Hat Line

December 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

And now, onto hats, which is really what I mean to write about last time.

See, I love hats, but I have a problem with them too. I have enormous dreadlocks, and consequently most hats don’t fit on my head. This is a constant source of disappointment to me.

I tried knitting hats once, and they all turned out funny shapes. Too big, too small, too short. And I find knitting frustrating, so I stopped and moved on.

Felt on the other hand, well. Felt is wonderful, and I have seen some fantastic examples of felt hats. So that is what I decided to do. Woolly Wild Things is expanding. I’m not just about small models of animal any more. I want to make art that people can wear!

And so I began, as always, with internet tutorials and a lot of experimentation.

My first hat I tried to make using a bowl as a mould. It was a complete disaster, and so embarrassing that I won’t even post a picture of it here (it was more like a floppy piece of bird nest than a hat)

undeterred, I tried again, with much more successWP_20141104_003

Sorry, bad selfie (ugh I hate that word) but you get the idea. This was made flat, with a resist, a piece of plastic with the wool wrapped around, which is felted and then cut open and opened out. difficult to explain in words. The felt dries in whatever shape you leave it in, and finishes up relatively solid.

The hat shrank a lot from the original pattern and as a result, it does not ft on my head (typical) but in every other way it was a success, and proved that I can do it, and its not that hard.

The next hat I tried, I took pictures of the process. I have been using mostly merino wool for this, but soon I will run out!

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So first, this is the resist. It’s a template of the hat, made out of thin packing foam, which the wool is then wrapped around. For my first hat I used a plastic bag as a resist, which mostly worked, but the edges ended up getting flattened out and producing a seam, so a thicker material is advisable.

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I then placed the resist on a sheet of bubble wrap on top of an old towel. I covered the resist on wool, first doing the edges with wool overlapping, then covering the rest with wool all running in one direction.

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The next step is to place netted fabric over the wool, soak it in soapy water, rub the surface with a bar of soap and then rub it all over with some bubble wrap.

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Then flip the resist over, fold the overlapping edges in, and repeat the previous step on the other side.

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For this hat, each side had 4 layers of wool, and for each layer the process is the same. I used cheaper undyed Shetland wool for the middle two layers as I am running out of merino.

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For the final layer, I added the colours I wanted the hat to be, the same on each side

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The next step is to role the whole thing in a towel, rotating it a few times and flipping it over as well.

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As it is rolled, the wool will begin to felt and the fabric will shrink. Once the wool began to feel felted, I cut open the base, pulled the resist out and rubbed the inside of the hat and edges with soapy hands, and then rolled it several more times in the towel, constantly rotating.

Then I opened it out and started pulling it into shape. I coated the surface in soap and then rubbed it all over with some bubble wrap. this stage makes the felt go even firmer.

By this point the hat had shrunk to about a third of the size, and was to small for me to wear

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When I finally felt it was ready, I rinsed it in a bowl of hot water and left it to dry in the shape I wanted it in.

Phew! A long process, quite exhausting, but I had so much fun. So much in fact, that the next day I made a new hat, which was actually big enough to fit me!

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Here are both my hats drying. I will post photos of me wearing the hat soon!

My instructions are not really meant as a tutorial, it is more me blabbering about what I do, so if you would like to have a go at making 3D wet felt I advise you look here http://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/how-to-make-a-seamless-wet-felted-purse.html This is a very comprehensive tutorial about how to make seamless felt bags, that translates well into hat making. For my second hat I used three layers of wool on each side instead of 4, and it worked just as well, but made a more floppy hat!

Expect more hats to come, very soon!

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