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How to Make a Wet-Felted Pixie Hat

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

A wet-felted pixie hat with dyed Teesdale curls added to the surface for texture.

A wet-felted pixie hat with dyed Teesdale curls added to the surface for texture.

About This Tutorial

Take time to prepare each element of this hippy festival pixie hat. Put aside a day when you will not have too many interruptions!

Expect the process to take you some time, but keep in mind that there is no hurry. This wet-felting tutorial can be broken up into manageable chunks. It can even be spread out over a few days if necessary!

If you need to leave the project for any length of time, simply cover it with bubble wrap to prevent any loose fibers from being displaced, or if it is wet but has dried out a little, simply wet it again with warm soapy water and continue from where you left off.

The decorative fold seen in the image can be created by putting down the Teeswater curls before the three layers of merino wool roving are added. This is because it is necessary to work in reverse order to have the curls lay on top of the wool when you make the folds on the back and neck of the hat.

The Teeswater curls can be substituted with silk fibers or even pieces of silk which can be cut from pure silk scarves. I suggest that you use cool or lukewarm soapy water for this project, especially if you are using silk scarves for embellishment, as the fibers will not migrate into the silk if the water is too hot.

What You'll Need

  • 250 grams merino wool roving: In colors of your own choice
  • Dyed teeswater curls, which will add texture to the hat.
  • Used silk scarves or pure silk fiber
  • A heavy-duty bamboo blind
  • Warm soapy water
  • Bubble wrap
  • A sheet of foam underfloor layment from which the template can be created. Underfloor layment is the perfect choice for this template because it can be reused many times over.
  • Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair!
  • Felt-tip pen: This is for drawing the template. Once the template has been drawn and cut out, you should use a damp cloth to remove any traces of ink which were left behind so that they do not bleed into the wool.
Wet felted pixie hat template layout.

Wet felted pixie hat template layout.

Step 1: Create the Template

  • Download the PDF pattern or create one of your own. Please do not sell or share the template without my express permission.
  • Print the pattern (borderless printing) so that the template prints at the correct size.
  • A 1-inch square is marked on each pattern piece.
  • When you print out your pattern pieces, ensure that it does measure 1 inch or reprint to scale, as perfect results cannot be guaranteed if the pattern is not the correct size.
  • Cut out the seven pattern pieces.
  • Assemble the pieces in their correct order as shown above and sellotape them together.
  • Place the paper template onto a piece of underfloor layment foam and draw around the outer edge of the template with a felt tip pen.
  • Carefully cut out the template using a sharp pair of scissors.
  • Use a damp cloth to remove any traces of felt tip pen markings to avoid having them bleed into the wool.
The prepared template cut from underfloor layment.

The prepared template cut from underfloor layment.

Step 2: Prepare Your Working Surface

  • Place an old towel down onto a waterproof surface.
  • Put a large heavy-duty bamboo blind down onto the towel.
  • Put the prepared template down onto the heavy-duty bamboo blind.
Dyed teeswater curls

Dyed teeswater curls

Step 3: Make the Hat

  • Begin by adding dyed teeswater curls to the template as shown below.
  • Only a thin layer of evenly spaced curls is required.
3/4 of the hat evenly spaced as shown using dyed teeswater curls

3/4 of the hat evenly spaced as shown using dyed teeswater curls

Step 4: Cover the Curls

  • Cover the template and the teeswater curls with an even layer of merino wool roving.
Cover the dyed teeswater curls with merino wool fibers.

Cover the dyed teeswater curls with merino wool fibers.

Step 5: Wet the Wool

  • Sprinkle warm soapy water over the project.
Wet the fibers with warm soapy water.

Wet the fibers with warm soapy water.

Step 6: Cover the Wet Fibers

  • Cover the project with a sheet of bubble wrap, bubble side facing down.
  • Wet the surface of the bubble wrap with warm soapy water.
Wetting the surface of the bubble wrap using warm soapy water which will help facilitate easy rubbing of the fingers on the surface.

Wetting the surface of the bubble wrap using warm soapy water which will help facilitate easy rubbing of the fingers on the surface.

Step 7: Flatten the Wet Merino Wool Fibers

  • Press down on the surface of the bubble wrap to force the water downwards and out towards the edges of the template.
  • Add a little soapy water to the surface of the bubble wrap.
  • Rub until the wool below becomes wet and flat.
Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap.

Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap.

