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  1. #1

    The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Hi folks!
    I´m Markus from Austria and I´m new here.

    When I started wearing hats in mid 2014 it didn´t take long until I stumbled upon some Indy hats in online hatshops. That´s when the bug bit me and I really got into the topic, finally wanting one myself.
    I avoided to get a crappy licensed hat and started to research.I found the premium vendors and also this wonderful forum. I´m grateful for all the detailed info I got here! (The forum seems very quiet by now but hopefully there are some survivers left here)

    Being an extremely picky guy when it comes to shapes, colors and proportions, I felt that non of the available offerings would produce the look I wanted. So I faced the challenge to make my own one.
    The first thing I realized was that in order to get the look I had to start with my exact head shape and fit the desired block shape on top of that. I used a well worn in hat as a template.

    From bashing open crowned Fedoras I had a rough idea where to start with the bock shape.
    I was well aware that this would only be a first prototype block.

    For the first try I used a brown rabbit fur hat body. Rough stuff...

    After blocking and sanding

    Sweatband attached

    The ribbon was an enormous challenge...
    1,5" ribbons are available in all sorts of quality. BUT: I have hat size 56. So the proportion of that ribbon width and surface structure is wrong.
    What I needed was a ribbon with slightly over 36mm width and a finer structure. With little hope that a thing like that even exists I began to search.
    After weeks I found a vintage ribbon with exactly those properties! Only that it was green. So I spent hours of trial and error to dye it to a suitable color to fit the chocolate brown felt.

    Making the bow and sewing the stuff onto the hat took me some more hours - I´m anything but talented for this kind of work...

    Eventually I ended up with a surprisingly good result regarding the crown shape - not perfect though. And I got the size slightly too small. I don´t have an photo of this hat when new just shadows of it.

    Over the weeks it stretched around the sweatband and it once got really soaked with enduring heavy rain, so it´s tapered by now. I still like it

    2 B continued
    Last edited by Grailhunter; 11-11-2016 at 06:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table neutronbomb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Markus. Very well done. I know gunslinger had started a thread about building a fedora from scratch, but for a first effort the result looks great. Can you tell us where you got the hat body?

  3. #3

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    So does the cat...

    This hat is now almost exactly 1 year old and has proven well. However it doesn´t really look like the Raiders fedora.

    Meanwhile I´ve made a new block. I bought raw Herbert Johnson Poet bodies from Advintage in Germany, blocked them, bashed them, made changes to the block. And again blocked the bodies, bashed them, and so on. Until I was quite satisfied. Nice side effect: The multiple blocking/steaming, seems to beat the memory out of the felt and it´s getting quite resistant to shrinking.

    Now for prototype hat Nr.2:

    Blocking and bashing a new hat is one thing. The other thing is to examine how well it behaves when worn over some months and how it finally settles in.

    To test that I used a "Junior" Fedora, bought in early January 2015 (from Advintage again. For 62 Euros it was a tremendous value btw!) I heavily used this hat for about 18months in all conditions and you could really tell. The shape was...well, different...and fortunately the slightly greeninsh hue of the felt faded away just perfectly.
    Here it´s dismantled and ready to be "molten in" over hot steam. It´s visible that it had a very wide (41mm) ribbon which never did it for me.

    I repeated the steaming/blocking/ironing process again with this body. Btw, after blocking it the first time it helps to put it in the flange and press the block in. It´s easier to maintain the brim break this way.

    After blocking I sanded off lots of material to give it the proper thickness (thinness that is).
    This time I didn´t just dye the ribbon but went the extra mile to age it and get rid of the beautiful silky sheen it has. Making the bow and attaching it was once again a major PITA... I reused the sweatband as it was a perfect fit.
    And here it is! I took these photos today. The hat has now been worn quite intensely over nearly three months and developed perfectly! Quite close to the Raiders look I´d say.

    When worn it looks slightly different. It sits perfectly tight without being uncomfortable. I call it "Playmobil fit" - almost snaps on. It doesn´t fall off

    Close-up of the bow in sunlight.

