Tappe Hat Restoration: Cleaning and Scanning

I knew when I started my hat block project I wanted to try to use what I learned from the Kim block in a restoration project. One of the biggest challenges in restoring a blocked hat is coaxing it into its original shape. Many vintage and antique hats were blocked on highly specific blocks that are no longer in existence.

I found this lovely restoration candidate shoved into the back of a drawer. It was badly mangled but it looked like it had good bones.

Based on clues left in the wool of its original shape and a little research on The House of Tappe, I feel confident in saying that this hat dates to the 1940’s.

The first step in restoring the Tappe Hat was to clean it and coax it back into something like its original shape. After much steaming and a light coat of hat sizing, I was able to restore it to an approximation of its shape when it came off the block. Unlike the Kim Hat which relied on the block for all of its shaping, the Tappe hat was likely blocked into a simple shape and then manipulated after the fact into a more complicated one. However, they both shared some distinctive 1940’s features including a high crown and a narrow asymmetrical brim.

I then scanned the partially reshaped hat.

Though I was able to coax the Tappe hat back into something like its original shape, there were still considerable flaws. I was able to correct these flaws in the scan so that the eventual hat block would be as close to the original as possible. Once the design is done I will use it to cut a hat block on which the Tappe hat could be properly repaired and reshaped.