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Schaefer Outfitter FAQ's

What’s the difference between the Original Fit and Classic Fit RanchHand Dungarees?

The Original feature a high rise fit, meaning they sit above the hips. Designed as a riding jean, the high rise can be more comfortable and holds a shirt tuck well. The thighs are a little more fitted than the Classics. The fit is between a Wrangler 13MWZ and 20X Relaxed according to our customers. The Classics feature a regular rise, meaning they sit naturally on the waist. The cut is more relaxed than Original in the seat and thigh. We’ve been told by customers the fit is similar to a Levi 527 and 550. Both style are boot cut.

Will the American Denim™ or Brushcloth® RanchHands Shrink?

No. This is the same fabric we have used in our outerwear since 1992. The same American Denim™ is used in our Legend Denim Jackets, Ranger Vests and Saddle Coats. The same can be said about our Brushcloth® which is featured in our Mesquite Outerwear and Vest Collection. Once the dungarees are produced, they are sent to the wash to eliminate any shrinkage in the garment.

Can I wash the wool products?

No. Our wool products must be dry cleaned. However due to the tightness of the weave of the melton wool, the fabric be wiped down very easily. Wool naturally wants to shrink and the man-made nylon lining does not.

How do I care for the RangeWax® shell products?

This product can not be machine washed, dry cleaned, starched or ironed due to the properties inherent within the fabric. Due to the wax all Rangewax® garments must must sponged down with cold water and then hang in a cool area to naturally hang dry. Areas of the garment which look to be drying can be reproofed using Schaefer RangeWax® Refinishing Ointment. Hand apply in light layers and then apply hair dryer heat to set it in. For those who prefer a patina or leathered look will not need use Refinishing Ointment.

Can I wash the Fenceline® Canvas products?

No. Fenceline® Canvas is manufactured specifically for Schaefer. It is an 11 oz. cotton canvas which is woven very tighly. The tightness of the weave is commonly known as army duck. The fabric does feature a DWR (Durable Water Resistent) finish, which is basically a heavy duty Scotchguard applied by machines after the dyeing process.

You do not offer my size, can you make a special size?

Unfortunately no. Our current production capacity does not allow us to take on custom orders. We do welcome input on missing size requests. Enough requests can encourage us to add a new size to styles within our range.

What is Fenceline® Canvas?

Fenceline® Canvas is manufactured specifically for Schaefer. It is an 11 oz. cotton canvas which is woven very tighly.
The tightness of the weave is commonly known as army duck. In addition, there is a medium hand finish applied to the fabric. This finish gives the garment body and a The fabric does feature a DWR (Durable Water Resistent) finish, which is basically a heavy duty Scotchguard applied by machines after the dyeing process.

What is Brushcloth®?

Schaefer Brushcloth® is specifically designed to handle harsh riding and hunting conditions. Designed in 2003, the heavyweight 15 oz canvas construction is basically thorn proof and lasts much longer than most fabrics on the market. This investment grade 100% cotton fabric is fully breathable, features a weatherproof finish and adapts to a wide array of products including lined and unlined jackets/coats to vests and dungarees.

What is RangeWax®?

Schaefer Rangewax® is specifically designed for inclement weather. Unlike common oilskins saturated with oil, much of the oil is taken out and replaced with wax. Water is unable to penetrate it and the noticeable oily feel and smell is displaced. RangeWax® products have been part of our weatherproof collection of garment since 1992.

What Makes Hat Quality?

All felt hats look similar at a quick glance, and a customer may wonder why one costs $50.00, another $100.00, $200 or more. The difference can be seen and felt once he get them in his hand, and it shows up even more after months of wearing. But the question remains; what make hat quality?
The major items of cost are the fur, the trimmings and highly important, the workmanship. Selection of the fur determines the tightness of the felt and the sheen and resilience of the finish. It comes in dozens of grades of rabbit, hare, nutria, beaver, etc., and may vary in price from $10 to $100 a pound. Each has its own property of felting, tightly or loosely, and the tighter the felt the more "live" and shape retaining the hat will be. Certain portions of the fur, the backs of land animals, the bellies of water animals, are superior in quality and command a higher price. There is also the cheaper "short stock" (reclaimed fur) and synthetic fiber which acts as a filler but does not tighten the felt. They all make hats, but with a difference in "feel" and in pride of appearance after a little wear.

Workmanship counts more than you think. The bodies may be rushed once through the shrinking rollers, or run through repeatedly with constant inspection. They may be "pounced" (shaved) once or several times. Some special textures require double the finishing time. The "felted edge" locks the brim shape forever, but it also involves an incredible amount of expert handwork.
Trimmings too, from cotton linings to the finest brial satin, from imitation leather to fine specially tanned roans; all determine cost and quality. A fine band costs more, and is worth it. A reeded leather helps cushion the head and resists perspiration stains, it also adds to the cost. These are visible qualities for the life of the hat.

