A fitted hat is a great addition to any wardrobe, but it can be frustrating if it’s too tight or uncomfortable to wear. If you’re here, you’ve likely found that depending on brand and material, same-size fitted’s can wear completely different. This complicates the purchase of original caps since they are often distributed online through boutique shops.
In my case, my general cap size runs 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, with the lower end running a tad tight and the higher end running a bit loose. In my preference, I prefer to go a bit bigger and shrink down as I find the hat keeps better shape on my head. That being said, this still isn’t a guarantee since my most recent 7 1/4 purchase actually wears tight. Complicated, I know.
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to stretch a fitted hat. I’ll share some of the common ones floating around the internet, along with my favorite below.
I will note however, that I’ve only tested these methods on wool and polyester hats.
1. Wear the hat
Sometimes the simplest solution is to simply wear the hat for a few hours. The heat and pressure from your head can help to gently stretch the material and mold it to your head. Boring, I know.
2. Steam method
A popular method, but a bit too much work for me. The idea is to fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Hold the hat over the steam, making sure not to let it touch the water, for about 2-3 minutes.
The heat and moisture will soften the fibers and stretch the material. This method is said to work well with straw, cotton, and wool.
3. Spray and stretch
Fill a spray bottle with warm water and spray inside and outside the hat, avoiding the brim. Put emphasis on the inner band. Once the hat is wet enough (not dripping), use a hairdryer on its highest setting and blow the hat until it is mostly dry.
Place the hat on and let it air dry. If you find it still a bit tight, you can run another pass of spray and stretch until you get the desired result.
While I find this method does work well, there are limitations to how much stretch you’ll get. If the hat is very tight to begin with, I’d reserve this method for a last pass attempt after the method below.
Winner: Hat stretcher w/ water
Here’s my winner. After trying multiple methods, this one seems to hold the best over time. The issue with stretching in general is over time the fibres of the hat start contracting and you end up where you started. This method has given me the most success, although it may take 2-3 attempts to get the right fit since there will be minor shrinking that occurs after each stretch.
- Run the cap under warm water, but avoid touching the brim. Focus specifically on the band that runs across the base of the hat.
- Place the hat stretcher inside the hat and expand it to your size. Given these don’t have markers, you may have to try several times to get the right size.
- Leave it for several hours. I simply leave it until the hat dries.
- Repeat this process as necessary until you achieve the desired fit.
In conclusion, there are several ways to stretch a fitted hat, and the method you choose will depend on the materials and construction of your hat. Try out these tips and tricks to find the best solution for your needs and get the perfect fit. Remember to be patient and gentle, as over-stretching can damage the material and ruin the shape of the hat. Goodluck!
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