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How to Wet Felt a Hat on a Multi-Way Bell Hat Shaper

Updated on June 7, 2017
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is — unique, experimental and always interesting.

Wet Felted Hat

Wet Felted Hat
Wet Felted Hat | Source

Wet Felted Hat Close-Up

Jacob Wool Felt Hat
Jacob Wool Felt Hat | Source

The 'Classic' Drum Carder

My 'Classic Drum Carder.
My 'Classic Drum Carder. | Source

Carding the Right Way

Jacobs Wool and the 'Classic Drum Carder'

The Jacobs wool batts in this tutorial were made on a Classic Drum Carder. I am delighted with my purchase from Classic Carders. My experience of using this carder has thus far been overwhelmingly positive. It is a joy to use.

Over the coming months, I will be washing and processing raw wool purchased from various breeds of sheep for future tutorials. This is the first in a series of wet felting tutorials where I will be using wool processed from Jacobs sheep.

Classic Carders are made in Shropshire, England. Not only are they beautifully designed but they are affordable and made by a craftsman in solid wood. They can even be customised to suit the needs of the customer. The carders also feature adjustable drums which come in a choice of three different grades of cloth. The design allows one to use interchangeable drums with different grades of carding cloth for different fibres.

Features

  • Suitable for use with all wool fibres, alpaca and angora
  • Available in ash and oak
  • Made from sustainably sourced woods
  • Come in a choice of three grades of card cloth (48tpi, 72tpi and 120tpi), two pin lengths and two cloth colours (red and pale blue)
  • Folding handle for easy storage
  • Come fully assembled with a doffer, table clamps and full instructions
  • Adjustable and interchangeable drum system
  • Come with a two-year guarantee with after-sales service for the life of the carder.

Things Needed

  • 2 Washed and carded wool Batts (Jacobs Washed Fleece or similar)
  • Small quantity washed Teesdale wool curls and hand carded Teesdale wool (for the flowers)
  • 1 Hat template cut from thick plastic or bubble wrap
  • Hot soapy water (dish washing liquid or grated olive oil soap)
  • 1 Plastic Multi-Way Bell Hat Shaper
  • A tumble dryer
  • 1 Heavy duty bamboo blind
  • 1 Towel for mopping up surplus water
  • Vinegar diluted for the final rinse

Multi-Way Bell Plastic Hat Shaper

Miulti-Way Bell Plastic Hat Shaper
Miulti-Way Bell Plastic Hat Shaper | Source

Multi-Way Bell Plastic Hat Shaper

Source

Washed and Carded Jacobs Fleece Wool Batt and Teesdale Curls

Jacobs fleece wool Batt and Teesdale curls
Jacobs fleece wool Batt and Teesdale curls | Source

Instructions

Step 1—Cut out the Template

  • Draw a template on a thick sheet of plastic packaging and cut it out.
  • I used Pickford International, recycled packaging material. Bubble wrap or floor underlay will work equally well.

Hat Template

Plastic hat template made from Pickfords plastic packaging.
Plastic hat template made from Pickfords plastic packaging. | Source

Step 2—Place 1 Wool Batt down onto the Template

  • Cover the template using 1 of the wool Batts.
  • The wool should overlap the edges slightly.
  • If the Batt is very thick, split it in half first and use the second half to cover the other side of the template.

Detail of 1 of the Jacobs Wool Batts

Close-up of a carded wool Batt
Close-up of a carded wool Batt | Source

Step 3—Cover the Fibres with Curtain Netting

  • Cover the laid out fibres with a piece of curtain netting.
  • Wet the wool using hot soapy water.
  • Add hot or warm soapy water to the surface and press the water down and out towards the edges of the template.

Wetting the Fibres with Hot Soapy Water

Wet the wool with hot soapy water
Wet the wool with hot soapy water | Source

Step 4—Rub the Covered Fibres with Hot Soapy Water

  • Rub and smooth down the fibres up and until the edge of the template.

The Curtain Net Wet Covered Fibres

Wet the covered fibres with hot soapy water
Wet the covered fibres with hot soapy water | Source

Step 5—Carefully Remove the Curtain Netting

  • Gently remove the curtain netting, making sure not to disturb the fibres below.