In showing hats of different qualities, you’ll do you customer a favor by explaining these points.

Hat Size Goes With Shape Of Head For Style And Smile

Each head has its own size, each it own particular shape. A hat may fit property, but if its form, width, height and breadth do not harmonize with the shape of the customer’s skull and face, a discordant note seems to spoil the appearance of the wearer.
Head size is based upon the circumference of the head. If a string is placed around a head and it measures 21.875 inches and this circumference of the odd oval is made into a circle, the diameter of the circle would be 7 inches, the equivalent of a size 7. International hat sizes differ slightly. English sizes are based on a true diameter of a circle, while American sizes have a slight deviation. There is a 1/8 difference allowed in some hat charts.

How Are Hats Made?

The Felting Process

It is probable that most people think of felt as a kind of cloth, smoother and tougher than cotton or woolen fabric, but cloth nevertheless. The fact is that there is no likeness whatsoever in the principles of production between felted fabric and woven fabric.

Felt differs from every other fabric in that it is made of a myriad of short, single animal fibers which are interlocked by their natural tendency to “crawl” and twist when kneaded and manipulated in hot water and steam. Felt is the strongest fabric known because every fiber is interlocked in every direction with a number of other fibers. All other fabrics are made of fibers, which are first twisted into thread and then woven by hand or machine. As these threads are always woven either in right angle or parallel lines, the woven fabric may be torn apart along a straight line.

Felt can be made into the smoothest fabric known, once again because it is made of tiny single fibers interlocking in every direction rather than groups of twisted fibers woven in a straight line. Felt is the lightest fabric known in relation to its tensile strength, because a minimum of fibers are required to make the requisite toughness.

Felt is the most resilient of fabrics, for the same reason. Felt is more impervious to water than any other fabric because of the close interlocking of its fibers and because the animal fibers themselves do not soak up moisture.

Felt hats can be made either of fur felt (medium to high price) or wool felt (low price). Fur felt hats are chiefly made of rabbit fur. Some hare fur is used to make better hats, and is often mixed with rabbit fur to produce hats in various medium price grades. Beaver, the finest fur, and nutria is usually used in the best hats, and muskrat also supplies raw materials for hat making.

By using the word “fur”, it is meant the downy under-fur of these animals not the long, coarse hair that is commonly called fur. Only this under-fur has the barb-like projections on the surface of each fiber which will lock the fibers together to make strong felt.

The long hairs are pulled out or sheared off. The remaining under-fur is chemically treated to raise up the microscopic barbs for better felting.
Cut fur is considered as “long stock”, while recovered fur, such as from hat trimmings from roundings, is called “short stock”. Fur felt hats are superior in lightness of weight, mellowness to the touch, and ability to keep their shape and withstand weather and renovating.

A good fur blend is a proper combination of large and small fibers to produce the texture wanted. So much long stock is needed to give a good rate and quality of felting and so much short stock to fill the interstices, thus imparting smoothness and compactness. As many as eight different types of grades of fur may enter into a single fur mixture, depending on the price of the hat, the color to which it is to be dyed, etc… The bagged fur delivered to the manufacturer must under go several mixings and refining processes before it is ready to be formed into hat bodies. After mixing, the fur has assumed a mottled grayish color, and the original furs entering the mixture can be seen only with the greatest difficulty.

Mixed fur is then “blown” a process, which removes clotted fur, air and dirt. Fur coming out at the delivery end of this process resembles an endless sheet of gray absorbent cotton which to soft, light and downy.

There are two main steps in making fur into a hat. First, the fur is made into a large, loose cone, and then the cone is shrunk and shaped into a finished hat.

Forming the cone is really the key to felt hat making. It is done in a forming machine. Picture an upright, cylindrical compartment, and inside this compartment, on the floor, a copper cone about 3 feet high, pointing upward. This cone revolves slowly. It is perforated, and an exhaust fan beneath it suck the air, and the loose fur in the chamber down to the cone.

Fur for one hat is weighed out and drawn into the top of the forming chamber. Sucked downward by the exhaust fan, it settles on the revolving cone. The fibers are inter-tangled every which way, but only loosely, the fragile layer of fur could be brushed off with one’s finger. The operator carefully warps damp burlap cloths around the cone and then immerses it for a short time in a vat of hot water. That’s when the felting starts. The hot water shrinks the fibers just a little, but yet enough to knot them into a flimsy layer of felt. The layer of felt is stripped from the cone. It is several times the height of the finished hat, and so delicate that it must be handled with the utmost care. Now the shrinking is begun in earnest, until the body is felted down successively from it original huge dimensions to its final size.

