The wooden hat block
is a thing of the past!  




Hat Shapers
(unless otherwise marked)



Remember to use the link the Feltmakers List FAQ page
for more advice on how to best felt a hat.
Original Classic Dome.jpg (4172 bytes)
Click on the Original Classic Dome Hat Shaper  for quick link to Feltmakers List FAQ page.

There are so many many different ideas on what is the best way to felt.  The best thing to do is to take a wad of fiber, and mess with it.  Run it under hot water, add a drop of soap and roll it, flatten it, pound it, whatever, for about 10 minutes and see what happens.  You should end up with a hard little ball of felt.  Ta Da.....  that is how it happens.

Now, the artistic qualities are developed by skill, trial and error. 
The first set of directions are from Wanda Tate. She was one of my first customers and had never felted hats before.  The wonderful thing about Wanda is that she is determined. Nothing stands in this gals way.

She perfected her process as follows:

1. For a wide brim hat I use 6 oz. of Icelandic wool batts in 26" flat
circles with netting top & bottom, alternating fiber direction of each batt
(usually 4). This is because my largest bowl isn't large enough and has a
lip, which interferes with the initial felting. And its a lot easier to lay
out the wool flat and get even layers.

2. I thoroughly wet the wool with hot soapy water applied with a sponge and pressure, then take it to the soft felt stage (where it holds together nicely).

3. Then I put it on the big bowl and continue rubbing and pounding both sides to get the basic bell shape.

4. Take the wool off the bowl, then fold in half, brim to brim and roll with a textured large roller on a bamboo mat, always rolling from brim area to crown area.

5. Then beat with a large wooden meat tenderizing mallet from brim edge to crown top.

6. Wring hatband area repeatedly.

7. Refold 90 degrees from last fold. Repeat beating, rolling, refolding and wringing hatband area.

8. Turn hat inside out and repeat beating, rolling, refolding and wringing until ready to shape (when it reaches the pliable as clay stage).

9. Rinse well to remove all soap.

10. Place best side up over Hat Shaper, apply steam with iron and beat with mall meat mallet and roll with small roller until crown is firm, steaming often.

11. Take off Hat Shaper and steam, beat and roll the brim. I work the wide brim off the Hat Shaper so I don't get an indent from the edge of the Hat Shaper brim showing.

12. Once brim is firm and stiff, put back on Hat Shaper.

13. Lightly press with iron, paying special attention to the corner where
crown meets brim.Amish, Wanda.jpg (2065 bytes)

14. Let dry completely on Hat Shaper.

15. Measure and trim brim, then remove from Hat Shaper.

16. Apply any brim edging. Create and add inner sweatband. Decorate as desired.
 Wanda's Wide Brimmed Amish Dress Hat

The tools I use are:

Wooden ribbed curtain rod as roller,
cut into 3 pieces; long, med. & hat crown height (KMart $7).

Wooden meat tenderizing mallet.
The points sort of 'needle-felt' and push the wool layers closer together.

Various sizes of 'travel' toiletry bottles in ribbed plastic.
These I fill with hot water and roll with. They are just the right size for the inside
dent of the fedora crown and work great on curved areas,
as the plastic gives somewhat.

There are several other methods to consider as well. Mine is loosely, very loosely based on the idea taken from Anne Vickery's video on felting.   For me, making a hood first with a plastic template is easiest for most hats.  You basically use the above formula, but...   you make one side of fiber to felt first, then the other around the template, bell shaped,  then you felt to that shape and then blend the edges together.  
 Click on the animation and experience a huge How-To Slideshow


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