I wear hats a lot, ask anyone who knows me & they will tell you I'm seldom without a hat I'm even wearing one in my Instructables profile picture.
Over the years there have been quite a variety of styles & in my collection today I have everything from simple woollen skull caps, canvas panamas, fur lined ones with flaps for really bad winter days & of course the obligatory Fedora as worn by Indiana Jones, but my favourite has always been the high crowned wide brimmed hat we all know & love as the Stetson or cowboy hat.
I have over a dozen of them some cost only a few pounds some considerably more, some are straw some are cloth, others are wool felt & one is leather but they all have one thing in common a hatband.
I have often been disappointed with the hatbands that come with a new hat, they are usually just a plain strip of fabric or even a cord with a knot in it, I prefer something with a bit more style to it, nothing too elaborate but certainly better than a bit of cord.
I have found that bands to suit Stetson hats can vary widely in quality & price & to tell the truth I seldom found one I liked that seemed to be worth the asking price.
With this in mind many years ago I took to making my own & being the guy I am almost all of them have been made from materials I salvaged from things that otherwise would probably have ended up in a landfill.
All of the bands in the next few steps were made from salvaged/re-purposed materials.
My better half Joanie volunteers in our local Marie Curie Cancer Care charity shop, they are a wonderful organization whose efforts have benefited tens of thousands of people for over sixty years if you have never heard of them you can find out more about them here.
The shop sells things donated by the public, clothes & accessories being a large part of these donations, they often get carrier bags filled with belts of various kinds which are of course always welcome but occasionally they get one which is a tangled mess of those fashion belts which are essentially knotted cord or leather laces sometimes with beads or other decorations.
Once in a while they have so many it really gets to be a chore untangling them all so Joanie pays a few pounds for a bag full of them rather than have them sit around the shop & brings them home for me to make things from.
With the exception of a little glue some packing string & two conchos salvaged from some motorcycle saddle bags a few years ago all the materials I have used came from those belts.
This will be a sort of combination 'ible, part photo 'ible of hatbands I have made in the past followed by a step by step 'ible of a new one made to show some of my methods.
Step 1: My Crushable Straw "festival Hat"
This hat was bought a few years ago from a charity shop for the princely sum of 50p (around 80 cents US).
I lacked a band of any kind & looked kind of naked but it was sitting on a shelf still with it's original shop tags on & at that price I couldn't just leave it there so using the excuse that it was a hot day & as I had been to a meeting I was currently hatless I decided to give it a new home.
Being a lightweight crushable straw hat I didn't want anything that would be too heavy so I opted for a simple plait consisting of three pairs of brown cord, once this was done I then threaded two white cords (actually packing string) which sit between two of the brown sets, on these I added a few random beads just to give it a bit of colour, I smeared a little UHU clear adhesive onto the cords to give them a little support.
As you can see the plaited section only goes around approximately two thirds of the hat & is brought together at the back with a loop of cords knotted at the back, I did it this way because I found the hat to be a little loose & with a knotted band I was able to pull it in a little but still be able to loosen it if I wish.
This band has been on for about two & a half years now it has been worn a lot & so far has survived perfectly well.
Step 2: My Waxed Leather Hat.
I bought this hat a few weeks ago, I had a black one many years ago that went everywhere with me unfortunately it was lost at a gig about 25 years ago & for some reason I never got around to getting a new one.
If you have never owned a waxed leather hat I can recommend them wholeheartedly, they look great, last forever provided you look after them, for a hat wearer like me they are the perfect hat for the winter months, there is nothing more unpleasant than wearing a soggy hat in snow or rain it's cold, uncomfortable & generally pointless, one of these stays dry keeps your head warm & won't take forever to dry before you can wear it again.
Unfortunately as usual the hatband it came with left a little to be desired, it's a thin plaited cord & although it's not horrible it isn't exactly nice either, it can still be seen in the pictures as it is attached to the hat with stitches that also hold the internal sweatband in place so it will have to wait until I have a bit more time on my hands to remove it.
The new band consists of six strands in three pairs, two are brown leather the third is black faux leather.
I threaded the strands through an old chrome plated concho & used a simple overhand plait until I had sufficient to go all around the crown of the hat then threaded the strands back through the concho leaving the ends loose at the left of the back of the brim.
I think it looks great & far more "me" than the original was.
Step 3: My Straw High Top Hat.
I bought this hat a couple of years ago in Joanies shop, it cost about £2.00 ($3.20).
It's a bit more structured than the previous straw hat with a higher crown & a little more solid feel about it as far as a straw hat can be considered solid anyway.
I wanted something a bit stronger looking on this one so I chose to use four pairs of faux leather laces in a plain unadorned plait, as with the waxed leather hat I threaded the laces through a concho plaited sufficient to go all around the crown & again passed the ends back through the concho leaving the ends loose at the back left side of the brim.
the original brown fabric band can still be seen in the pictures, I am planning to remove it but as this is a straw hat it acts as a support for the sweatband inside which means I will have to either replace it with something less obvious or attach the sweatband to the new outer band' I'll probably go with the latter but it's one of those jobs that can wait until a winter night when I have little else to do.
Step 4: My Rockmount Wool Felt Hat.
I bought this Rockmount wool felt hat around 22 years ago, I believe it was around £30.00 which back then was not a cheap hat, I've not worn it much in recent years but for six or seven years it was worn several times a week all year round.
The band you see in the picture was made from an old leather whip, it looked quite good when I made it but the years have not been kind & it's time for a change so this is the hat I will be making a new band for in the step by step part if this 'ible.
Step 5: Materials.
I would have preferred to use leather laces for this hatband but the only ones I had available were either too thin or too wide for the finish I wanted so I decided to use faux leather ones for the time being, I will probably make a replacement in the future when I have some suitable leather.
I wanted a two colour band secured with a concho so chose some brown & black laces the black one will be cut into two before plaiting.
The first job is to thread the laces through the concho leaving a few inches on one side, I then threaded beads onto the long pairs to help keep them in order as it is quite easy to loose track of the strands particularly if you are using quite a few of them.
I usually find it easier to hold the end of the strands in a vice it helps to keep the tension even throughout the plait.
Step 7: Plaiting Your Band.
Using a simple overhand plait gradually slide the beads toward the end until you have sufficient length to go all around the crown.
Once you have the length you need remove the band from the vice.
At this point you will need to form a loop to pass the concho through,again I usually hold the band in the vice, split your pairs into two even groups & make a loop with an overhand knot, your loop should be large enough for the concho to pass through with a little force, pass the ends back through the loop once more & it's done.
Now all you need to do is push your concho through the loop & you have a finished hatband ready to fit on your hat.
Step 8: The Finished Band on the Hat.
Once the band is formed you will need to arrange the loose strands, I simply passed them around & under the band & as with the previous ones left them loose at the back & to the left of the brim.
So now my trusty old Rockmount has a new band, as I said I would prefer leather but for the time being it will do nicely.
I need to stretch the brim a little as the felt has contracted a bit while not in use & it needs to be steamed & reshaped a but it looks good to me & my better half Joanie likes it so I'm happy.
The old band has gone into a box of bits & bobs, you never know it may yet find a new use in the future.
So I have four hats with new bands that look much better in my opinion at least than those they were made with.
Total outlay for them around £5.00 for the donor belts that's around $8.00 US at the current rate a few more bits have been kept out of landfill & hopefully I have given some of you some ideas for projects of your own.