Handle with care
Fine straw, sea grass, raffia and abaca hats should be gently handled with both hands, not pinched by two fingers (like in the movies) when putting on or taking off. Such abuse will cause fibers to break, creating a non-repairable hole; plus pulling a hat off your head with one hand also unattractively stretches the brim. Grandma took such excellent care of her hats that many have been passed down to daughters, granddaughters and nieces for continued enjoyment.
Crown size too big?
Smaller sized ladies can have trouble finding a hat that doesn’t slide down over their eyes. Higher end hats usually have a headband inside the brim which makes an adjustment easy. From the hardware store, simple 3/4 inch window weather stripping is a good, inexpensive solution for a better fit. Measure a length of “hat tape” that stretches temple to temple on your face. Gently place foam tape between hat band and crown in the front of your hat. This should take up at least one hat size for you. If you own a hat you love, but it is still too large, cut tape to go entirely around your head. When satisfied with the new size, remove the backing and stick to the reverse side of the hat band, not to the hat itself. Try hat on once more for fit, removing excess tape if necessary. If desired for a finished look, gently hand-baste in place a length of large, double fold bias tape over both the weather stripping and the original hat band.
Gardening in the Hot Sun
Paper braid hats, by their very nature have a built in “wick away” feature. Once you wear a paper braid hat for a day, you’ll never go back to common straw hats. Know why the usual gardening straw hat does not protect you from harmful sun? To allow roughly woven straw hats to breathe, openings are placed into the design to let moisture out, but this also lets in the sun, which not the best thing for thin or light colored hair, increasing your exposure to harmful rays.
To keep your inner hat band fresh, cut a threadbare hand towel into two inch strips, fold over both sides of the stretchy band in our premium garden hats or the ribbon hat band in our economy line, and hand baste with needle and thread. At the end of the gardening season, simply replace the terry cloth. For gardeners with smaller heads, but who like the coverage of our larger hats, use a thicker towel for a better fit.
Cleaning Natural Fiber Hats
Natural fiber hats can either be gently spot cleaned or wiped with a damp cloth. Fancy hats that have been sitting unprotected on a table or shelf should be vacuumed or gently dusted with a cool setting hair dryer. However, be mindful of embellishments like feathers and fragile flowers. Use the edger tool to carefully vacuum out crevices. Packable cloth hats of cotton/poly, 100% cotton, and poly ribbon can be carefully hand washed in cold water, line dried, loosely folded, then stored in cloth or paper bag to keep dust-free. Only garden hats of 100% poly blends can be gently rinsed and air dried for cleaning soil from brims. If your garden hat becomes saturated by rain or cleaning, stuff crown with an absorbent cotton towel for support and air-dry overnight.
Proper Hat Storage
Storing Fine Straw, Abaca, Felt and other fancy hats: Do not hang on a peg or leave flat on a dresser for longer than a few nights, instead use a hat “head” to maintain shape and cover with a paper bag to keep off dust. For long term storage, stuff hat with tissue paper to keep crown and brim supported, then place in cloth or a cardboard “hat box” to allow the natural fibers to breathe; avoid using plastic containers.
Repairing Creases, Bumps and Bruises
Paper braid Gardening and Resort hats must never be folded and put into carry-on luggage while damp. If you are in a humid climate, wear your hat on the way home, don’t pack it. Should your hat develop unwanted dips and ridges from tight, long distance packing, your trusty steam iron comes to the rescue.
Either put a heavy rolled towel into the crown for support, place on top of an overturned saucepan, or use a “hat head” to begin the process of steaming. Working on the kitchen counter, first lightly spray hat with plain water in a hidden spot to check for color bleeding/spotting. If the hat is colorfast, hold the steam iron (or handy clothing steamer) about 4 inches away from the area you want to shape. With the back of a wooden spoon, gently shape and steam until the crown is correct. If you have wavy sections of brim (from folding or pulling), steam well and very gently push wayward fibers back in line, using full, unopened soup cans as weights. Leave cans against the brim overnight to completely dry.
Crushed silk flowers, bows and other embellishments can be revived in a similar fashion. Use the end of a bamboo skewer, not fingers, to gently shape and form, holding each section until it stays on its own, then leave your hat in place to air-dry overnight.