The body is folded, dipped in hot water, and rolled with pressure. From time to time, it is open, examined, and if satisfactory, again folded, dipped, rolled and pressed. Under the action of the hot water and the manipulation, the fiber shrink, their projecting barbs locking together tighter and tighter until the cone is no bigger than the finished hat, it is so tightly felted that a strong man could not pull it apart.

This is hard and painstaking work, and must be done rapidly or else the bodies cool off and poor felt will result. Although machines play a part in this process, more in the lower and medium grade, than in the fine grades, much shrinking is done by hand, especially during the early stages when the cone is large and extremely delicate.

Machines that do the shrinking are “rollers”, like big wash wringers. The bodies are wrapped in cloths and passed through the rollers, over hot pouring water. Thus hand rolling is mechanically stimulated. A trained workman, however, must always be on hand to wrap the bodies expertly, inspect them frequently, and adjust the rollers. Even the forming machine requires a highly skilled operator to control the currents within the machine so that the fur is perfectly distributed on the cone.

Besides the barb or interlocking theory of felting, there are the intertwining and plastic theories. According to the intertwining theory, fibers are forced among each other due to the mechanical manipulation. The plastic theory holds that the fur becomes temporarily plastic at higher temperatures, and thus accounts for the well-known increased facility of felting in acid solutions and for the necessity of using hot water. Probably no one theory of felting accounts for all of the facts.

A rough shape is obtained by stretching the finished shape by blocking the crown and flanging the brim. Crown stretching is done on a machine which has a framer over which the cone is placed, and above this metal fingers. The fingers massage the tip of the cone, pressing the felt between the rib of the frame, thereby stretching it. The brim stretcher grips the brim with metal fingers and on the same principle. The hat is roughly blocked into shape by wetting it and pulling it over a wooden block. Blocking to final size is done with steam and iron. Wood used in the blocks come from the American poplar tree, which is better than other woods because it has no grain or hard or soft streaks in the better grades. Therefore, when felt is pressed on a poplar block, the shape of the wood texture does not show.

Blocking Hats

The original block is made by hand and the rest of the machines, which duplicate the original. The hat manufacturer must have not only a set of blocks for each style, but also a set of blocks for every head size in which the style is to be made. A large factory must have a number of sets of each poplar block so that more than one workman can assist in turning out orders. Setting the brim in the hat manufacturing process is called flanging. First the brim is ironed flat, and cut to a specific width. Then it is curled and laid on a wooden flange of the desired roll, iron again and finally dried and pressed, while still on the flange, with a sandbag such as you see in renovating shops.

From the time the body is formed it is blocked, the hat gets a lot of careful treatment besides the steps outlined here. It is dyed, a difficult technical job, usually carried out in an early stage of felting, the brim is impregnated with just the right degree of stiffening shellac to make if hold up, the entire hat is rubber with sandpaper many times, the number depending upon the smoothness sought.
Finally, the hat is trimmed the leather, lining and band sewed on, all of which must be done with care because the workmanship shows.

The Leather Maker’s Art

Skins for hat leather are divided into two classes, roans and skivers. The roan is the whole skin with none of the flesh side shaved off. The skiver is a skin that’s been split into two, with only the outer or grain side used for hat leathers. The other side, or flesh side, is generally made into chamois leather. Roans, with their mellow plumpness and tensile strength, go into better hats. Skivers are usually reserved for the medium to lower grades of headwear. They are also used where lightweight is a prime requirement. More than 25 distinct operations are required to transform the raw skin into the finished product. Quality can not be discerned entirely from appearance. The leather’s built-in goodness shows up later on, when it is on the head of the customer.

Cut By Hand

Since hat sweat shapes vary for different types of hats, cutting must be done by hand. First the cutter selects one of many steel-faced wood patterns along which the knife is to cut. With varying “scopes” (the curve from front to back) on different crown blocks, the cutter must use a great variety of wooden patterns on his job, so that he can cut leathers which will exactly fit the blocking of a particular style of hat. The finished sweat is sent to the hat manufacturer. There the two ends of the leather are sewn together and small bow attached by hand at the top of the joint. The sweat is then machine sewed into the hat. The bow adds a decorative touch to the inside of the hat, but also has a salesman the exact center of the hat, so that he has a mark to guide him in creasing the crown. Sometimes, for added appearance and comfort, the leather is reeded. A resilient synthetic thread (in the old days rattan reed was used) is encased in hatter’s glaze and, together with an oiled silk insert, is sewn to the leather at the base of the brim, which one’s forehead always touches.

A reeded leather hat is plumper looking and cushions the head better, the oil-silk underneath is added protection against perspiration staining the felt. Although reeding a leather adds to the cost, it is important to remember that the leather is the most important of hat trimmings, because it is the only part of the completed hat that touches the head. Unless the leather is soft, well fitted and absorbent, the wearer will fully enjoy his hat.

