How to Rescue An Old Straw Hat
Written by Sally_in_Wales
Whilst clearing out a cupboard I came across this very sad looking crumpled heap of a sunhat. It might look beyond rescue, but it's really very easy to get a hat like this back into shape. This method also works on hats that are in good order but not the style you want; you can easily reshape them into something you'll get some wear out of.
First things first. Resist the temptation to try to straighten it out right away. Get it into a sink of warm water with a drop of washing-up liquid and let it soak for 5 or 10 minutes. This will get out any dust and dirt as well as softening up the straw, rush or seagrass that is typically used for this sort of hat.
Give it a quick rinse, and whilst it drains in the sink, look for something to use as a hat block. Be creative here, measure your head and find something close to the right size, I've used a bowl supported on a jar, but you might find a flowerpot or upturned saucepan of the right general shape and size. If in doubt, go fractionally smaller for the first shaping. You can easily reblock it a bit larger later on.
Your hat should be soft enough now to uncrumple. Very gently pull it into a hat shape, then smooth it over your improvised hat block into the right shape. if needs be, use a rubber band to keep the crown in place, but in my case the hat came back into shape very easily.
If you are happy with the shaping, just let it dry overnight and you are done. If you need to do more work on it, maybe to give the brim a specific shape or to adjust the size, just lightly dampen the straw, give it 5 minutes to soften, and arrange the hat as required before letting it dry.