June 29, 2013


'Ruby Begonia' ~ wet felted with
merino wool and silk

'Ruby Begonia' ` side view

When I was first learning to felt I used to think the shape of the pattern resist was the most important element in the final shaping of the hat.  What I have learned instead is that when making a cloche hat (one that fits snugly to the head), I can use the same basic shaped resist patten for any style. The end result comes from the actual felting process combined with stretching, fulling in at the bottom edge or the top of the brim, cutting, trimming, folding, pleating or the final coaxing out of a lovely brim.  It is an amazing procedure!  Having a hat block helps tremendously with the final shaping of the finished hat. 

So, after four or five hours of felting and hard work, just when you think everything is done, you must begin the most important part of completing the hat.  Shaping can take an hour or more and involves some experimenting and even some trial and error.  The end result is always worth the extra effort.  In felting, shaping is everything. 

'Lettuce Felt' ~ wet felted with
merino wool and silk (the bow is on
the hat stand, not on the hat!)

'Lettuce Felt' ~ back view

Of course different resist pattern shapes are used for other styles of hats such as berets or pointed pixie hats which can be shaped over other things like bowls, vases or plates.  'Eliza Doolittle' below was not shaping well until I wedged a dinner plate inside creating a flatish top and a pretty crease similar to a beret.  I'm not sure which was harder ... getting the plate in or out in one piece!

'Eliza Doolittle' ~ wet felted with merino wool

'Tangerine Skies' ~ wet and nuno felted
with merino wool

'Tangerine Skies' ~ back view

'Tangerine Skies' ~ surprise inside!

'Circus Cloche' ~ wet and nuno felted
with merino wool and chiffon

'Circus Cloche' ~ inside

Here is how I made the 'Circus Cloche' after laying out and wetting the fibres with warm, soapy water.  To see laying out of the fibres check out my previous post called "Felting Foxy Flapper Hats" (January 27, 2013).  Following the laying out and wetting of the fibres I roll the flat hat (over the resist pattern) between screens (or bubble wrap) around a pool noodle.  I check the process frequently by unrolling and smoothing the seams. The rolling continues until the hat is fulled enough to remove the resist pattern without the two sides felting together.

Now the throwing begins and continues until the hat is ready to be stretched over the wooden hat block.  This is when the fun and the real shaping begins.  The brim can be folded up or stretched out and pleats or folds can be added.  The edges are trimmed and re felted (or healed).  The hat, which is still soapy will allow itself to be pulled, pushed and manipulated into a shape that pleases.  Once it's perfect it comes off the hat block and is rinsed, first in warm water, then in vinegar and water and again in cool to cold water.  The cold water shocks the fibres so they tighten up and must be stretched again over the hat block into the final shape.  Occasionally this process requires gorilla force grip strength and I've noticed that with practice I'm getting much better at opening the pickle jar!  Once the hat is dry and off the block it remembers and holds it's lovely shape for good. 

How I made "Circus Cloche' after laying out
and wetting the fibres. The fulling starts with rolling

Opening the roll to check the felting

It starts out as a flat hat over a pattern
resist to stop the two sides from felting together

Smoothing the seams is important

Here is the big, soggy, soapy mess before the
final throwing and shaping take place

Have to make the flower too!

Once the hat is fulled to the right size
I shape and trim it over a wooden hat block
followed by rinsing and reshaping to dry

After the final shaping the hat dries on
a hat block and the flower in a bowl


  1. your hats are a-ma-zing! thank you for being so generous with your knowledge.... :)