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How to Use a Resist Shape to Make a Wet-Felted Hat

Here is a completed wet-felted hat made using a resist template, complete with matching flowers.

Here is a completed wet-felted hat made using a resist template, complete with matching flowers.

Wet Felting With a Resist

Felting with a resist will produce a seamless hollow shape which can be used to make hats, decorative vessels, pods, pots, vases, cat caves, bird houses, bags, purses, mitts, booties and slippers. In this tutorial, we'll learn how to make a lovely brimmed hat.

Items Required to Make This Project

  • Merino wool roving in three complimentary colors
  • Olive oil soap or dishwashing liquid
  • Hot water and a squeeze bottle
  • Bubble wrap, floor underlay or a sheet of thick plastic
  • Pattern for making the resist template
  • Hat block or polystyrene head
  • A dessert bowl for tracing a circular pattern for the flowers
  • A polystyrene head or a hat block on which to mold the hat
  • Sushi mat for rolling the felt flowers in
  • Piece of curtain netting

Quick Overview of the Method

Trace the pattern out onto the sheet of thick plastic, floor underlay or bubble wrap as shown here. Remember that simple shapes usually work best. The pattern shown here includes about 30% for shrinkage, which occurs during the felting process.

  • Lay the template down onto a large piece of bubble wrap
  • Begin by laying down a layer of fibers onto the template
  • Cover with curtain netting
  • Dampen with hot soapy water and smooth
  • Press the water towards the edges of the pattern until the fibers are flattened down except for the fluffy edges.
  • Remove the curtain netting gently and turn the template over.
  • Turn in the loose fibers to give a neat edge.
  • Continue adding the next layer of fibers in the just same way
  • Cover with curtain netting
  • Wet with hot soapy water and press the water down and out towards the edges
  • Smooth out and rub the surface gently.
  • Remove the curtain netting and once again turn over the edges as shown to give a neat edge.
  • Repeat until you have completed three layers of wool, covering the template on both sides, as shown. Remember to place each layer at a 90-degree angle to the previous layer for the best results.
  • Once the template has been completely covered with three layers of fibers, cover it with bubble wrap and rub both sides until the fibers cannot be moved beneath your fingers.
  • Roll up the project in a piece of bubble wrap and then place the roll into a small towel, as shown. It makes it easier to roll the wet bubble wrap. Alternatively, the bubble-wrap roll can be tied up or sealed with elastic bands.
  • Begin rolling the project with long even strokes for a minute or two.
  • Turn the project inside the towel so that the rolling direction is changed each time, inside the bubble wrap and put the project into the small towel roll again.
  • Repeat this until it becomes clear that the wool has shrunk around the template
  • It is now time to remove the template from the wool-covered fibers
  • Using a large pair of scissors, cut into the bottom of the hat, as shown.
  • Remove the template.
  • Place the project into a bowl of very hot water for a minute and then plunge it into cold water.
  • Repeat this several times
  • Rinse until the water runs clear under hot and then cold running water
  • Now begin dropping the hat down onto a hard surface. I use a marble worktop to do this.
  • The fibers will begin to tighten and shrink under your fingers
  • Continue shrinking and shaping the hat as shown.
  • Hit the hat against the surface of the table. Pay special attention to the cut edge. The cut edges will tighten and no longer look freshly cut. In areas where you want the hat to tighten more, simply hit these against the table.
  • A hat block or polystyrene head can be used to mold the hat over.
  • Wet the hat in hot water, squeeze and shape over the hat form. Add folds or pleats, or keep on molding and shrinking the fibers if you would like to make a cloche hat. Turn over the edges if required, and then make a few simple flowers or a band for decoration as described at the bottom of this page.

To explore these steps in more detail, continue reading the photo tutorial below.