Removing the Curtain Netting

The Wet Fibres

The wet smooth fibres
The wet smooth fibres | Source

Step 6—Turn the Template Over

  • Carefully turn the wet wool covered template over onto the opposite side.

The Template Turned Over

The template turned over
The template turned over | Source

Step 7—Fold in the Loose Fibres

  • Fold the loose fibres over the edges of the template.
  • If required, add a little soapy water to help smooth them down.

Turn over the Loose Fibres

Turning over the loose fibres
Turning over the loose fibres | Source

Step 8—Cover the 2nd Side

  • Cover the 2nd side of the template with wool from the second piece of wool Batt.
  • If the folded edges are thick, add the Jacobs wool only to those parts of the template which are not already covered.
  • Maintain an even layer throughout the project.

Covering the 2nd Side Using the Jacobs Wool

Cover the 2nd side using the Jacobs Wool from either the split Batt or one the same thickness as the first one.
Cover the 2nd side using the Jacobs Wool from either the split Batt or one the same thickness as the first one. | Source

Step 9—Cover the Fibres and Wet the Wool Below

  • Cover the template with the curtain netting.
  • Wet the surface with hot or warm soapy water.

Step 10—Rub the Wet Fibres Gently

  • Press down on the fibres and smooth out the wet wool until you reach the edge of the plastic template.

Smooth Out the Wet Fibres

The covered fibres ready to be smoothed out with hot soapy water
The covered fibres ready to be smoothed out with hot soapy water | Source

Step 11—Turn the Template Over

  • Fold over any loose fibres which have overlapped the edges of the template.
  • Smooth out with additional hot soapy water.

Step 12—Place the Project onto the Bamboo Blind

  • Put the project onto the bamboo blind.

The Project Ready to Roll

Roll the project inside the bamboo blind
Roll the project inside the bamboo blind | Source

Step 13—Roll the Project

  • Roll the project well inside the bamboo mat
  • Do this gently at first and then and then roll harder as the wool below begins to felt together.

The Project Inside the Bamboo Blind

Roll the project inside the bamboo blind.
Roll the project inside the bamboo blind. | Source

Step 14—Change the Direction of the Roll

  • Keep changing the direction in which you roll the project.

Turn the Project

Change the direction in which the project is rolled for successful felting.
Change the direction in which the project is rolled for successful felting. | Source

Step 15—Changing the Direction of the Roll

  • Keep on turning the project inside the bamboo blind.
  • Roll until the plastic template begins to show signs of buckling.

Turning the Project on the Diagonal

Turning the project
Turning the project | Source

Step —16 Cut the Project Open

  • Do a Pinch Test and when the fibres are sufficiently stable, cut the bottom edge of the project open and remove the template.

The Cut Edge

Cut open the project and remove the template.
Cut open the project and remove the template. | Source

Please Note!

Alternatively, you may wish to leave the template inside and only remove it when more shrinkage has taken place. In some cases, this is a better option, especially when the wool felts very easily. You don't want to allow the two sides to become attached to one another during the felting process!

In this case, the Jacob Wool is slow to felt and it will take longer to shrink the fibres.

If you don't have a tumble dryer, roll for a longer period inside the bamboo mat and then remove the template.

Step 17—Remove the Template

  • Remove the plastic template from inside the cavity of the project.

TheTemplate Removed

The template removed
The template removed | Source

Step 18—Put the Project Into a Tumble Dryer

  • To save time and a lot of effort, put the whole project minus the template into a hot tumble dryer.
  • Allow the project to shrink
  • The length of time which it will take for the project to shrink will depend very much on the type of wool used.
  • The Jacob wool took longer than any previous wool I have used before.
  • Merino wool will felt very quickly. Watch it carefully. Keep on checking the contents of the dryer.

The Shrinkage Which Took Place!

The shrinkage which took place inside the tumble dryer, measured against the plastic template.
The shrinkage which took place inside the tumble dryer, measured against the plastic template. | Source

Step 19—Put the Project onto the Hat Shaper

  • Put the shrunken project onto the Hat Shaper.
  • Put into the kitchen sink and begin applying hot soapy water.
  • Rub with a piece of bubble wrap until the hat moulds to the shape of the Hat Shaper.
  • Rinse with hot and then cold water.
  • Do this several times and use a final rinse which has a little vinegar added to it.
  • Trim the edge and allow to dry.
  • Use the trimmed edge to make a Hat Band.
  • Finally, follow my step by step tutorial for making the felt flowers.
  • Allow the Hat to Dry on the Shaper in a warm place.

