How to Make a Wet-Felted Sunflower Hat for a Newborn Baby
Making 3D Felt
As a feltmaker, I am driven by the desire to create seamless objects which look good and fit beautifully.
The seamstress in me balks at the idea!
I have always relied on commercial sewing patterns and sewn seams to help me create that perfect fit! I do however recognize that somewhere between these two art forms lays a conflict which I am still coming to terms with.
The purist feltmaker in me is driven by the challenge which this art form demands which is to create a shape using only fiber, water, and friction.
This newborn sunflower that was designed to be worn for a photo shoot. The result is a cut 3D hat without seams. I hope you enjoy this tutorial!
What You'll Need
- Yellow Merino Wool Roving
- Silk Embellishment Fibers: You only need a small quantity to give a little sheen to the hat.
- Hot Soapy Water
- Bubble Wrap
- A Sheet of Foam Underfloor Layment: The rectangular pre-felt shape should measure about 22 x 8 inches. Once prepared the finished pre-felt should be cut into 2 long strips which go right around the bottom of the hat twice. These strips will become 2 of the 3 layers of petals.
- Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair!
- Felt-Tip Pen: This is for drawing the templates. It pays to wipe the color off afterward with a damp sponge once you have cut out the template. The ink can bleed into the wool if left on.
- Cling Wrap: You'll use this to separate the petal layers.
- Ball or Balloon: Choose whichever one is the right size to form the hat.
1. Make the Pre-Felt for the Petals
- On a 22"x8" piece of bubble wrap, put down two fine layers of yellow wool roving. Add a little embellishment to the top surface to give the finished Pre-felt a little shine.
- Sprinkle the fibers with hot soapy water and cover with bubble wrap.
- Wet the surface of the bubble wrap and rub carefully.
- Neaten the edges using the bubblewrap as shown below.
- Roll the flat sheet of Pre-felt inside a bamboo blind until the fibers have just fused together.
- Cut into 2 strips and set aside until the hat template has been covered in wool.
- The pre-felt can be used wet if handled with care.
- The wet pre-felt can easily be incorporated into the woolen fibers of the hat when wet.
Keep the Fibers of the Pre-Felt Thin and Even
The petals look better if they are not laid down too thick. Keep the layers thin, even, and delicate.
2. Draw and Cut Out the Hat Template
- Draw the hat template according to the measurements shown.
- Round the edges at the top to create the hat template.
3. Cover the Template With Yellow Merino Wool
- Add a little embellishment to the surface to create interest and a little shine.
- Cover the template with one layer of yellow wool roving.
- Wet with hot soapy water using a squeeze bottle.
4. Cover and Wet the Surface of the Bubble Wrap
- Wetting the surface of the bubble wrap helps you move your fingers easily over the surface.
5. Rub the Surface of the Bubble Wrap
- Rub the surface just enough to fuse the fiber below without felting them.
- If they are too felted together, the petals will not integrate into the hat.
6. Remove the Bubble Wrap
- Gently remove the bubble wrap and turn the project over.
7. Fold Over the Edges
Prepare to fold over loose fiber on the edges.
8. Neaten the Edges
Fold over the edges using a little soapy water.
9. Begin the Second Layer
Repeat as above. Cover both sides of the template with another layer of yellow wool as shown.
10. Complete the Steps for the Second Layer
The two layers have now been completed.
11. Cut off About 3.5" of Cling Film
- Place a section of cling film across the bottom of the wet wool covering the template.
- The cling film forms a partition between the layers to create the 3d petals.
- The pre-felt which is laid over the cling wrap should extend into the area. This allows the fibers to fuse together when it's made wet and rolled.
12. Cover the Cling Wrap With Pre-felt
- The pre-felt should extend beyond the top of the cling wrap.
- This is to allow the fibers to fuse to layer 1 and 2 on the hat.
- Smooth down using a little hot soapy water.
13.Turn the Template Over Carefully
- Try not to displace the piece of pre-felt covering the cling wrap.
- Make sure that you wrap the cling film wraps right around the hat template in a continuous circle so that the pre-felt forms a separate but continuous circle around the hat but extends beyond the top of the film.
- The part of the pre-felt which extends above the cling wrap should also be rubbed down gently using water if necessary before adding a second layer of wrap and pre-felt to the hat.
14. Add a Layer of Cling Film and Pre-Felt
Repeat by covering with a second layer of cling film and pre-felt.
15. Wet and Cover With Bubblewrap
Wet the surface of the bubble wrap and rub both sides of the project until the fibers below are fused but not felted.
16. Remove the Bubble Wrap
Gently lift the bubble wrap from the project and check it for stability.
17. Roll Inside a Bamboo Blind
Roll it gently inside a Bamboo Blind. Increase the pressure and keep changing the direction of the roll.
18. Put It in the Tumble Dryer for 10 Minutes
- Place the project in the tumble dryer for 10 minutes or roll until the fibers no longer move.
- Do a pinch test between your fingers to check for stability.
19. Cut the Bottom of the Hat
- Cut the bottom of the hat and remove the cling wrap.
- Massage the fibers under hot and cold running water.
- Hold the top of the hat and gently hit the petals against a hard surface such as a kitchen counter.
- The fibers will tighten and shrink.
20. Separate the Layers
- Measure the distance around the hat and mark out the petals.
- Make the cuts straight up and then shape the petals afterward by cutting inwards from the center of the piece as shown.
- The petals shown here were cut at 1 1/2 inches apart.
- Cut the first layer and then cut the second in-between the first cuts.
- Repeat with the last layer which is actually the piece at the bottom of the hat.
21. Cut the Layers
- Cut right up and until where the Pre-felt has attached itself to the body of the hat.
- Finally cut the last layer which is the bottom section of the hat.
22. Shape the Petals
Cut the petals to shape as shown and then put the hat into the tumble dryer for a few minutes to seal the cut edges.
23. Put the Hat Upside Down on the Ball
Shape the damp petals as desired, and leave it to dry on the ball.
24. Add an Elastic Band
You might like to put an elastic band around the hat and leave to dry on the ball.
25. The Completed Hat
The hat will dry in the shape which you curl the petals.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Your comments or suggestions for further tutorials are welcomed.
© 2018 Sally Gulbrandsen