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How to Make a Wet Felted Bonnet for a Newborn Baby

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is — unique, experimental and always interesting.

Wet Felted Newborn Baby Bonnet

Wet Felted Newborn Baby Bonnet

Can you use commercial sewing patterns for felting?

I designed this tutorial to test the feasibility of making a newborn bonnet using a commercial sewing pattern. As someone who has spent many years constructing garments from sewing patterns, I understand that to make well-fitting garments or hats, you first need to start with a good basic pattern. Since wet felting is not an exact science, it can sometimes be very difficult to do this. The end result relies on having an accurate template, understanding how much shrinkage will affect the outcome, or having a mannequin or hat block which has a beautiful shape you can use to mold the item.

Too often, I see wet felted garments being made which do not fit well! The purist in me still wants to see wet felted garments being made without seams. This is yet another project which explores how commercial sewing patterns can be used in conjunction with felting.

Botany Lap Waste.

Botany Lap Waste.

What You'll Need

  • 100 grams Botany Lap Waste: This is available from World of World. It's usually a mix of fibers, most of which are merino wool roving with oddments that are great for embellishing the surface of any of your projects.
  • Simplicity bonnet pattern No. 2908: Cut out the paper pattern pieces for view E size L and put them underneath a piece of underfloor layment foam. This way, it can be easily traced and cut out to create a template.
  • Olive Oil Soap: You'll need this grated and diluted in hot water.
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Heavy-Duty Bamboo Window Blind
  • Old towel: This is to soak up any excess water.
  • A Small Doll, Ball or Balloon: You'll need one of these to shape the bonnet with a circumference of about 15 1/2 inches.
  • Warm, Soapy Water: You can use the olive oil soap for this. Simply grate it and dilute it with warm water.
  • Tumble Dryer: This is useful, but not essential.
  • Pair of sharp scissors
  • Needle and thread

1. Make the Template

Cut out the paper using Simplicity 2908 View E onto a piece of underfloor layment foam.

  • Use size L for a newborn infant. There is no need to include an allowance for shrinkage if you are making the bonnet for a newborn.

Cut out the individual template pieces.

  • You may exclude the ties if you would prefer to have two long, straight ties.
Botany Lap Waste covering the flower templates

Botany Lap Waste covering the flower templates

2. Make the Flowers

Cover the surface of the flower templates with two thin layers of wool. Add a little embellishment to the surface to create interest.

The covered leaves and 1 flower with the template uncovered for example.

The covered leaves and 1 flower with the template uncovered for example.

3. Make the Leaves

Cover the surface of the four leaves with two thin layers of green wool roving.

The wet petals and leaves.

The wet petals and leaves.

4. Wet the Surface of the Leaves and Flowers

Flatten the wet surface of the wool by pressing down on it with your fingers. Rub gently on the wool or, alternatively, cover it with bubble wrap and rub gently.

Wetting the covering to facilitate easier rubbing.  Bubble wrap may be used instead of foam.

Wetting the covering to facilitate easier rubbing. Bubble wrap may be used instead of foam.

5. Cover and Wet the Surface

If you don't want to use your fingers, you may use a piece of bubble wrap, curtain netting, or floor underlayment foam to help press the surface down. Wet and rub gently, but not enough to felt the fibers.

Trim the petals and leaves using a sharp pair of scissors.

Trim the petals and leaves using a sharp pair of scissors.

6. Neaten the Edges

Trim the flowers and the leaves using a pair of scissors.

Leaves with veins and flowers with trimmed edges.

Leaves with veins and flowers with trimmed edges.

7. Complete the Leaves

Add a few thin, twisted slithers of fiber to the surface of the leaves to create veins. Tuck the loose ends behind the flower or trim them down.

Hatband covered in a fine layer of lilac Merino wool roving

Hatband covered in a fine layer of lilac Merino wool roving

8. Make the Hat Band

Cover the hat band using two even layers of fiber as shown above. The layers should not be too thick.

Wetting the lilac hat band.

Wetting the lilac hat band.

9. Wet the Surface

Wet the surface of the band with hot, soapy water.

Neatening the edges of the hat band.

Neatening the edges of the hat band.

10. Smooth Down the Wet Surface

Neaten the edges by turning the fibers back over the top layer. Don't fold them around the template.