Put the hat onto the Hat Shaper, rub with hot soapy water, rinse and trim the brim.
Put the hat onto the Hat Shaper, rub with hot soapy water, rinse and trim the brim. | Source

Hat Drying on the Hat Shaper

The completed hat drying on the Hat Shaper
The completed hat drying on the Hat Shaper | Source

Teesdale Wool Felt Flowers

Teesdale Felt Flowers
Teesdale Felt Flowers | Source

The Completed Hat

Wet Felted Hat
Wet Felted Hat | Source

The Completed Felt Hat

The completed felt hat
The completed felt hat | Source

Carding on a Drum Carder

Do you own a Drum Carder?

See results

3 D Flowers

© 2017 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 months ago from Norfolk

      Thank you so much:) So glad you liked this creation.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      This is a beautiful creation, and I admire how you totally own your niche with careful instructions and original designs. Awesome job!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 months ago from Norfolk

      You are very welcome Louise, so glad you found my tutorial helpful.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

      That was really interesting to read. I've never known how you make hats before. And your step-by-step guide is really helpful. Thankyou.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 7 months ago from Norfolk

      Yes, the additional felt at the bottom was used as a hat band. I like to use any excess felt at the bottom to make a matching hat band but you could felt a long flat piece using a piece of wool roving in any colour you prefer. These hat shapers come in many designs. This hat could have been left without the turned up brim. The final shape is for the hat maker to decide:) Felt can be shaped as desired and once left to dry it will stay like that. Equally, if at some time you feel like wearing a different shape hat, you could wet the hat and re-shape it on a different shaped hat shaper. I hope you enjoy making your hat.

    • profile image

      Linda Haugen 7 months ago

      Thank you for tutorial and for your doing it! I often look at those hat shapers and wonder what kind of hat they would form, some are obvious others not so much. I may have to try this one now that I know it's form..but I do have a question...after you put on shaper and you put on that "elastic"? band the rest is the brim? The part that extended past the brim was what you cut off to use for a band? Thank you....linda

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 8 months ago

      These hats are quite the style for cooler weather.

    • LiliMarlene profile image

      Elisabeth Meier 8 months ago

      I agree, cool project and good work! I love hats and this one is really beautiful.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 8 months ago from Norfolk

      MsDora thank you so much. Glad you like the hat, think it would look perfect on you:)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 8 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sally, I admire you even more using these techy tools. Honestly, a great looking hat.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 8 months ago from Norfolk

      Larry Rankin, thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 8 months ago from Oklahoma

      Cool project!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 9 months ago from Norfolk

      Never mind Billy, when you decide to add a couple of sheep to the urban farm you will come to realise that you have to use the wool sometime. I live in hope:)

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 9 months ago from Norfolk

      Hi Donna,

      Glad you enjoyed the Tutorial. I do agree that carding your own fibre can be a challenge but for me, it is a lot about cost saving and also getting up close and personal with the sheep who provide us with the fibre. I am coming to realise how important for us to source wool from farmers who treat their animals with the kindness and respect they deserve.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 9 months ago from Norfolk

      livetech

      Glad you found this tutorial informative:)

    • livetech profile image

      livetech 9 months ago from United Kingdom

      I've always wondered how these hats are made! Thank you so much for the guide.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was laughing while reading the title because I had no idea what it even meant. That's how uncrafty I am. Clueless. But as long as you know, and you obviously do, then it makes no difference what my level of confusion is. :) Have a brilliant Monday, my friend.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 9 months ago from USA

      Hi Sally - Love this step by step tutorial. Though I don't see myself carding my own fiber, the process seems like it could be very rhythmic and relaxing. Thanks for sharing this process with us!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 9 months ago from Norfolk

      Martie, don't delay! Once the felting bug bites you won't be able to stop:) It is a fascinating hobby which would probably lend itself well to folk in South Africa, especially if they own their own sheep!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 9 months ago from South Africa

      Sally, I was reading your hub about "twins" when this hub popped up on my screen. I find this felt-creations of yours totally fascinating. My fingers itch with eagerness to make this hat, and all the other items in your collection. Thanks for yet another free felt tutorial!