Appearance counts too. Most hat leathers are made from sheep and lamb skin. These skins are shipped to the U.S. from widely scattered lands, in addition to a sizeable domestic production. Sheep and lambskin are used for hat leathers because they have the requisite properties. They are open textured, and thus readily absorb perspiration. At the same time they are neither too soft nor too stiff nor too porous. While calfskin also makes fine hat leather, its high cost is a deterrent to widespread use in hats. Synthetic leather is frequently used in lower-priced hats. Thanks to modern improvements in synthetics they give the wearer quite a lot of the qualities of leather for the price. Gross grain ribbon or other fabric is sometimes used for hat sweats where extreme lightweight and roll ability are a factor.

The New Foam Sweats

A new principle of hat sweats has recently been introduced, consisting of a bond of plastic or rubber foam, with fabric facing laminated on the side next to the head. It provides a yielding cushioned fit, and in some degree takes care of slight variations in head size.
Now a further application of the idea has produced a revolutionary “stretch sweatband”, which not only stretches, as with goods cut on the bias, but elastically springs back to softly cling to the head for the life of the hat. It is done by use of new stretch fibers derived from the garments trades. In effect, it takes care of two sizes per hat, permitting smaller size range in retail stock. It also helps fit the troublesome between-size head, enables better fitting by the novice salesman, and keeps the hat from being blown off by the wind.

Hat Linings

A fine, lustrous lining tempts the customer to buy. The unlined hat has no mystery, it is fur inside and out, and the whole can be seen immediately. With a lining, all is not evident to the eye. And the purchaser gets a feeling of luxury and hidden value, as with a richly lined coat. From the dealers view point there is another advantage. A lining with the dealer’s trademark emblazoned on it, is an attention getting, inexpensive, and long lived method of advertising. Linings of good hats are made of fine satin.

Grease Prevention

Grease prevention tips are sometimes attached to the regular crown lining to protect it and the crown of the hat from hair oil and perspiration. Originally oiled silk was used exclusively, but cellophane, Pliofilm and transparent rayon have all be found suitable.

Lining Stay In

What makes the lining stay put? Since most linings even in the finest of hats are basted only at the bottom edge, this question is often asked. There is one principal answer. Linings are exactly tailored to fit the hats into which they are to be fit for. Skilled workers do the inserting. Careless or inept work can spoil the interior appearance of the hat. This also adds to cost.

Individual Linings

For the best grades of hats individual linings are made not only for each head size, but also for each crown height. For other hats one lining is sometimes used for two different crown heights, if these do not differ by more than ¼ of an inch. The sweatband conceals the slight variance. In a well done lining and hat assembly, the seam in the lining (if straight seam is used) should line up with the joint in the sweat and with the center of the dye in the tip

Brim Edging

The edging of a hat brim is handled in a number of ways. It may be left plain (or “raw edge”), be welted or be bound with ribbon. The folded edge is another type, which has come into use in recent years. This is created from a lightweight felt body with an oversized brim area, which is then doubled back and turned into the crown. Pressed and ironed, it forms a soft plump edge and a double brim which will hold any nonchalant tough, or snap the wearer puts into it.

The Bound Edge

Functionally, a binding exerts a tension on the brim, which helps the brim to hold its shape. It also helps to keep the brim edge even, without rippling or buckling. Decoratively, a bond brim serves to dress up the hat, influence its color effect, and suggest special, deluxe treatment. As in the case of the band, the color and width of the binding are an important part of a hat’s general effect. A wide binding will tend to make the brim look wider. In the matter of color, a light contrast binding on a dark hat will make the hat seem lighter. Likewise, a neutral binding on a bright hat will tone it down; while a lighter, brighter color binding on a neutral body will help to emphasize the color of the hat.

There are three general types of ribbon bindings on hats. The binding may be the same width on the top and bottom of the brim, or may be narrower either on the top or bottom. The hat manufacturer chooses according to the style effect he wished to create. It should be noted that an uneven binding adds to the cost of the hat by requiring two sewing operations. Several types of stitching are employed to attach the binding to the brim. One is the regular or through stitch which is visible on the outer side of the rolled brim. Then there is the purely ornamental stitch, such as the sale stitch, really an imitation hand stitch made by the sewing machine. Finally, there is the genuine hand sewed binding, a beautiful trim put on by the hands of specially trained workers. It is a tedious and painstaking job.

Like a ribbon binding, a welt edge on a hat brim gives firmness to the edge and helps it hold its shape better and longer. It also makes the edge thicker and better able to withstand the daily handling to which it is subject. Like a binding, it dresses up the hat and adds a note of distinction. Fundamentally, a welt edge is simply part of the brim turned on itself and so fixed as to stay in place. The turned back part may be on the underside of the brim, when it is termed an under welt.