1. Make the Hat Template Pattern

1. Make the Hat Template Pattern

2. Cut the Resist Template From Thick Plastic Sheeting

2. Cut the Resist Template From Thick Plastic Sheeting

3. Gather Your Supplies

3. Gather Your Supplies

4. Add the First Layer of Wool Roving

4. Add the First Layer of Wool Roving

5. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

5. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

6. Smooth the Wool Fibers, Pressing the Water Down and Out Toward the Edges

6. Smooth the Wool Fibers, Pressing the Water Down and Out Toward the Edges

7. Remove the Curtain Netting

7. Remove the Curtain Netting

8. Turn the Resist Template Over

8. Turn the Resist Template Over

9. Fold the Merino Wool Fibers Over the Edges

9. Fold the Merino Wool Fibers Over the Edges

10. Cover the Second Side of the Resist Template With an Even Layer of Fibers

10. Cover the Second Side of the Resist Template With an Even Layer of Fibers

11. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

11. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

12. Smooth Down the Wet Merino Wool Fibers

12. Smooth Down the Wet Merino Wool Fibers

13. Remove the Curtain Netting

13. Remove the Curtain Netting

14. Turn the Project Over to the Other Side

14. Turn the Project Over to the Other Side

15. Neaten the Edges

15. Neaten the Edges

Both sides have now been covered in a single layer of merino wool fibers

Both sides have now been covered in a single layer of merino wool fibers

16. Cover Layer Two With Wool Fibers

16. Cover Layer Two With Wool Fibers

17. Cover With Curtain Netting

17. Cover With Curtain Netting

18. Wet With Hot Soapy Water

18. Wet With Hot Soapy Water

19. Smooth Out Towards the Edges

19. Smooth Out Towards the Edges

20. Remove the Curtain Netting

20. Remove the Curtain Netting

21. Turn Over

21. Turn Over

22. Neaten the Edges

22. Neaten the Edges

Turn the edges over and cover the second side of layer two with wool fibers.

Turn the edges over and cover the second side of layer two with wool fibers.

23. Cover the Second Side of Layer Two With Fibers

23. Cover the Second Side of Layer Two With Fibers

24. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

24. Cover With Curtain Netting and Wet With Hot Soapy Water

25. Smooth Down the Fibers

25. Smooth Down the Fibers

26. Remove the Curtain Netting

26. Remove the Curtain Netting

27. Neaten the Fibers

27. Neaten the Fibers

Here, layer 2 is completely covered with two layers of wool

Here, layer 2 is completely covered with two layers of wool

28. Add Layer Three

28. Add Layer Three

29. Add Hot Soapy Water

29. Add Hot Soapy Water

30. Smooth the Wet Fibers Down and Rub Gently

30. Smooth the Wet Fibers Down and Rub Gently

31. Remove the Curtain Netting

31. Remove the Curtain Netting

Here is layer three, where the first side has had the curtain netting removed.

Here is layer three, where the first side has had the curtain netting removed.

32. Neaten the Edges

32. Neaten the Edges

33. Add Layer Three to the Other Side

33. Add Layer Three to the Other Side

34. Wet With Hot Soapy Water

34. Wet With Hot Soapy Water

35. Cover With Curtain Netting

35. Cover With Curtain Netting

36. Remove the Curtain Netting

36. Remove the Curtain Netting

37. Neaten the Edges

37. Neaten the Edges

38. Place the Project on Bubble Wrap and Rub Well on Both Sides

38. Place the Project on Bubble Wrap and Rub Well on Both Sides

Perfom the Pinch Test

Perfom the Pinch Test

40. Cut the Bottom of the Project Open With Scissors

40. Cut the Bottom of the Project Open With Scissors

41. Remove the Template

41. Remove the Template

The template has now been removed.

The template has now been removed.

42. Place the Project in a Bowl of Hot Water

42. Place the Project in a Bowl of Hot Water

43. Move the Project to a Bowl of Cold Water

43. Move the Project to a Bowl of Cold Water

44. Rinse Until Water Runs Clear

44. Rinse Until Water Runs Clear

How to Complete the Hat

Put the whole project into very hot water and then cold water until the water runs clear. Squeeze out any excess water and hit the project hard against a hard surface until it shrinks to the desired shape and size.

Pour hot water over it, squeeze the water out and shape it over a hat block or polystyrene head.

Here is a wet felted hat with felted flowers.