Over the years we have been to many hat factories and seen techniques used for centuries to make many different styles. Here is a sample of some of the techniques we have seen during our factory visits.
Sorting Raw Wool
Most felt hats are made from wool. Before the felting process begins, the raw material is sorted and prepared for cleaning.
Cleaning the Wool
After sorting the wool and before a thorough acid washing, the wool is cleaned by hand.
Acid Washing The Wool
Still another cleaning, this time in acid, before the felt cones are manufactured.
Quality Inspection of Hoods
Wool felt hoods are inspected one piece at a time for consistency, quality, and size.
Making Wool Cones
Layer after layer of cleaned and sorted raw wool is made into cones that will be then pounded into felt hoods.
Hat bodies, made from either felt or straw, are blocked into hat shapes by way of hat blocking machinery. The shape is determined by the specific mold being used that fits these machines. Machines like these replaced hand-blocking, an art or craft that still continues to this day.
Cutting The Brim To Size
The brim of the hat is cut to the size that the customer has specified.
Trimmings, for example grosgrain ribbons, leather hat bands, buckles, side feathers, etc. are applied to the specifications of the customer.
Preparing The Hat Linings
Hat linings are cut to size and prepared for insertion into the hat's interior.
Stitching In The Sweatband
Sweatbands-made from either leather, cotton, vinyl, etc.-are stitched into the hat's interior.
Applying Hat Linings
Hat linings are inserted into the hat's interior.
Bruce Zales, one of Jaxon & James Hats designers, inspecting hats during production.
Weaving A Panama Hat
Panama Hats are from Ecuador. The plant material is woven by hand starting from the 'button' at the center of the crown.
Blocking A Panama Hat
The hand blocking of a Panama Hat is yet another example of the time and care it takes to make one of theses unique hats.
Making the Pith Helmet Crown
Four separate rows of wood are applied, one at a time. Take a look at our Pith Helmets.
Making Pith Helmets
The low-density wood material (pith) is layered onto the mold in four plys.
Dying of the berets to the correct colour at the Parkhurst factory in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Cotton Beret Making
Before our cotton berets are knitted, the cotton material is prepared and sorted on to spools.
Village Hats merchandise manager/buyer/milliner Susan Lee visited the Borsalino hat factory in Italy in January 2006.
Borsalino Making Felt Hat Bodies
Making felt hat bodies at the Borsalino factory in January 2006. Susan Lee of Village Hats visited the factory and captured this felt maker in action.
Borsalino Making Pencil Roll
Making a pencil roll in the brim of a hat at the Borsalino Hat Factory, January 2006. Susan Lee of Village Hats captured this worker in action.