Step 8: Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift the bubble wrap from the project, taking care not to displace the fibers.
Gently lifting the bubble wrap from the wet wool.

Gently lifting the bubble wrap from the wet wool.

Step 9: Turn the Project Over

  • Don't turn in the loose wool around the edges yet!
The project flipped over - side 2

The project flipped over - side 2

Step 10: Repeat the Curls on the Second Side

  • Make a mirror image of the previous side before turning in the wool on the edges.
Teeswater curls being added to side 2 of the template.

Teeswater curls being added to side 2 of the template.

Step 11: Neaten the Edges!

  • Fold in the loose fibers left over from the previous side before smoothing them down with a little warm soapy water as shown below.
The edges of the template turned over and smoothed down using a little  warm soapy water.

The edges of the template turned over and smoothed down using a little warm soapy water.

Step 12: Cover the Curls

  • Complete the 2nd side by covering the curls and the template with merino wool roving.
Side 2, the curls covered with a layer of merino wool.

Side 2, the curls covered with a layer of merino wool.

Step 13: Wet the Layer

  • Sprinkle the layer with warm soapy water.
Wetting the 2nd side using warm soapy water.

Wetting the 2nd side using warm soapy water.

Step 14: Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Cover with the sheet of bubble wrap, and sprinkle the surface with warm soapy water to facilitate easy movement of the fingers as you rub the surface.
  • Rub gently to flatten the fibers below.
Wetting the bubble wrap.

Wetting the bubble wrap.

Step 15: Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift off bubble wrap after rubbing and smoothing the layers below.
Removing the bubble wrap to expose the flat wet fibers below.

Removing the bubble wrap to expose the flat wet fibers below.

Step 16: Neaten the Edges

  • Neaten the edges of the template by turning the wet fibers over the edge of the template.
  • Use a little warm soapy water and your fingers where necessary.
Creating a neat finish by turning in any loose fibers.

Creating a neat finish by turning in any loose fibers.

Step 17: Complete the Layer

  • Complete sides 1 and 2 by neatening the edges as shown.
Folding over the edges and smoothing with warm soapy water.

Folding over the edges and smoothing with warm soapy water.

Step 18: Add a 2nd Layer

  • Cover the 1st layer with another layer of merino wool roving.
Layer 2 covering the 1st layer.

Layer 2 covering the 1st layer.

Step 19: Wet the Fibers

  • Wet with warm soapy water as before.
Wetting the wool

Wetting the wool

Step 20: Cover and Wet the Bubble Wrap

  • Add a little soapy water to the surface of the bubble wrap and rub flat.
Rubbing the wet surface.

Rubbing the wet surface.

Step 21: Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift off the bubble wrap so as not to displace the wool below.
Removing the bubble wrap.

Removing the bubble wrap.

Step 22: Avoid the Ear and Pixie Tail Areas!

  • Use a little warm soapy water on your fingers to help smooth out the edges, but avoid the ear and pixie tail areas at this stage.
Neatening the edges

Neatening the edges

Step 23: Neaten!

  • Neaten the whole of the hat, but avoid the area of the hat where the pixie tail and hat ties will be added. Please see pictures.
Turning the edges over but avoiding the hat tie area and the pixie tail.

Turning the edges over but avoiding the hat tie area and the pixie tail.

Step 24: Complete the 2nd Layer!

  • The second layer is now complete except for the tail and tie, which were left with loose fibers to all for easy joining of these sections once the final layer of fiber and embellishment have been added to the hat.
The neatened edges but leaving the fibers loose to allow for easy joining of the hat ties and adding the pixie hat tail.

The neatened edges but leaving the fibers loose to allow for easy joining of the hat ties and adding the pixie hat tail.

Step 25: The 3rd and Final Layer

  • For the final layer, add a layer of merino wool and decorative curls or embellishment according to your own preferences.
  • You may prefer to use just an even layer of merino wool fibers with no curls!
  • Or you could include a layer of curls and include silk fibers or pieces of silk scarves.
The final layer. Adding layers of merino wool and curls.

The final layer. Adding layers of merino wool and curls.

Step 26: Wet the Surface

  • Wet the surface of Layer 3 as with all previous layers.
Wetting the surface

Wetting the surface

Step 27: Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with warm soapy water and rub well.
Rubbing the surface of the bubble wrap.

Rubbing the surface of the bubble wrap.

Step 28: Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift off the bubble wrap.
Gently removing the bubble wrap from the 3rd layer.

