How to Wet-Felt a Double Brimmed Top Hat

Updated on August 31, 2018
sallybea profile image

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

A Double Brimmed Wet-Felted Top Hat

A double brimmed wet-felted top hat made using a vintage Moët and Chandon top hat- shaped ice bucket.
A double brimmed wet-felted top hat made using a vintage Moët and Chandon top hat- shaped ice bucket. | Source

Vintage Moët & Chandon Top Hat Ice Bucket

A vintage Moët and Chandon top hat ice bucket provided the inspiration for this wet-felting tutorial. The ice bucket was purchased from a local car boot sale for £10, but yours could be bought from e-Bay for as little as £20. This is a far cheaper alternative to vintage millinery hat blocks, which can command high prices, often in the region of £150. Top hats blocks are rare and even more expensive.

Hat blocks come in various shapes and sizes but it is not often that one finds an ice bucket with a gorgeous shape that can be utilized in hat-making!

The double hat band, though not planned, simply evolved during the felt-making process. The end result surpassed all expectations.

Moët and Chandon Top Hat Ice Bucket

A vintage Moët and Chandon top hat ice bucket, upside-down.
A vintage Moët and Chandon top hat ice bucket, upside-down. | Source
The underside of the ice bucket.
The underside of the ice bucket. | Source

What You'll Need

  • Vintage top hat-shaped Moët and Chandon ice bucket.
  • Nuno felted hat band
  • Inner hatband made from an offcut of felt left over from a previous project
  • 250 grams Merino wool roving: In colors of your own choice
  • Pencil roving or silk embellishment for embellishment if desired.
  • A heavy-duty bamboo blind
  • An old towel
  • Warm, soapy water
  • Bubble wrap
  • A length of elastic or a heavy-duty elastic band
  • A sheet of foam underfloor layment on which the template can be drawn. Underfloor layment is the perfect choice for this template because it can be re-used many times over.
  • Scissors: Make sure you have a sharp pair!
  • Felt-tip pen: This is for drawing the template. Use a damp cloth to remove any traces of ink left behind from the felt tip pen so that it does not bleed into the wool.

A selection of complimentary Merino Wool Roving and Pencil Roving for Embellishment.
A selection of complimentary Merino Wool Roving and Pencil Roving for Embellishment. | Source

1. Draw the Template

  • Draw and cut out the Template as shown below onto a sheet of underfloor Layment using a felt-tip pen.
  • Use a damp cloth to remove any felt-tip markings on the template so that these do not bleed into the wool.

2. Prepare the 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

Hat Template made from underfloor Layment.
Hat Template made from underfloor Layment. | Source

3. Side 1 of Layer 1

  • Put down an even layer of Merino Wool fibers as shown on the template below.

Merino Wool being added to the Template
Merino Wool being added to the Template | Source
The template covered with an even layer of Merino Wool Fibers.
The template covered with an even layer of Merino Wool Fibers. | Source

4. Wet With Warm Soapy Water

  • Sprinkle the project using warm soapy water in a squeeze bottle.

Weting the wool roving with warm soapy water.
Weting the wool roving with warm soapy water. | Source

5. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface of the bubble wrap to facilitate easy movement of the fingers when rubbing the surface.

Wet the surface of the bubble wrap to facilitate easy rubbing.
Wet the surface of the bubble wrap to facilitate easy rubbing. | Source
Rubbing the surface of the Bubble Wrap
Rubbing the surface of the Bubble Wrap | Source

6. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift the bubble wrap from the wool without displacing the fibers below.

Removing the Bubble Wrap.
Removing the Bubble Wrap. | Source
The flattened wet Merino wool below.
The flattened wet Merino wool below. | Source

7. Turn the Template Over

  • Prepare to neaten the edges around the template.

Flip the Project over.
Flip the Project over. | Source

8. Neaten the Edges

  • Fold the loose fibers over the edges of the template.
  • Use your fingers and a little warm soapy water as needed.

