Feltmaking takes many forms. It can be used to create wall hangings, clothing, soft furnishings and toys.
Feltmakers can make perfectly shaped and consistently sized hand-made felted hats from our robust plastic formers. The hats above were felted by Susan Litton and Monica Traub. Susan used a dark red wool top which had a hand-dyed silk hanky felted into it during the last stages of the feltmaking. Monica chose an undyed wool top and felted pinches of coloured tops and strands of hand spun Wensleydale yarn into the surface.
Hat Shapers are made from recycled automotive plastic and are lightweight, stackable, washable, and portable. They are perfect for shaping, blocking, drying and storing your felted hats. They will withstand wet, steam and heat hat felting. We keep a selection of Hat Shaper hat shapes in stock and can order in any shape or size from the extensive range on the Hat Shaper’s website, contact us to find out more.
(Above) Oval Dome, Fez, and Bell Cloche Hat Shapers
Here’s how to make a felt hat…
For a wide brimmed hat use about 125 – 150 gm (5-6 oz) of fine wool tops or carded batts shaped into a 70cm (26″) flat circle. A lustrous fine fibre with a good staple length, over 10cm (4″) is preferred to ensure that no thin areas occur and the felt forms quickly, such as Bluefaced Leicester, Icelandic or Gotland, but most feltable wool fibres can be used with care
Make up to four layers with wool batts, or tops placed in alternate directions. Alternating the direction helps prevent any thin spots and bias in the final shape. In the first stage of felting it helps to use netting top & bottom to keep the circular shape
You can use a bowl for the first felting. However, many people will find that their largest bowl isn’t large enough. They also normally have a lip, which interferes with developing the brim. Thoroughly wet the wool with hot soapy water, applied with a sponge and pressure, and take it to the soft felt stage. Then you can put the soft felt on the hat shaper or big round bowl and continue rubbing and pounding to get the basic bell shape.
Fold the felt shape in half, brim to brim and roll with a textured large roller on a bamboo mat, rolling from brim area to crown area. Next beat with a large wooden meat tenderizing mallet. Refold 90 degrees from last fold and repeat the beating, rolling and refolding until you are ready to make the final shape. Rinse well to remove all soap
Place the felt over the Hatshaper and apply steam with an iron and beat with small meat mallet and roll with small roller until firm, steaming often. Lightly press with iron. Let dry completely. Measure and trim the brim. Now you can remove the final hat from the Hatshaper.
For final decoration apply any brim edging, create and add the inner sweatband and decorate as desired. The felting needles may come in useful here
These notes were originally written by Wanda Tate, when she first started to learn feltmaking.