The making of a Husst Peachbloom Velour hat body

Stage 1 – Hair Blowing and Mixing Process

To prepare the hair it is blown in blowing machines to separate the finer hairs from those over 15 microns in thickness known as “guard hairs”. Thicker hairs cannot be used to make quality fur felts but are used to make “filter hoods” which are used in the dyeing process described later.

After the blowing/separating process various sorts of fur, different colours and thickness’, are tumbled in a large rotary drum to obtain a controlled uniformity of mix. The following 5 photos show this in detail:

i) Hair blowing (guard hair removal) machines

ii) Hair blowing room

iii) Rotary mixing drum for the mixing of different types of hair

iv) Hair blowing and mixing machines

v) Hair after blowing and mixing ready for production


Stage 2 – Making the felt hood

In order to make the basic felt hood form the hair is drawn onto a perforated metal form in a vacuum chamber. A predetermined amount of hair, usually between 100 and 300 grams, is weighed out and passed into the vacuum-forming machine. The conical metal form on which the hair will be deposited is located in the middle of the chamber and air is drawn out from the inside of the cone causing a partial vacuum which draws the hair onto the shape evenly. Once all the hair has been deposited the hood is rinsed and then removed from the machine. The hood at this stage is considerably bigger and thinner than the finished article and it needs to be consolidated to the correct size. During this manufacturing process the initial consolidation or “hardening” is begun by rolling 3 to 5 hoods into a single roll, this starts the shrinking process that continues in the next stage. The following 9 photographs show the process described:

i) Perforated conical hood former

ii) Selecting and weighing hair before loading into forming machines

iii) Loading hair into forming machines

iv) Hood forming process

v) Rinsing hood after forming in vacuum machine

vi) Removing hood from former

vii) Hood after removal from former

viii) Making rolls of hoods (3 to 5 pieces) for preliminary shrinking

ix) Rolling machines for preliminary “hardening”


Stage 3 – Main Felting Process

The main felting process provides the shrinkage of the hood to the final size required. For this purpose multi-rollers are used through which the hoods are passed many times between the two vibrating rollers together with the addition of hot water to press and shrink the hoods. The hoods are passed through time and time again until the correct size is achieved and the felting process has completed. The following 3 photos show these procedures:

i) Felting room

ii) Felting process on multi-roller machine

iii) Close up of multi-roller felting machine

Stage 4 – Dyeing

The hoods are now washed and pulled onto metal cones for the 10 cone dyeing machines. The top and bottom cones are made from the waste material described in stage 3. These act as filters during the pressurised dyeing process to stop any undisolved dyestuffs being deposited on the good hoods. In the dyeing machine that is formed of a bank of 5 pots the dyestuff solution is pumped THROUGH the hat body under high pressure, which provides an excellent quality of dyeing. The following 5 photos show the process in detail:

i) Rinsing hoods before dyeing

ii) Pulling hood for dyeing machine

iii) Pulling second hood over first – process repeats up to 10 hoods

iv) Multi-head high pressure dyeing machine preparation

v) Dyeing machine in operation

Stage 5 - Stiffening and shaping process

Dyed hoods are stiffened with a predetermined strength of Shellac solution. If a flare or a capeline shape is required the brims are opened with a brim-breaking machine. Then the brims are widened, crowns blocked and the brims stretched using specialist machines. The following 5 photos show these processes:

i) Stiffening hoods with shellac

ii) Additional brim stiffening with shellac

iii) Brim breaking machine

iv) Brim widening with 4 cone widening machine

v) Brim stretching machine


Stage 6 - Dry finishing processes

The surface of the hat body made in the previous stages can be “finished” in a number of ways such as Smooth, Velour, Suede etc and this is done by skilled operators using specialist shaving/sanding machines such as those shown in the 9 photographs below. This is very time consuming work and is carried out by the eye and “feel” of the experienced workers to achieve the perfection of a “Husst” fur felt.

i) Hood pouncing with shark skin

ii) Brim processing with velour cutting machine

iii) Suede polishing pouncing machine

iv) Brushing crown with bronze brush

v) Shaving crown of hat body with velour cutting machine

vi) Picking up hairs with carding machine

vii) Cleaning hoods with vacuum de-duster

viii) Checking finished weight

ix) Pile of finished capelines