Another fine layer of Merino wool being added to the hat band

Another fine layer of Merino wool being added to the hat band

11. Complete the Second Layer

Lay a thin second layer over the first layer without encroaching on the edges. Keep the layers thin.

Hot soapy water being added to the second layer.

Hot soapy water being added to the second layer.

12. Wet the Second Layer of the Brim

Smooth the surface using hot soapy water, and set it aside.

Preparing to cover the hat brim with Merino wool roving.

Preparing to cover the hat brim with Merino wool roving.

13. Cover the Brim

Cover the brim with a contrasting color to complement the hat hand and flowers.

Wetting the surface with hot soapy water.

Wetting the surface with hot soapy water.

14. Wet the Hat Band

Wet the band with hot soapy water. The ends of the brim should have fiber overlapping the edges. These will be used to attach the bonnet ties to the hat at a later stage.

Wetting the 2ns layer with hot soapy water.

Wetting the 2ns layer with hot soapy water.

15. Add a Second Layer of Fiber

Add a second layer of fiber to the brim. The layers should be slightly thicker than those which are used to create the leaves, flowers, and hat band.

Rubbing the surface of the brim but avoiding the loose fibers on the inner and outer edges.

Rubbing the surface of the brim but avoiding the loose fibers on the inner and outer edges.

16. Complete the Hat Brim

Neaten the one curved edge of the hat brim. Rub it gently at first. Use your fingers or cover it with bubble wrap and rub well. Avoid touching the loose fibers on the sides and the inner edge. These loose fibers will be used to attach the brim and the back to one another.

Placement of the brim, flowers and lives on the brim.

Placement of the brim, flowers and lives on the brim.

17. Hat Band, Flowers, and Leaves

Place the bonnet right-side up on your surface. Center the hat band on the brim, and then add the flowers and leaves.

  • Handle the pieces gently, as they will still be delicate at this stage.
  • Don't put the flowers too close to the loose fibers at the sides.

Please Note

I decided to make two long ties rather than the wider one I drew from the Simplicity paper pattern.

2 Bonnet ties being prepared in the same manner as the other pieces.

2 Bonnet ties being prepared in the same manner as the other pieces.

18. Make the Hat Ties

Create two ties from wool roving as shown above. The length and width can be decided by your preference. You may even choose to trim and shorten them at a later stage!

Folding the bubble wrap to create a straight line on the bonnet ties.

Folding the bubble wrap to create a straight line on the bonnet ties.

19. Neaten the Edges

Use the sheet of bubble wrap to create a neat edge for the ties. Simply fold it over the wet wool and rub it gently to make a straight edge.

Attach the bonnet ties using the loose fibers at the sides of the hat and those on the ties.

Attach the bonnet ties using the loose fibers at the sides of the hat and those on the ties.

20. Loose Fibers!

Remember to keep some loose fibers on each end of the ties so you can use them to attach to the bonnet brim.

Covering the back of the hat with Merino wool roving and a few decorate fibers.

Covering the back of the hat with Merino wool roving and a few decorate fibers.

21. Make the Back Section of the Hat

Cover the back template with two layers of fiber. Add a few decorative fibers to the surface. This layer should match the thickness of the brim without the band and flowers.

Wetting the surface of the back of the hat.

Wetting the surface of the back of the hat.

22. Wet the Back

Wet the surface with hot soapy water.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

23. Rub the Center Area of the Template

Disregard the loose edges, as these will be trimmed off. Ensure that the two layers are even and without any thin spots.

Wetting the surface before rubbing.

Wetting the surface before rubbing.

24. Cover With Bubble wrap

Cover it with bubble wrap and wet the surface if you find it easier to flatten the fibers this way.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

25. Neaten the Base of the Back Piece

Turn up the bottom edge of the bonnet as shown above. Doing this will produce a nice neat edge at the nape of the neck.

The folded edge without the template.

The folded edge without the template.

26. Gently Remove the Template

Gently remove the template without disturbing the folded edge.

The template covering the hem of the bonnet.

The template covering the hem of the bonnet.

27. Put the Template Back

Place the template back onto the exact spot from which it was removed. The folded edge is now covered by the template instead of the template being between the fold.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

28. Trim the Back Section

Cut the loose fibers from the edges of the back section.

The brim sewn to the back piece with large stitches.

The brim sewn to the back piece with large stitches.

29. Tack the Brim to the Back

Starting at the lower ends of the bonnet, tack the front and back of the bonnet together and ease the brim around the top of the back piece.