Gently removing the bubble wrap from the 3rd layer.

Step 29: Neaten the Edges

  • Fold over the edges, but keep the loose fibers of the tie and the pixie tail loose as shown.
Layer 3, finishing off the edges but leaving the tail and ties free and loose..

Layer 3, finishing off the edges but leaving the tail and ties free and loose..

Step 30: Side 2 of Layer 3, the Final Layer

  • Add merino wool fibers and a decorative layer to match the previous layer.
Wetting the final layer.

Wetting the final layer.

Step 31: Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with soapy water.
  • Rub flat, but avoid the pixie tail and tie areas.
Rubbing the wet surface

Rubbing the wet surface

Step 32: Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Lift off the bubble wrap and prepare to neaten the edges.
The bubble wrap being removed from the final layer.

The bubble wrap being removed from the final layer.

Step 33: Neaten the Edges

  • Avoid the tie and tail area, and fold them over using a little soapy water.
Neatening the edges

Neatening the edges

Step 34: Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Wet and neaten off the edges, avoiding the loose fiber on the tail and ties.
Neatening the final layer.

Neatening the final layer.

Step 35: Prepare the Tail and the Ties

  • Split a length of wool roving to make two ties, and use a thicker piece to create a curly tail.
  • I suggest a finished length of approximately 12 inches (30cm) for the ties and 12 inches or (30cm) for the tail once the shrinkage has taken place.
  • Shrinkage is calculated to be in the region of 40%, so add it to your prepared lengths.
The pixie hat tail created from wool roving.

The pixie hat tail created from wool roving.

Step 36: Wet and Roll the Curly Tail

  • Roll on the bamboo blind, but leave the fibers on one end dry so that they can be easily attached to the hat.
Wetting the curly tail

Wetting the curly tail

Step 37: Attach the Tail

  • Attach the rolled tail to the top of the hat as shown by rubbing and rolling with the blind and also between your fingers.
Attaching the tail to the top of the hat.  Roll the whole area until it fiber blend completely into the hat.

Attaching the tail to the top of the hat. Roll the whole area until it fiber blend completely into the hat.

Step 38: Use the Bubble Wrap

  • Use the bubble wrap to assist with the felting process.
  • Rub from the top, but keep rubbing and shaping the sides until the fibers no longer move.
  • Remove the bubble wrap, and then shape and roll the tail by running your fingers up and down the tail.
Shaping the curly tail under the bubble wrap.

Shaping the curly tail under the bubble wrap.

Step 39: The Hat Ties

  • Use the split wool roving to create two ties.
  • Add a little embellishment if desired.
  • Wet with warm soapy water but leave two ends dry.
The split roving with a little embellishment - making 2 ties and being made wet with soapy water.

The split roving with a little embellishment - making 2 ties and being made wet with soapy water.

Step 40: Roll the Ties

  • Roll the ties, but keep one end dry.
1 rolled tie with 1 still waiting to be rolled.

1 rolled tie with 1 still waiting to be rolled.

The rolled ties waiting to be attached to the pixie hat. Note the loose ends.

The rolled ties waiting to be attached to the pixie hat. Note the loose ends.

Step 41: Cut Open the Bottom of the Hat

  • Cut the bottom edge of the hat where indicated in the image below.
  • Don't remove the template yet—it will help keep the two not fully felted pieces of the hat separate.
Cut the bottom of the hat as shown using a pair of sharp scissors.

Cut the bottom of the hat as shown using a pair of sharp scissors.

Step 42: Attach the Ties

  • Align the ties one by one onto the areas as shown below.
  • Don't remove the template yet—it will help to keep the pieces from fusing with one another.
  • Do keep the ties separate from one another by inserting a piece of bubble wrap between them to keep them apart and stop them felting to one another.
Attaching the ties to the bottom of the hat.

Attaching the ties to the bottom of the hat.

Keep the ties separate from one another by inserting a sheet of bubble wrap.  The template is still inside the hat.

Keep the ties separate from one another by inserting a sheet of bubble wrap. The template is still inside the hat.

Step 43: Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Attach one tie at a time. Rub, roll and shape using fingers, bamboo mat or bubble wrap.
  • When its properly fused, roll between your fingers to achieve the desired roundness needed.
Wet the surface of the bubble wrap and rub and shape.

Wet the surface of the bubble wrap and rub and shape.

The tie firmly attached to the hat.