How to make traditional formed headwear

All our formed hats, either Hunt Caps, Top Hats or Bowlers are made in the pre fibre glass method using a material called gossamer. This is formed by pasting a shellac- based paste mixture over a linen sheet. This is left to cure before being cut into smaller pieces prior to being applied to the hat block to form body of the hat.

With Top Hats & Bowlers the gossamer body is laid onto the block directly and built up to the weight and strength required. This could be a light weight for walking or occasional use, to a full hunting weight or "Doorman's" weight for extensive users. Once this has dried, which can take a number of days, it is then covered with the finish as required and completed.

With a Hunt Cap, underneath the gossamer is a fur felt hood base. We only use grade one quality hood in a Honri Hat. This hood is soaked in mentholated sprits heated with steam and then pulled over the hat block, which dictates the shape and size of the cap. There are blocks for each size and style of hunt cap. Once the hood has dried, we can then start to apply the layers of gossamer. Between each layer we apply more of the shellac paste, which acts as both a glue and a hardener. Finally, the body is ironed flat using 20kg hot irons. This compresses the layers of the body that had been built up. The whole process of making the body takes 5 days. It is then left to dry fully, the longer it is left aids the strength of the body, this could take up to two weeks before it has reached the level that we require. The cap is then covered with a velvet covering which has been cut and stitched already and then lined with satin, so as to avoid getting too hot while wearing the cap.