Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental, and always interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 4: Cover the Curls
- Cover the template and the teeswater curls with an even layer of merino wool roving.
Step 5: Wet the Wool
- Sprinkle warm soapy water over the project.
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.
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.
Step 8: Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Gently lift the bubble wrap from the project, taking care not to displace the fibers.
Step 9: Turn the Project Over
- Don't turn in the loose wool around the edges yet!
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.
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.
Step 12: Cover the Curls
- Complete the 2nd side by covering the curls and the template with merino wool roving.
Step 13: Wet the Layer
- Sprinkle the layer with 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.
Step 15: Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Gently lift off bubble wrap after rubbing and smoothing the layers 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.
Step 17: Complete the Layer
- Complete sides 1 and 2 by neatening the edges as shown.
Step 18: Add a 2nd Layer
- Cover the 1st layer with another layer of merino wool roving.
Step 19: Wet the Fibers
- Wet with warm soapy water as before.
Step 20: Cover and Wet the Bubble Wrap
- Add a little soapy water to the surface of the bubble wrap and rub flat.
Step 21: Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Gently lift off the bubble wrap so as not to displace the wool below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 26: Wet the Surface
- Wet the surface of Layer 3 as with all previous layers.
Step 27: Cover With Bubble Wrap
- Wet the surface with warm soapy water and rub well.
Step 28: Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Gently lift off the bubble wrap.
Step 29: Neaten the Edges
- Fold over the edges, but keep the loose fibers of the tie and the pixie tail loose as shown.
Step 30: Side 2 of Layer 3, the Final Layer
- Add merino wool fibers and a decorative layer to match the previous layer.
Step 31: Cover With Bubble Wrap
- Wet the surface with soapy water.
- Rub flat, but avoid the pixie tail and tie areas.
Step 32: Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Lift off the bubble wrap and prepare to neaten the edges.
Step 33: Neaten the Edges
- Avoid the tie and tail area, and fold them over using a little soapy water.
Step 34: Cover With Bubble Wrap
- Wet and neaten off the edges, avoiding the loose fiber on the tail and ties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 40: Roll the Ties
- Roll the ties, but keep one end dry.
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.
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.
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.