Neatening the edges of the template.
Neatening the edges of the template. | Source

9. Side 2 of Layer 1

  • Cover the 2nd side with an even layer of Merino Wool Roving.

Covering the 2nd side of Layer 1 with Merino Wool Roving.
Covering the 2nd side of Layer 1 with Merino Wool Roving. | Source

10. Wet the Wool

  • Wet side 2 of Layer 1 with warm soapy water and cover the project with a sheet of bubble wrap.

Wet the roving with warm soapy water.
Wet the roving with warm soapy water. | Source

11. Wet the Bubble Wrap

  • Sprinkle warm soapy water onto the surface of the bubble wrap.

Cover with bubble wrap and wet with warm soapy water.
Cover with bubble wrap and wet with warm soapy water. | Source

12. Rub Well!

  • Rub well and remove the bubble wrap from the flattened wool.

Lifting the bubble wrap off the project.
Lifting the bubble wrap off the project. | Source

13. Turn the Project Over

  • Fold over any loose wool on the edges.
  • Use your fingers and a little soapy water.

Neatening the edges.
Neatening the edges. | Source
The 1st layer is now complete on both sides.
The 1st layer is now complete on both sides. | Source

14. Side 1 of Layer 2

  • Cover Layer 1 with a second layer of Merino Wool
  • Grey has been used here to help you differentiate the Layers from one another but you may use any color you prefer.

Cover the 1st Layer with an even Layer of Merino Wool Roving.
Cover the 1st Layer with an even Layer of Merino Wool Roving. | Source

15. Wet the Wool

  • Sprinkle soapy water onto side 1 of Layer 2.

Wet with warm soapy water.
Wet with warm soapy water. | Source

16. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Sprinkle the bubble wrap with warm soapy water.

Wet the Woolen Fibers.
Wet the Woolen Fibers. | Source

17. Rub Well!

  • Press down on the surface of the bubble wrap.
  • Force the water down and out towards the edges of the template.
  • Rub until the fibers have completely flattened.

Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap.
Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap. | Source

18. Gently Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Lift off the bubble wrap to reveal the flattened wet fibers.

Gently remove the bubble wrap.
Gently remove the bubble wrap. | Source
Side 1 or 2 Layers
Side 1 or 2 Layers | Source

19. Turn the Project Over

  • Prepare to neaten the wool on the edges.

Flip the project over
Flip the project over | Source

20. Neaten the Edges

  • Fold the loose fibers over the edges of the template.
  • Use your fingers and a little soapy water.

Neaten the edges
Neaten the edges | Source
The neatened edges.
The neatened edges. | Source

21. Cover the 2nd Side with Merino Wool

  • Sprinkle soapy water onto the fibers.

Sprinkle with hot soapy water.
Sprinkle with hot soapy water. | Source

22. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the bubble wrap with warm soapy water.

Wet the surface of the bubble wrap.
Wet the surface of the bubble wrap. | Source

23. Rub Well

  • Rub until the fibers become flat under the bubble wrap.

Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap.
Rubbing the wet surface of the bubble wrap. | Source

24. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift off the bubble wrap.

Gently remove the bubble wrap.
Gently remove the bubble wrap. | Source
The flattened fibers
The flattened fibers | Source

25. Turn the Project Over

  • Prepare to neaten the loose fibers on the edges.

26. Neaten the Edges

  • Neaten the edges using a little warm soapy water.

27. Side 1 of Layer 3

  • Cover the first side of layer 3 with an even layer of Merino fibers.

Cover layer 2 with a layer of Merino Wool Roving
Cover layer 2 with a layer of Merino Wool Roving | Source
The Merino Wool covered template, layer 3
The Merino Wool covered template, layer 3 | Source

28. Cover with Decorative Fibers (If Desired)

  • Use pencil roving to create the stripes on the hat.
  • Embellish the surface of the hat as desired or not at all depending on your preference.

Add some decorative fibers to the surface if required.
Add some decorative fibers to the surface if required. | Source

29. Wet with Soapy Water

  • Wet the stripes without displacing the straight lines.

Wet the fibers with warm soapy water.
Wet the fibers with warm soapy water. | Source

30. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface of the bubble wrap and rub as usual but avoid rubbing the pencil roving which extends beyond the edges.
  • This is so that these fibers can be turned over easily to the other side to create uniform stripes.

Cover with bubble wrap and wet with warm soapy water.
Cover with bubble wrap and wet with warm soapy water. | Source

31. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Lift off the bubble wrap gently so as not to displace the fibers.

Gently remove the bubble wrap
Gently remove the bubble wrap | Source
The wet wool showing the embellishment.
The wet wool showing the embellishment. | Source

32. Cover the 2nd Side with Wool Roving

  • Add a final layer of wool.
  • Don't neaten the edges yet, this is so that the pencil strips can be turned over the edges onto the 2nd side to create a uniform stripes.

Source

33. Wet the Surface

  • Wet the surface but avoid the loose fibers on the edge and pencil roving.

34. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with warm soapy water.

35. Avoid the Edges!

  • Rub the wool as before but avoid rubbing the edges.
  • Remove the bubble wrap and prepare to fold the pencil roving and the loose fibers onto the wet wool covered surface.

36. Match the Stripes

  • Continue the pencil roving stripes so that they match the other side.

37. Cover with Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with warm soapy water.

Rubbing the surface of the wet bubble wrap.
Rubbing the surface of the wet bubble wrap. | Source

38. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently remove the bubble wrap.

39, 3 Layers are Completed!

  • The 3 layers including plus the embellishment are not ready to be Fulled.

The project ready to be rolled inside a bamboo blind.
The project ready to be rolled inside a bamboo blind. | Source

40. Wet the Project

  • With the project placed on the Bamboo Blind wet the surface well.
  • There should be a towel placed under the bamboo blind to catch any soap and water.

41. Roll!

  • Roll the project about 100 times from all directions inside the bamboo blind.

42. Change the Direction!

  • Frequently change the direction in which you roll the project.
  • Roll about 100 times from all sides.
  • Changing the direction allows for even shrinkage from all sides of the project.
  • Roll until the sides of the template begin to curl up as can be seen below.

Changing the direction of the roll.
Changing the direction of the roll. | Source

43. Do a 'Pinch' Test

  • Pinch the fibers between your fingers to see if they move.
  • If they do, continue rubbing or rolling until they no longer move.

The Pinch Test - checking to see if if their is any movement left in the fibers.
The Pinch Test - checking to see if if their is any movement left in the fibers. | Source

44. Shrink the Fibers Further!

  • At this stage, I like to put the project into the tumble dryer to save time.
  • You can miss this stage out if you don't have one but I find that it speeds up the process.
  • Alternatively, you can remove the template and put the project first under very hot and then cold water.
  • Choose a method which suits you best.

45. Remove the Template

  • After shrinking the project remove the template.
  • Cut the bottom of the hat open using a sharp pair of scissors.

Removing the template from the Hat Cone.
Removing the template from the Hat Cone. | Source

46. Rinse!

  • Rinse the project under hot and then cold water until the soap runs clear and then shape the hat on the Moët and Chandon Top-Hat Ice-Bucket.

47. Shape the Hat

  • Insert the Moët and Chandon Top-Hat Ice-Bucket into the cavity of the hat cone.
  • Rub the outside of the 'hat block' using soapy water and a folded piece of bubble wrap, bubbles facing downwards.
  • The hat will soon start to take shape as you rub.

48. Shaping the Brim of the Hat

  • Wrap the excess felt right around the brim of the ice-bucket.
  • Shrink and shape using soapy water and bubble wrap.

Shaping the Brim.
Shaping the Brim. | Source

49. Shaping the Hat

  • Shrinking and Shaping the hat under hot and cold water.

Shaping and shrinking the brim using soap and hot and cold water rinses.
Shaping and shrinking the brim using soap and hot and cold water rinses. | Source
The hat brim completely wrapped around the ice bucket hat brim.
The hat brim completely wrapped around the ice bucket hat brim. | Source
Rubbing firmly with bubble wrap, bubble side down.
Rubbing firmly with bubble wrap, bubble side down. | Source

50. Give the Hat a Final Rinse

  • Rinse under hot and cold water until the water runs clear.

A final rinse under hot and cold water.
A final rinse under hot and cold water. | Source

51. Air Dry Outside

  • Put an elastic band around the bottom of the hat as shown and allow to the air dry a bit before trimming the bottom edge of the hat.

Sally Gulbrandsen
Sally Gulbrandsen | Source

52. Trim the Inner Brim

  • Trim any excess felt which extends into the hat.

Cut off any excess felt from the bottom of the hat, keep it aligned to the inner edge.
Cut off any excess felt from the bottom of the hat, keep it aligned to the inner edge. | Source

53. Carefully Remove the Ice Bucket

  • Carefully remove the Ice-Bucket taking care to retain as much of the shaping which has already taken place.
  • The brim can now be folded double, the bucket returned to the cavity and a final rub of the double brim can take place.
  • Cut a waste piece of felt left over from a previous project or use a purchased hat band to neaten off the inner edge.
  • Measure and cut the correct length, join and sew onto the hat band from the wrong side and then it over.
  • Rub well with bubble wrap to remove any sign of the stitches.


54. Make a Hat Band

  • Make a Hat Band which sets off the Top Hat off nicely.
  • I created a seamless Nuno Felted Band one which I felted in the tumble dryer.
  • Shrink the band until it fits perfectly around the hat.
  • To achieve the right size, start with a band which is about 40% larger than you require and shrink it until it fits nicely around the hat or alternatively you could shrink the band around the head of the person who will eventually wear the hat.
  • Doing it this way give you a little play should the hat be a little too large to begin with.

The Wet Felted Hat which was created using the  Moët and Chandon Top-Hat Ice-Bucket.
The Wet Felted Hat which was created using the Moët and Chandon Top-Hat Ice-Bucket. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Sally Gulbrandsen

    Comments

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      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        6 months ago from Norfolk

        Thank you Devika, your continued support is valued and very much appreciated. This hat was quickly adopted by its new owner. I confess to always feeling a little bereft when one of my projects finds a new home but thankfully I have the memories and also the photographs. However it is always an excuse for me to get creative again:)

      • profile image

        Devika Primic 

        6 months ago

        Hi Sally, such a beautiful hat! Your mind works wonders in a creative way and perfectly displayed.

      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        6 months ago from Norfolk

        Thank you Natalie, I am glad you like this Tutorial. I hope that you find the time to tackle a little felting sometime in the future.

      • Natalie Frank profile image

        Natalie Frank 

        6 months ago from Chicago, IL

        Wow! This is an incredibly detailed tutorial. The pictures really add to it. I still haven't attempted any type of wet felting yet but hope to do so sometime in the future. Thanks for another clear set of instructions to an amazing project.

      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        7 months ago from Norfolk

        It is always a pleasure for me to see your name appear in my mailbox. Thank you, Billy, for taking the time comment on this Tutorial.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        7 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Your talents on display for all to see...always a welcomed sight, my friend.

      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        7 months ago from Norfolk

        Glad you like it Mary and I am pleased that you found the pictures easy to follow.

        It is definitely a creative project for Winter.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        7 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        This looks amazing and the pictures make the procedure easy to follow. This would be a very creative project for the winter.

      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        7 months ago from Norfolk

        Thank you, Heidi. It is pretty neat, on a male or female. Glad you like it:)

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 

        7 months ago from Chicago Area

        Super cute, as always! Looks like it would be a neat thing for wearing around the holidays. Cheers!

      • sallybea profile imageAUTHOR

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        7 months ago from Norfolk

        Patty, that is a very sweet thing to say, thank you very much:)

      • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

        Patty Inglish MS 

        7 months ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

        I may never get a chance to make one of these, but that is a really grand-looking top hat! You are a felting genius.

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