Sunday, July 29, 2012

Felting a Hat

I tried to take a few pictures of one of my felting  projects so you would have some idea how it is done.  Here are basics of how I felt a hat out of carded fiber, this one in particular is a blend of suri alpaca and merino wool.
1.  First I lay down my bamboo beach matt, then I layer thin sheets of the batts from the wool, placing each layer in the different direction.  I will do at least 6 layers and try to keep them very thin.
2. Then I take hot water and dish soap and bring it to my table, I squirt dish soap in a circular fashion all over the fiber, then take the hot water and pour from center out.  Then I take a peice of tulle and lay over the fiber to keep in in place and a peice of bubble wrap and carefully pressing until I get all the wool wet.
 3.  Then I take the bubble wrap and place it over the entire wool service and use a peice of a pool noodle and roll it up.  Tie it off and roll several times.  I make sure the wool is very warm and may even pour more hot water over the roll to keep it warm.  I then unroll and pick up the layer of wool and lay in in the other direction to be rolled again.  I generally roll at least 30 times each direction and flipped over.  So minimunm of 120 rolls.
 Your felted sheet should look solid and no holes or loose fiber and your pinch test should not be able to pull the fiber away from the felt.  I would roll this peice below a few more times to make sure it is fulled.
 4. Now I take off the bubble wrap, actually I generally take it off once the fiber is holding as I think the bamboo helps to felt better.  Then I massage with more hot water and make sure there is still enough soap if not squirt a little more across the sheet.  Massage both sides until you feel that it is very well fulled and ready to shape.  (It does take some arm work and a good solid table as it can take quite a while)
 5.  Now I place the fiber sheet over my hat mold and add more hot water and continue to shape with bubble wrap.  I only work around the hat as it shrinks in the direction of your rubbing.  I want it to shrink around the hat shaper.

Well here is where I forgot to continue to take pictures as my hands were so soapy and wet and well I just downright forgot.  Sorry about that. With this particular hat I then dyed it purple in my large crock pot after it was shaped then reshaped it and finished with starch and finishing the edge. 

7.  Once it is snug to your shaper you can tie it off or use a large rubber band to hold it onto the shaper and rinse with cool water, when you think you finally have it rinsed then make a solution with a bit of vinegar in it and pour over and let it sit a few minutes then you may rinse again or just start towel drying.  Squeezing and trying not to disturb the fiber too much.  Now reshape the brim area and let it dry.  I like using a mix of 50/50 liquid starch and water and soak the hat but this can make it stick to the mold so putting saran wrap over the mold first can  help with this.  Let it dry, cut the brim to your desired length and then re wet the edge and rub to felt to seal or sew it or your own creation.  Some like to do needle felting the edge.   It is your design and do as you desire.

8.  Let dry again,  Then I like to spray a fabric stiffener and let dry again.and then embellish how ever you desire again, it is your design.  Sometimes bold is fun!

9.  After it is dry,  it is time to embellish.  Have fun.

Here is a sample of some of my finished hats.