Patience and Love for Vintage Hat Repairs

Philanthropist Meera Gandhi has been working to inspire people to live a life of inner peace and happiness.  While this quest has taken her all over the world, she recently decided to visit the historic town of Hudson.   

This gave me an opportunity to catch up with a dear friend.  And the topic of the episode was just perfect! It was about revitalization and how to breathe new life and energy into something. Let’s face it…that’s what I do every day. In millinery, something “old” often serves as a point of inspiration. It can be for a new collection, or for a one-of-a-kind hat. Sometimes however, it’s less about inspiration and more about TLC.  At times, there are hats that beg to be taken apart and reworked. I consider these vintage hat repairs as a perfect example of revitalization.

Vintage hat repairs require extra patience and love.

Recently, I came across this type of hat.  It was a 1960s sheared mink hat (it might have been beaver – I wasn’t 100% sure.) The hat had been worn so much that the band was falling apart.  The owner came into my hat shop (I call it a studio) to see if it could be repaired. As she opened the bag, it quickly became apparent that this was a special hat.  It had once belonged to her aunt and held quite a few dear memories. Was I willing to take on more vintage hat repairs?

Absolutely!! Once I begin this project, I started by recording the details of the vintage hat. I find that it’s important to take plenty of pictures and notes. Let’s face it, you may think you remember what it looked like, but after a few days, it’s nice to have an image as a point of reference. Stitch by stitch, I gently took it apart. Always being careful not to damage the hat. Looking at a hat from the inside out is a fabulous way to understand construction and acquire additional millinery skills. But not everyone likes to do these types of vintage hat repairs. While the work can be tedious and time consuming that’s only part of the story. 

I’ve discovered it’s really about the look of sheer joy when the owner sees the repaired hat.