Texas Living

DIY Personalized Cowboy Hats

By Abi Grise Morgan 5.21.24

Personalized cowboy hats are growing in popularity but often come with a hefty price tag! With a few household tools, you can DIY it and customize your cowboy hat yourself, reshaping it for the perfect fit and adorning it with flair as you please.

Choose Your Material

Straw hats keep your head cool by permitting airflow. However, they don’t block UV rays and have a shorter shelf life. Felt hats are typically made from a blend of fibers and animal skins (rabbit or beaver, for example). They’re built to last and are water-repellant, but they can trap heat.

Choose a Brim Style

There are near-infinite styles to choose from when creating a personalized cowboy hat, but here are a few basics to get started:

  • Cattleman: Traditional shape with three creases in the crown and a slightly curled brim.
  • Pinched Front Crease: Sharp, V-shaped crown with dual pinches in front, which can make the face look thinner.
  • Boss of the Plains: Round, flat brim with a smooth and tall rounded crown; great for sun protection.
  • Brick Crease: Rectangular indentation at the hat’s crown, side brims curled up.
  • Gamblers Crease: Wide, flat brim and flat crown.
  • Open Crown Crease: Creaseless, with a rounded top and a flat brim.
  • Ridge Top: Like the Cattleman, only taller with exaggerated creases and ridges on the crown.
  • Dakota: Similar to the Cattleman, with a rectangle crown crease.
  • Gus: Pinch of the crown’s front appears sloped; suitable for cold temperatures, as it traps warm air.

Shape Your Hat

In general, you want your hat to complement your face. The narrower your face, the higher you should make the edges of your hat.

Inexpensive felt hats often have a wire sewn into the front brim, making it easy to shape by hand. Steaming is the method of choice for shaping higher-end felt hats, but ensure it’s not made with any wool beforehand. To steam your hat, hold the brim over boiling water (keep your hands away from the steam!) until the felt is bendable. Be sure you steam it crown-side down to avoid damaging the leather sweatband. Work in sections, allowing each part to cool slightly before moving to the next. Complete the job with hat stiffening spray.

Palm leaf hats usually include a handy wire around the circumference for easy shaping. Simply submerge the hat into lukewarm water for 30-60 seconds, then curl the brim as desired. Do not attempt to shape the crown of the hat — the fibers will break. Let it air-dry.

Embellish Your Hat

Hatbands were invented to cover the stitching of the cowboy hat’s sweatband, but nowadays, they’ve taken on another role: personal flair. Before you begin adding all the bells and whistles, find your hatband length by measuring the circumference of the hat’s crown and adding about six inches.

You can’t go wrong with the standard, which includes a felt strip that’s the same color as the hat, fastened by a small buckle at the back. But there are near-infinite ways to embellish your hat, depending on your taste and the occasion. Add braided leather, silver conchos (shells), leather tassels, feathers, or colorful beads — the sky’s the limit!

Now that you have your very own personalized cowboy hat, study up on how to become a modern cowboy or cowgirl.

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