How to Make Wet Felted Dreadlocks for a Chemo Hat
Side View Dreads Hat
Wet Felted Dreadlocks Hat
Rear view of the chemo dreads hat
More about this Project
This project can only be described as a labor of love. There is no doubt that it is a time-consuming one, but I promise your patience and creativity will be well rewarded.
It is my hope that many of these hats will grace the heads of children and adults throughout the world, especially those who have recently lost their hair due to cancer. This hat was designed to bring some fun into their lives.
For newborn photographers everywhere the hat will make a great prop. Adjust the size of the dreads and the thickness accordingly when contemplating making one for a newborn child.
It is my hope that those who follow this tutorial will be inspired to share their own thoughts as they follow through the process of making this hat for an adult or child who is undergoing chemotherapy.
Front view of the dreads hat
A bar of Olive Oil Soap
Items Required to Complete This Project:-
A QUANTITY PENCIL WOOL ROVING
The amount required will vary and depend on how many dreads you intend to make, also how long you want the dreads to be worn. Around 300 grams of wool pencil roving makes for a good starting point. Select colors according which the intended recipient will enjoy. Fun rainbow colors work well, as does brown or hite pencil roving which can be dyed after the dreads have been felted. Try using natural dyes such as tea or coffee for making brown dreads.
GRATED OLIVE OIL SOAP
Grated Olive oil soap should be dissolved and diluted in very hot water. Olive Oil Soap is kind to the hands and gentle on the wool. Alternatively, you may wish to use Dish Washing Liquid diluted in hot water if no olive oil soap is available to you.
A LARGE BAMBOO CURTAIN BLIND
A large recycled Bamboo curtain blind will provide a very good surface for rolling the dreads on. These can be used over and over again for a variety of other felting projects too. This is one of my favorite felting tools. However, an absorbent hand towel makes a good substitute should you not have one to hand. An absorbent cotton towel should be placed under the bamboo blind to absorb any excess soapy water.
A CROCHET BEANIE HAT WHICH HAS LARGE GAPS BETWEEN THE STITCHES
Make one similar to the one pictured shown below or purchase a ready-made hat from e-Bay or Amazon. Choose a Beenie which has a loose weave preferably hand crafted using thick wool and a double crochet stitch. It should have good size holes through which the dreads can be threaded. You may wish to use a recycled crochet hat crocheted in the size required for the intended recipient.
A STYROFOAM or POLYSTYRENE MANNEQUIN HEAD
Polystyrene Mannequin heads serve as a means to help you gauge the length of the required dreads needed, useful if you do not have a human the right size to measure them against. These come in a variety of sizes and can be used over and over again for a variety of felt making projects. These are useful for displaying hats or can also be used as Hat 'Shapers'. These can be purchased very reasonably from Amazon or E-Bay.
If you lost your hair, due to cancer treatment, would you consider wearing this Dreadlock hat.
A bundle of wool pencil roving
Close-up of a bundle of Wool Pencil Roving
Pull off 2 equal lengths of the Pencil Roving from the bundle
The length of the roving should be twice the length of 1 dreadlock as you will be making double ended dreads with this Tutorial.
You will need 2 lengths which are the same size and thickness to make one double ended dread. Please see images below.
Align the two pieces side by side to get the right thickness of one dread.
The completed dread which, when completed is folded and looped through the stitches of the beanie hat and the two pointed ends will be drawn through the loop and tightened up against the crochet stitches of the Beenie. Please see the images below.
2 Lengths of Pencil Roving aligned side by side before soaking
Getting the length right!
The length of the dreads is a matter of personal preference. Please see the images below. I sometimes fold the roving in unequal lengths when threading them through. I stagger the lengths of the dreads to give the head of hair a more realistic and natural line.
Place the alligned lengths of pencil roving into the hot soapy water
Soak in lengths in the bowl of hot soapy water
Submerge the 2 lengths into the hot soapy water
When submerging the fibers beneath the water, ensure that the pieces can be removed still aligned. The thickness of the double ended dread will be maintained if you do this. Once wet through, remove the fibers carefully from the hot water and slide your fingers down the full length of the fibers. The two lengths have become one. Let the excess soapy water fall back down into the bowl of water so that it can be used again.
Squeeze out the excess soapy water with your fingers..
The excess soapy water has now been squeezed from the roving.
Begin rolling the wet fibers beneath your fingers
Dunk the dread back into the soapy water.
Do this 3 times after the initial rolling. It helps to firm up the inner fibers inside the dread. They should feel firm when they are finished but as they dry they will soften and become light in weight.
Dunking the fibers back into the hot soapy water
Removing the dreads from the hot soapy water to roll again
Getting ready to roll
Save time by rolling a few dreads at a time
Save time by rolling the dreads a few at a time. Some people use the tumble dryer as an assistant but I prefer in this instant not to as they are likely to stick to one another if you are not careful.
Two or more Dreads can be rolled at a time.
A completed dread (still wet)
Rinse in diluted vinegar water.
Rinse well in hot and then cold water. Give a final rinse in diluted vinegar water and leave to dry before assembling the hat below.
Making or buying a Beenie or use a recycled Beenie!
To complete this project you will need a Beenie Cap which is the base for this chemo hat. If making, use double knit wool and a large crochet hook. Use a large stitch such as double crochet which will give you the right size gaps through which the dreads can be threaded.
Use a recycled hat if desired. Remember that not much of it will be seen beneath the dreads. A matching or contrasting color Beenie does. however work well. Getting the color right will only enhance the final look.
Crochet a Beenie Hat
Inserting the dreads into the crochet stitch gaps
Pulling the dreads through the crochet holes
The dreads pulled tight
Attaching the dreads to the Beenie
I found it easy to work the dreads into the hat when off the Mannequin head. However, I did frequently put it on the head to check my placement of the Dreads.
Placement of the Dreads is key to the success of this hat
Taking care of your dreads
Don't wash your dreads in a washing machine and don't use a tumble dryer as the dreads will attach themselves to one another.
They can either be removed from the hat and soaked and rinsed and then inserted back into the washed cap. They might need another quick roll before you put them back in order to maintain the look.
Beads, threads or feathers can be twisted or pulled onto the dreads for a more trendy look.
Remember that a smaller version can be used as a prop for a baby photo shoot.
Have fun creating your Dread hat and please share your thoughts on this hat.
© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen