formal fedoras. These are seen from the 1920s through to today.

Next, an earlier and more simple form of the traditional bow. These simple, boxy bows were common during the 'teens and twenties. If a hat has one of these bows, there's a good chance that it's pretty old.

The western-style thin ribbon and bow give any hat a dash of ruggedness and a casual feeling. This type of bow and ribbon are seen on cowboy hats as well as western fedoras like the desirable Stetson "Open Road" and "Stratoliner".
Note the 'wind trolley' button below the bow.
The back bow is harder to find than the traditional and thin bows. Originally popular in France during the 1930s, the back bow made a comeback in the United States in the mid-1950s. The hat below is a 1950s Royal Stetson.
The pleated bow, like the back bow, can be difficult to find nowadays. Popular back in the 1920s through to the 1940s, the pleated bow eventually faded from the limelight. Like all of the other bows pictured, the pleated bow can come in many different styles and the one pictured is just one of many variations.

Lastly, the tapered ribbon is perhaps the most difficult ribbon/bow style to find. This type of ribbon/bow is most often found on summer Panama hats, though the one shown below is on a late-1920s or early-1930s felt fedora.

The last thing we'll look at is brim treatment. The brims below are shown from least to most formal for fedoras.

First and least formal is the Raw Edge. As can be seen, the raw cut felt is left unaltered.

Next up is the Welt Edge. The raw cut edge is folded onto itself, either on the top of bottom of the brim, and stitched down. The brim below has three rows of stitching.

Below is the Self-Welt Edge, also known as the Cavanagh Edge, named after its inventor. Like the Welt edge above, the brim if folded over onto itself. But, rather then using rows of stitching to keep it folded, extreme pressure is used to meld the folded felt into the brim. This process turns the two pieces of brim into one smooth, brim edge.
This brim treatment is rare nowadays and has become a lost art. No modern hat company makes the Self-Welt Edge because it would be too expensive, especially when the simple and cheap Welt Edge can do the job.

The Bound Edge.
There are two main style of the Bound Edge. The first uses a thin strip of grosgrain ribbon...
...while the second utilizes a thick grosgrain ribbon. This is my favorite brim treatment.
We'll continue to look at the fedora and eventually the homburg with upcoming posts. Hopefully you are getting a feel for vintage fedoras and what to look for.


Laurent said...

Thanks. I hope you won't keep us waiting too long before the next post in this series.
Here's another recent post you might find interesting :

Will said...

Thanks for that link! I know from experience that hat can be very difficult to draw.

Like Di Vinci knew, in order to draw the human body well one must study and understand the human body. The same principle applies to hats.

Maximilian said...

Last time we looked at the fedora in general, learning a bit of its history and ...

Luke Forsyth said...

My father is a big fan Western cowboy hats.


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