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How to Wet-Felt a Double Brimmed Top Hat

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

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.

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 hat 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.

A vintage Moët and Chandon top hat ice bucket, upside-down.

A vintage Moët and Chandon top hat ice bucket, upside-down.

The underside of the ice bucket.

The underside of the ice bucket.

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 reused 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.

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.

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

The template covered with an even layer of Merino Wool Fibers.

The template covered with an even layer of Merino Wool Fibers.

4. Wet With Warm Soapy Water

  • Sprinkle the project using warm soapy water in a squeeze bottle.
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Weting the wool roving with warm soapy water.

Weting the wool roving with warm soapy water.

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.

Rubbing the surface of the Bubble Wrap

Rubbing the surface of the Bubble Wrap

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.

The flattened wet Merino wool below.

The flattened wet Merino wool below.

7. Turn the Template Over

  • Prepare to neaten the edges around the template.
Flip the Project over.

Flip the Project over.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The 1st layer is now complete on both sides.

The 1st layer is now complete on both sides.

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.

15. Wet the Wool

  • Sprinkle soapy water onto side 1 of Layer 2.
Wet with warm soapy water.

Wet with warm soapy water.

16. Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Sprinkle the bubble wrap with warm soapy water.
Wet the woolen fibers.

Wet the woolen fibers.

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.

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.

Side 1 or 2 Layers

Side 1 or 2 Layers

19. Turn the Project Over

  • Prepare to neaten the wool on the edges.
Flip the project over

Flip the project over

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

The neatened edges.

The neatened edges.

21. Cover the 2nd Side With Merino Wool

  • Sprinkle soapy water onto the fibers.
Sprinkle with hot soapy water.

Sprinkle with hot soapy water.

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.

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.

24. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently lift off the bubble wrap.
Gently remove the bubble wrap.

Gently remove the bubble wrap.

The flattened fibers

The flattened fibers

25. Turn the Project Over

  • Prepare to neaten the loose fibers on the edges.
how-to-wet-felt-a-double-brimmed-top-hat

26. Neaten the Edges

  • Neaten the edges using a little warm soapy water.
how-to-wet-felt-a-double-brimmed-top-hat

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

The Merino wool covered template, layer 3

The Merino wool covered template, layer 3

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.

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.

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.

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

The wet wool showing the embellishment.

The wet wool showing the embellishment.

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 uniform stripes.
Add a final layer of wool.

Add a final layer of wool.

Don't neaten the edges yet.

Don't neaten the edges yet.

33. Wet the Surface

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

Wet the surface.

34. Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with warm soapy water.
Cover with bubble wrap.

Cover with bubble wrap.

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.
Rub the wool like before but avoid the edges.

Rub the wool like before but avoid the edges.

36. Match the Stripes

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

Continue pencil roving stripes to match the other side.

37. Cover With Bubble Wrap

  • Wet the surface with warm soapy water.
Cover with bubble wrap.

Cover with bubble wrap.

Rubbing the surface of the wet bubble wrap.

Rubbing the surface of the wet bubble wrap.

38. Remove the Bubble Wrap

  • Gently remove the bubble wrap.
Remove the bubble wrap.

Remove the bubble wrap.

39. Three Layers Are Completed!

  • The three layers, including plus the embellishment, are not ready to be fulled.