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If you have enough obsessions, pass on this...(Hat Making)

PostPosted: Feb 01, 2005 9:06 pm
by Wanda
Making a fine wet felted hat from scratch - bet you didn’t know anyone did this anymore, did you? I got started because my husband has a serious hat fetish and good hats cost even more than great hosta (hehe). Saw two “New Yorkers” making felt hats on Martha Stewart one day...and figured if they could do it, so could I. But not those kind of “high fashion” (read really weird) hats. Although, their scarves are pretty cool! ( Started searching for info, found a lady less than an hour away that was just starting to produce heavy-duty plastic Hat Shapers. The old wooden ones are prohibitively expensive, where these are very reasonable and much sturdier. She gave me some to “test-drive” for her and they work like a charm! I asked her to create an “Amish style” for my husband, and she made one! I made my first hat on that one, in a dark charcoal Icelandic wool. Icelandic makes a good tight felt that will hold a wide brim without stiffening (lacquer). Its sort of picky, though. The one I am starting now will also be the Amish shape, but I am making it in lusciously soft jet black Merino wool. You can see pix of the first one at:

Click on “Amish Hat”, then click on the small thumbnail pix to see larger versions.

They are easy in that the process is simple...the hard part is the wear and tear on your arms! I just got out of physical therapy on Thursday and am hoping my elbow and neck/shoulder will be able to take the punishment!

You can see a video of the wet felt hat making process on the HatShaper website at:

Also can see all the different shaper styles. If you go to the bottom of the page and click on “Felting Instructions” you can see some basic directions I wrote.

I got my merino wool from Jill Gully at Outback Fibers. Her fibers and their colors are luscious! I got one lb. of jet black and a one lb. mixed bag in jeweltones. She even let me pick the exact colors I wanted in the mix. I got tones in the teal, plum, raspberry, green and blue families. It takes 6-7 ounces of wool to make a hat with a 4.25” brim. You can learn a lot more about felting at her website (and get sucked right into another obsession-hehe):

Felt can be made from many different wools (not all), but merino and Icelandic are the best for hats. You can even add silk, angora or many other fibers - in small amounts since they don’t have the scales that wool does to hold it together (sort of like velcro).

It really is a bit of work to get a fine, hard felt...but it sure does get rid of those “jiggley” bits under the upper arms. And your hands will never be cleaner. Some people even use palm sanders to speed up the process - it really works!

The finish work takes as long as the felting, and really makes a big difference in the final look. It took me days to hand sew the 1/4” black silk ribbon around the brim of the first hat.

Be careful though, this is a lot like sucks you in quick and hard. And before you know it, you have five 18 gal. storage containers and one underbed container full of all kinds of wool, fiber, and finishing supplies!!!


PostPosted: Feb 01, 2005 9:20 pm
by impatience
:o You are amazing!!

PostPosted: Feb 01, 2005 10:02 pm
by shadylanejewel
WoWzer Wanda :o

I watched the video/slideshow - clean hands for sure!!

My DH loves to wear the Indian Jones style hats. Maybe someday I'll give this a try - looks very :cool:

PostPosted: Feb 01, 2005 11:44 pm
by Wanda
Truly, anyone can do this! Well, if you have strong arms and a lot of patience (hehe). Did I mention its a good way to work off aggression? Especially if you use the ‘throwing’ method of fulling. Felting is making a tangle of fibers into a felt fabric, fulling is shrinking and tightening the fibers closer together. One method of fulling is to wad up the wet felt and throw it very hard onto the ground repeatedly. This forces the fibers closer together.

There are other forms of felting besides wet felting. Some folks use wool yarn to knit or crochet things oversized (to allow for shrinkage), then wet felt them when finished. Others do needle felting, often to make teddy bears, dolls, etc. You poke dry fibers with barbed needles to make it stick together. I haven’t tried either of those processes yet...can’t knit at all. I have tried...and tried, but it just ain’t happenin’!