& CARING INSTRUCTIONS
FOR AKUBRA HATS
Here are some helpful hints that will
keep your AKUBRA hat in top condition.
First and foremost - Never leave your hat in the car
or in direct sunlight when not being worn. Do not
force dry the hat if it has become wet. The inside
leather band will shrink and once this happens it is
hard to stretch back to its original size. Akubra hats
are shower-proof and include a water proofing solution.
As the hat ages the water proofing during manufacture
may break down and the felt will absorb water. However,
generally your head will remain dry.
Do not squeeze the front of your hat when putting it
on your head as this in time will cause a sharp
point which will be the first place the hat will wear.
Tugging the brim to ensure the fit can spoil the brim if
this is done continually. When not being worn rest
the hat upside down on the crown or hang it on a hat
To properly fit a hat, clear all hair away from the
forehead and place the front of the hat (ribbon bow and
size to the back) on the head: then by placing the palm
of your hand on the back of the crown push the hat down.
The hat should fit firmly on the head so that a good
push down will make the hat stay in place on a windy
day. When trying a hat on you will occasionally find one
size too small and the next too big. It is suggested
that you purchase the larger one and insert a liner
inside the leather sweatband to help the hat fit more
snugly. A hat that feels too tight will never be
comfortable. When the hat is new it may feel a little
stiff. However, with wear the leather hatband will begin
to mould to your head shape.
If the hat brim is out of shape simply place the area
over steam (a kettle will do nicely) until the area is
moist. Remember not to get the inside band wet.
The bent brim can be reshaped with your fingertips and
any crown marks should simply disappear.
Your Akubra should be cleaned by a hat cleaning
specialist only. Listed below are addresses. However if
the hat is slightly soiled with dust and/or grime,
firstly brush the hat in an anti-clockwise
direction to remove any dust and then lightly rub the
affected area with a paint thinner or dry cleaning
fluid. Do not use too much. Car upholstery
cleaner can be used (Kitten B). Spray on and leave for
15-20 seconds then wipe off with a damp cloth.
With care your Akubra hat will provide you with
protection and comfort for many years. Thank you for
purchasing an Akubra.
The Process (step by step)
First, the hair tip is cut from the rest of the fur -
it's not used in hat making. The down under-fur is
then cut from the pelt, cleaned and the manufacturing
process can begin.The fur is placed in an 8-section
blowing machine which mixes it, removing any clotted
hair, felt or dirt. When the fur leaves the machine,
it's like a sheet of soft, downy cotton.
The key to hat making is forming the cone and
this is done in the Forming machine. Here, the fur is
sucked onto a large revolving cone and, as it rotates,
hot water is sprayed onto the fur. This interlocks the
fibres in each direction. When the layer of felt is
stripped from the cone, it is extremely fragile and
about three times the height of the finished hat.
The fragile felt is then wrapped in cloth and placed
between rollers for shrinking. At this early stage,
the shrinkage is rapid as the fibres become tightly
locked. As the felt becomes stronger and tighter, the
rate of shrinking is reduced. This process is repeated
several times, the hats being repositioned regularly
to ensure even pressure.
Each machine can only reduce the size of the hats so
far. Before the hats undergo the next stages in the
manufacturing process, they must be shrunk to near
their final size. The equipment for this job is an
Apron machine which reduces the hats to about a
third of their original size. They are now ready to be
The dying is carried out in large vats, each holding
about 200 hats. It takes about an hour and a half to
dye the hats. This is the end of the body making
process. The part of the hat which will be the brim is
now impregnated with a shellac mixture to make it more
Now the body is complete, the hats are
tip-stretched and blocked. The hat changes
shape, from a cone to a hat with a definite crown.
Dipping the hat in hot water again makes it pliable.
It's eased into shape by metal fingers stretching it
over the ribs of a frame. A brim is now broken out.
After the blocking and brimming, the hats come to the
last of the wet processes - stoving. This is
the final drying of the hats before the trimming takes
place. The hats are placed on racks in large ovens to
be dried off over night. The temperature is kept low
and the air is well-circulated at all times.
The brim needs to be stretched flat so the body of the
hat is pulled over a wooden block. A metal ring holds
the hats band line close to the bottom of the block,
while fingers stretch the brim flat and clear of the
body. We now have a hat of the correct hat size, shape
and brim width.
After this, the hats are automatically ironed. This
provides a good face for the final finishing. The
ironing also causes a reaction with the shellac which
was added to the brim in an earlier process. This now
sets the brim, giving it firmness and durability.
Pouncing is the first of the finishing process.
