INTERESTING INFORMATION
& 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 peg.

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)

 

Step 1Step 1
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.

Step 2Step 2
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.

Step 3Step 3
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.

Step 4Step 4
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 dyed.

Step 5Step 5
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 durable.

Step 6Step 6
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.

Step 7Step 7
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.

Step 8Step 8
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.

Step 9Step 9
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.

Step 10Step 10
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.
Step 11Step 11
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 maintained.

Step 12Step 12
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.

Step 13Step 13
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 brim.

Step 14Step 14
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 Hats

Most people 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 fabric known.

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 of fabrics.

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 moisture.

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 hatter.

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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Gear Up Northwest
PO Box 1723  -  Eatonville, Washington 98328

360-569-0979

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