  • The two pieces will still be quite fragile at this stage, so please handle them with care.

Turn the hat inside out very carefully. Put the bonnet onto a ball, balloon, or doll. Add a little hot soapy water to the 'seam' to smooth down the join and rub it until it's smooth. Leave the stitches in for now.

30. Neaten the Inside

Add a fine layer of wool to the inside of the hat. Check the inside of the bonnet for any thin spots and fill them with a little additional wool if necessary.

  • Keep in mind that the bonnet is for a newborn baby. We still want to maintain the strength of the fabric but keep it as thin as possible.
Wet the wool

Wet the wool

Wetting the loose fiber inside the bonnet.

Wetting the loose fiber inside the bonnet.

31. Smooth the Inside

Use hot, soapy water to the inside of the hat, paying special attention to the join in the seam line. Rub gently at first, and then add a little more pressure.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

32. Turn the Bonnet Right-Side Out

Rub the outside of the hat until all of the elements have fused together: the hat ties, the flowers, the leaves, and the seams.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

33. Felting the Bonnet Ties

Roll the ties inside the bamboo blind for quick results. Then, roll the bonnet in the bamboo blind, being careful to maintain its shape.

how-to-make-a-wet-felted-bonnet-for-a-newborn-baby-free-tutorial

34. Two Minutes in the Tumble Dryer

Wrap the bonnet and the ties into a small parcel using a little cling film to ensure that all the elements of the bonnet stay together. Tumble dry it for two minutes. Then, tumble it for another two minutes and remove the plastic. Rinse the bonnet under hot and then cold water, squeezing the bundle as you do so.

  • Drop the bonnet onto a firm surface a few times.
  • Squeeze out any excess water with a towel.
  • Shape the bonnet over a doll, balloonm or ball.
Side of the Bonnet

Side of the Bonnet

The front of the bonnet.

The front of the bonnet.

How to 'Make Wet Felted Baby Bonnet'

How to 'Make Wet Felted Baby Bonnet'

© 2018 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 05, 2018:

Thanks for taking the time to comment Larry, it is much appreciated:)

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on February 05, 2018:

Wonderful project.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 04, 2018:

Thank you so much, Heidi, glad you liked the colors and the end result.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 04, 2018:

Of course, the design is adorable! But I really like the colors you chose for this project. Beautiful!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 03, 2018:

Hi Devika,

You are very kind. I value your input. You are valued and appreciated. Thank you.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 03, 2018:

Sally this was creative and most interesting. You always share with in detail and with photos. I have a n idea of how to perform with success from you.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 01, 2018:

So do I Kari, I have tried very many crafts over the years and become proficient at quite a lot of them but this is one which has me completely hooked. I do hope you try wet felting one day in the future.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 01, 2018:

I find this technique so amazing. I will have to try wet felting when I have more time.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 01, 2018:

MsDora, always a pleasure to have you grace one of my pages. Thank you for taking the time to comment, you are valued and appreciated.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 01, 2018:

I always love your finished products and I admire your patience in making them and setting up your step by step tutorials. Beautiful baby bonnet!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 01, 2018:

Bo Green, thank you so much! Always great to have some feedback. Much Appreciated.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 31, 2018:

Yes, I would Donna and I did think of that. The hat is soft but there is always a chance that a little one might be allergic to wool. I think I am more likely to make a lining from silk and could add it to this Tutorial later. I appreciate the visit as always.

Donna Herron from USA on January 31, 2018:

This is adorable, Sally! Would you consider making a liner for this bonnet out of felt or fleece so it won't be itchy and more comfortable to wear? Thanks for this great tutorial!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 31, 2018:

I know, I was just thinking how nice that would be. You have a lovely day.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2018:

Not possible as they're in another continent away from you.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 31, 2018:

Mary, thank you. You will try it one day I am sure. Don't beat yourself up about it. I wish I could borrow the little one when he or she arrives. I could do with a beautiful little newborn model for my hub:)

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 31, 2018:

You are much too kind Billy. You are very much appreciated and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have a wonderful day too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 31, 2018:

Adorable!

I always enjoy your tutorials even though there is no chance of me ever using them. That's a testament to your writing skills and to you as a person.

Have a fabulous day!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2018:

Such a beautiful project to work on. I really wish I can get myself to do it. Maybe when I get home. It is just perfect for a niece who is giving birth to a baby girl.

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