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My backlog of hat orders has come to the point that I cannot
accept any further orders for hat blanks or completed hats.
Please don't write or call and ask if I am now making hats.
I will update this message when I can again accept hat orders.

Visit www.CockedHats.com for authentic hats made by George Franks
and on Facebook visit M. Brenckle, Hatter page for the very best hats.

To order any Hat or Helmet Accessories: click on this PDF icon and follow the instructions on the top of the page.
Hat and Helmet Accessories Order Form.pdf.

Hat Stiffening
If your existing hat is becoming a bit droopy it can be renewed by:
· Let the brims down and brush out the loose dirt from the felt.
· Make a mixture of 1 part shellac (white or orange 3 lb cut) to 2 parts denatured alcohol.
· Liberally brush the mixture to one side of the felt. It should quickly absorb into the felt and not lay on the surface. Allow to dry thoroughly (about 8 hours).
· Repeat to other side of felt. Apply additional coats if desired.

Hat Felt Stiffening Powder
The shellac and denatured alcohol recipe above works quite well, but it can stink up the house. Here is an alternative: a purified form of the shellac is now available as a powder. Mixed with 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, which can be found at any pharmacy or grocery store, it makes a clear and fast drying mixture for hat stiffening. I have been using this for a few years and it really works.
· Get a disposable bowl with tight fitting lid and plastic spoon. One of those deli counter plastic containers will work just fine as the bowl. You will also need a 1" wide paint brush.
· Pour 1 cup of 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol and 1 tablespoon of water into the bowl.
· Stir in 1/3 cup of shellac powder into the Rubbing Alcohol. Stir until the lumps are gone, this will take a few minutes. The mixture will be a buff color, and slightly thick.
· Cover the bowl or container and set aside for one hour. The mixture will become clear and is now ready to use. Keep the bowl covered when you are not using it.
· If you are working on an old hat, let the brims down and brush out the loose dirt from the felt. Have a large clean, flat board ready as you will lay the wet shellacked hat onto it soon. If you are working on a new hat, keep the hat on the blocking board with the hat block in the crown.
· Liberally brush the mixture to the top side of the hat brim and crown. It should quickly absorb into the felt. Allow to dry thorougly - about 8 hours.
· When the hat is dry apply a coat of shellac to the underside of the hat: under the brim and inside the crown. Again allow to dry thoroughly.
· If the felt is not stiff enough to your liking apply a third coat. When I apply a third coat it is usually only to the brim, and sometimes to the top of the crown. If you apply too many coats you will get yellow blotches of shellac on the felt surface. When the hat is dry apply a coat of shellac to the underside of the hat: under the brim and inside the crown. Again allow to dry thoroughly.
· While the hat is still flat, get a steam iron and apply steam to the entire hat. Don't touch the iron to the hat felt, just hover just above it. This will set the shellac. Allow to dry thoroughly.
· Before you cock the hat get the steam kettle fired up again. Where you want to bend the felt, apply steam until the felt is soft and nearly too hot to hold. Bend the felt up into place and hold until it cools. What you are doing is bending the felt while the shellac is pliable. It then rehardens and holds the cock. Repeat this for all parts of the brim to be cocked.
Hat Felt Stiffening Powder - enough for two batches of stiffening solution (ie makes 2 cups or 1 pint of solution) $10

Hat Felt
If you wish to block your own hat I do have black hat felt flares available. These are 100% wool made by Bollman Hat Co. in Pennsylvania. These are "Flares" which have a crown and the brim just starts to flare out. In the hat trade hoods are just as they sound, the crown and brim are vertical. Cartwheels are also known as hat blanks and have a distinct horizontal brim. Most of the hat blanks sold at events and by sutlers are already impregnated with stiffening. These blanks are primarily for the commercial hat trade where machinery is used to steam and stretch out the hat brim. A tell tale sign of these hat blanks are the impressions left on the brim edge where the plier like fingers of the machinery have gripped and pulled the brims. The problem for someone blocking hats by hand is that there is so much stiffening already in these hat blanks that you cannot resize the crown or stretch the brim with home equipment. My flares do not have any stiffening, so you can block the hat and stretch the brims with a hot steam iron and fingers. For most head sizes you should be able to block these hat flares and get a 6" brim. $16 each.

Hat Blocks
If you want to block your own hat you need a wooden hat block for your head size. Blocks are 4" tall and round, not oblong. Just about any size block can be made, and in my 35 years of hat making I've made hats from size 6 3/4 to 8 1/4, but the most common sizes are in the 7 1/8 to 7 1/2 range. Don't know you hat size? Measure the circumference of your head with a tape touching your eyebrow and level around the head. Divide that measurement by Pi (aka 3.14) and that is your hat size. Hat blocks are $60 each. These are custom made to order, and not a stock item. Allow 6 weeks for delivery.

Hat Band or Cord
Though we commonly call the cords/tapes with tassels "hat cords" that is not correct. Hat cords are used in the process of blocking the wet hat crown and brim felt to size and are removed and reused when the hat has dried. At the base of crowns on original hats you can see the indentation caused by this cord during the process. Hat bands are mostly decorative and very few have survived. The ones I make are based on originals seen on soldiers hats in Ireland. A 1/2" wide worsted wool tape goes around the crown and 1/4" tape extends from the crown band to the wool tassels.

Black or White wool tape. The standard overall length is 42", which includes the 2" tassels. The standard size works for medium size cocked hats. If you wish a 4" longer tape so the tassels hang over the brim, or you have a extra large hat size, please specify a Long tape on the order form. If you wish a 5" shorter tape for use with a round hat that has narrow brims, please specify a Short tape on the order form. The photo shows an earlier version and will be updated soon. $12.00

Silver or Gold tape and tassel. No longer available.


Black Horsehair Cockade - handsewn and made from black horsehair fabric. Cuthbertson (pg. 80) writes, "Hair cockades are strongest, and of course fittest for soldiers".
Rectangular or Rosette - No longer available. These were made by my wife Debra who died on March 3rd.

Black Silk Cockade - handsewn and made from heavy faille (ribbed) black silk.
Rectangular or Rosette - No longer available. These were made by my wife Debra who died on March 3rd.

[Horse Hair Cockades]For comparison:
top cockade is horsehair,
bottom cockade is silk.

For comparison:
left cockade is silk,
right cockade is horsehair.

Rectangular cockades are approx. 5" wide and 4½" tall. Rosette cockades are approx. 4" diameter.

[Silk Cockade]Alliance Cockade, handsewn from heavy faille (ribbed) black and white silk for Continental Army hats.
Rectangular or Rosette. No longer available. These were made by my wife Debra who died on March 3rd.
[Ostrich plumes]Ostrich plumes - to embellish hats and helmets. Approximately 18" tall. Available in Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black, or White. $5.00 each


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(before calling or emailing me, please read the FAQ or Ordering Information page
because most of the questions I get are answered on those pages)

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This site is maintained by Debra
First launched 5-9-91.