    I´m still fascinated how the ribbon appears to change contrast and color in different lighting conditions. Downside it that this very property made the dying process really difficult.

  4. #4

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Quote Originally Posted by neutronbomb View Post
    Markus. Very well done. I know gunslinger had started a thread about building a fedora from scratch, but for a first effort the result looks great. Can you tell us where you got the hat body?
    Thanks! I got the chocolate brown body from Advintage in late summer 2015 for 19Euro (if I remember right). It´s very thick material to start with.
    The HJ raw bodies Advintage sells are prepounced and the felt quality I really a different class so it´s definatley worth the money. And it´s sable, not chocolate brown ;-) I´m looking forward to finish a hat from one of those hopefully soon.

    Gunslinger´s thread is fantastic and was a great motivation for me. Then a fellow hat nerd found an old Austrian education book for hat makers which eventually gave me the confidence to start this project.
    Last edited by Grailhunter; 11-14-2016 at 05:35 PM.

  5. #5
    Artifact Aficionado JeffDJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Fantastic job on those hats, Markus! That second one especially looks like it came right off the movie set!

  6. #6
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table Gunslinger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Awesome work, man!

    More people should build their own hats. Sure it takes work, but it shows you can make something truly fantastic.
    "Go then, there are other worlds than these." ~ Jake Chambers

  7. #7

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Thank you very much guys! It means a lot to get such feedback from experts like you!

    I´m really happy with that second hat. Despite it´s very thin now it performs great and maintains the shape and bash exceptionally well. Just some hours after I took those pics it got crushed severely beneath a fiddle case. I just popped out the crown and it looks the same as before again :-)

    I´ve made some observations regarding color behaviour and I plan to post some more pics to get them across. Hopefully I have time for that tomorrow. (My crappy old Internet-computer is slow as hell...)

  8. #8

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    In the photos of Protohat II the ribbon seems very light, almost lighter than the felt, and sure enough a tad lighter than it usually appears to me.
    The pics were shot through a Canon DSLR with a vintage lens in diffuse daylight (window).

    So I experimented with different angles of direct light to find out what is going on (here I used a Fuji X10 which I like for it´s color rendition).
    In this shot lighting is from a LED spot with a silver diffusor on the left side. I tried to duplicate the light situation of a certain Cairo screenshot. From that camera position the ribbon looks much darker!

    However from a high camera position there´s way less contrast!

    On Protohat 1 on the right you can see the silky shine this ribbon originally has.

    On older outdoor pics I found similar contrast behaviour.

    Again with a low camera position and light mainly from above the ribbon has more contrast to the felt.
    In a tight, shady canyon. The blue hue comes from the blue sky.

    The outdoor pics are from August and September. Meanwhile the hat´s been rained on and I got the center pinch tighter when it was wet. I´m not too happy about the sweat stains that appeared recently but then it´s just my general utility hat and I won´t baby it.

  9. #9

    Re: The long way to my ultimate Raiders hat - selfmade!

    Hi folks,

    I have some more color comparisons for you.
    First as reference the stuff we know already. The faded and redone Advintage Junior and the chocolate brown Proto 1.

    Next one of my Herbert Johnson bodies after going through multiple steaming/blocking/ironing processes.

    And finally a HJ body as supplied without any work done.
    Note how much darker it is! The ribbon is one piece of the same color.

    I dyed and aged the ribbon to be a nice fit to the lighter felt.
    I guess the wet ironing washes out quite a bit of color and stiffener. Of course care needs to be taken to do it very uniformly. The felt still holds it´s shape/bash very well and feels gorgeous. When pounced to a 800grit surface it really looks very smooth and dressy. By far too beautiful for a credible Raiders look.

    This is a 400grit finish on the light felt

    Judging from the Proto II color I think this lighter sable hue might be just about right.

    Of course I can only guess here as exposure and color grading sure has a big impact. Anyway, with the untouched sable my face would look really pale, especially in winter. Like a Dracula version of Indy

    Merry Christmas everybody!



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