Friday, May 6, 2016

Sensible Fashion for the Upstate Male: Waxed Fabric Hat (Non-Food Post)

As it has been raining nonstop I thought I'd take a brake from the hack food posts and share a "lifestyle tip by Dave" to help keep the rain off your noggin.

Ever hear of waxed cotton? If you don't know, waxed cotton is produced by applying "fabric wax" to material. It is a historical method of effectively waterproofing all sorts of things. Tents, bags, coats (I've been eyeing a waxed cotton Barbour field coat for ages),  hats...

Fabric wax is very useful stuff.

I make my own.

It's fairly easy to do. The recipe is simply -- 1 part beeswax, 1 part paraffin wax, and 1/10th part orange oil. I don't think the orange oil is necessary but I've read it makes the fabric wax easier to spread (I like the smell). You heat up the mixture in a double boiler and then pour into molds. I use a silicon tray meant for oversized ice cubes.

Anyhow, I've had this hat lying around for years. It's a canvass "field hat" (sort of like an Akubra maybe?). I've never really worn it much because I look sort of ridiculous in it. But as I have just turned 36 I've decided I'm now allowed to dress as ridiculously as I want. I thought waxing this hat would make it perfect for soggy dog walks, rainy day hiking, and whatever else I get up to out in the wet.

Using the fabric wax is pretty easy. You just rub it on as evenly as possible. Here is the first coat.

Now, a trick I use for small items like this hat is to throw it in a pillow case and run in the dryer for about 10 minutes. The canvass will soak up a lot of wax so you have to repeat this process something like 3 to 5 times.

Here is the hat after three applications. The fabric has gotten darker, stiffer, and acquired a faint waxy sheen.

The hat is now fairly waterproof. I am attempting to show how water beads up on it in the next photo, but I guess it didn't turn out so well...

Waxed cotton is great stuff. With use/abuse it crinkles and lines and starts to look more interesting the more you wear it. I love things that become more beautiful the more they are used/cared for. When enough of the wax has worn off, reapply and your item is reinvigorated.

So there you have it. In light of our godforsaken Upstate New York weather, methods of keeping the cold and damp out are essential. Fabric wax is one of those historical products that has stood the test of time. All of my Upstate American countrymen should keep a hunk of this stuff in their toolboxes in case the need to waterproof something in a jiffy comes up...

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