Texas Hatters moved from their home here in Austin out to Lockhart Texas a while back — and a good friend of mine and I decided to take a little road trip and check them out. They have been making hats the same basic way since the 1920’s….starting with unfinished felt blanks and finishing them by hand. Each “blank” is steamed until soft then stretched over a wooden block approperiate for the customes style and size. Once tied on – the blank is wetted and ironed for several minuits. In the old days, hat makers would slick the fur down with mercury which poisoned them and made them insane (hence the saying,‘mad as a hatter’). They then give the hat a hair cut by applying sand paper. This sanding and ragging give the blank an almost polished look. This is especially so with the pure beaver. The same basic steps are then used for the brim on a wooden form called a flange. After the blocking and flanging, they then cut the genuine leather sweatbands to size and sew them in by hand. Next, the satin lining and the ribbon trim is also sewn in by hand. After all the trim, fancy or plain, each hat is then hand creased to the customer’s specifications. Of course, mail orders and now e-mail ordering makes things a little more complicated, but their custom treatment still goes into each and every hat they make.
If you ever get a chance — give Texas Hatters a try — they make one heck of a hat !