Here the hat has its fluffy appearance cut down
evenly, using sandpaper on a fast wheel. The cut must
be even to give a smooth, proper finish. It's the
finish on each hat that sets Akubra apart. The hat is
placed on a fast wheel to brush off surplus dust.
80% of the hats leave the factory pre-creased -
the crown is already shaped. The hat is pulled onto a
rubber mould, placed in an aluminium dish and left to
set. The hats are then steamed on a block of the
correct size and shape. It's the last chance to check
the hats dimensions, so the blocks ( made of huon
pine) are kept in top condition and regularly
Many of the trimmings, such as sweatbands, bows and
silk linings, are prepared in the factory. There is a
wide variety of bands and bows used for the various
styles of Akubra hats. The leather sweat band is cut
and stamped with gold foil to show the Akubra crest,
the hat name and that the hat is made in Australia.
It's then carefully fitted to the hat.
One of the final processes is flanging. Here
the hat is placed in a frame to give the brim its
ultimate shape. A wet cloth is placed over the brim to
help with the shaping and the bags of hot sand and
pressure are carefully used to change the shape of the
Finally, the hats are sanded once more, achieving the
best possible finish on each Akubra produced. The
final touches are now added - Bands of material or
leather, feathers, buckles and bows are hand sewn to
the hats, giving each one the distinctive Akubra
style, and upholding the strong tradition of quality.
||Making Fur Felt
probably consider felt as a type of cloth - smoother and
tougher than cotton or woollen fabric, but cloth
nonetheless. But really there is little similarity. Unlike
cloth, felt is made up of many short, single animal fibres.
These fibres interlock; they have a natural tendency to
"crawl" and twist when kneaded and manipulated in hot
water and steam. Pressure, heat and water are used
throughout the hat making process.
Felt is the strongest fabric known,
because every fibre is interlocked in every direction with
a number of other fibres. All other fabrics are made of
fibres which are first twisted into threads and then woven
by hand or machine. Because these threads are always woven
in either right-angled or parallel lines, the woven fabric
can be torn along a straight line.
Since felt does not have the bulk of twisted threads
that woven fabrics do, it's also the smoothest
Felt is the lightest fabric known because
few fibres are required to provide the strength necessary.
For the same reason felt is the most resilient
It's also more impervious to water than
any other fabric. This is for two reasons; first, the
fibres interlock closely making them less absorbent, and
second, the animal fibres themselves do not soak up
Most hats are manufactured from a mixture of furs from
beavers, hares and rabbits. These are selected and used in
percentages to suit the makers' preferences. Very fine
hats are produced from these mixtures.
The largest market is for hats made from rabbit fur.
Rabbit skins are obtained from many countries - England,
Australia, New Zealand, many parts of continent of Europe,
China and South America. English skins are preferred by
some manufacturers, but Australian skins rank highly.
The fur used in manufacturing felt hats is the
downy-under-fur of these animals, not the long, coarse
hair commonly called fur. This under-fur has tiny
barb-like projections on the surface of each fibre and
these barbs lock the fibres to make strong felt.
The fur is graded (cheeks, flanks, sides, centre-backs
or entire) and then packed into different bags for
storage. Fur from the centre-back is the choicest fur, the
fur from the sides is the poorer quality. A good blend is
a proper combination of furs, skillfully selected by the
A Brief History
"The Art and Mistery of Felt Making" is the ancient
description of the hat making trade and it is a phrase
hatters love, for they have great pride in the traditions
of their craft.
Elizabeth of England bestowed upon hatters the title of
Gentlemen. She was on her way to Tilbury to review the men
and ships off to fight the Spanish Armarda when she
observed a "goodly company" gathered near Holborn, wearing
polished beaver hats. She asked who they might be and was
told they were journeymen hatters from Blackfriars and
Southwerke. Quoth she "Then such journeymen must be
gentlemen". And ever since a hatter has been "a gentleman"
and has borne the title with pride. Saint Clement (who
died in 220 AD) is credited with the accidental invention
of felt in Europe. Tradition says St. Clement was doing
penance by walking to a faraway shrine. His sandals became
worn and his feet were painful, when passing through a
field he found some wool which had been left by sheep
shearers. He placed some of it in his sandals to make his
walking easier. At his journey's end the friction,
pressure and moisture had adhered the fine fibres of the
wool and had produced the first form of what is today
known as felt.
Over the years, as technical advances were made and
experience gained, the principles of friction, pressure
and moisture were applied to more finely textured
materials, like rabbit fur, which are used internationally
to make the very fine felt hats of today.
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