Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.
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
- A quantity 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 does include for about 30% for shrinkage which takes place 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 below. Remember to place each layer at 90 degrees to the previous layer to 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 below.
- 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 if you would like pleats them 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.