Friday, January 22, 2016

Heart-FELT Desires

I've been wanting to make felt hats for awhile now. What's held me back is thinking I needed special rolls of wool. While I did buy a small package, I discovered that working with felt squares is easier, not to mention, faster! In preparation for this post, I tried a number of different approaches, all of which I share with you here. And while there is a plethora of photos on this page, don't think for a moment that any of this is complicated.

The reality is it is enormously easy because we are working with a super simple base which serves as a canvas for all of your creative expressions.

1.Felt squares are sold everywhere. If you can, try to find wool felt or at least, a material with wool content. Above the orange square is wool, the purple synthetic. Wool will make the process go even faster because it practically melts with steam. But if you are not so lucky, the synthetic still works, though requiring a bit more work to get a smooth finish at the edges. You will need a form. You can create your own. Click here for instructions. Or you can simply use some small object around the house, like bottle caps, to serve as your hat form.
2. Each hat on this page started out with a  4x4" (103mm) square of felt. First, treat the felt by washing it with soapy water, working the suds into the fabric. For the synthetic felt, I also put it in a cup of hot water, leaving it until the water cools.
3. Stretch the wool in all directions. These two steps serve to soften the wool fiber and making it pliable to smoothly fit over the hat form.

4. For my first hat, I stretched the wool around the form and tied it at the base.
5. Using a iron on a low setting, I press all around the crown.
6. At the base, I stretch out the gathers and press around the edge and underneath
7. Set aside and allow to completely dry. When dry, untie and cut around the base, allowing a small margin.
 



 8. For this model, I decided to use an inner hatband. I don't have access to a milliner supply store and didn't want to wait to order online. Instead, I used a narrow strip of elastic. Stitch to the edge (and not directly through to the hat. I ran my iron along the inner edge of the hem. If the hat has stretched a bit, you can put it back on the form, spray lightly with water and press the hat again with the iron.
9. For the finished look, I simply took the scraps, gathered them into a bunch and made a stitch at the center. Attach to the side of the hat and voila! Feel free to add feathers, fur trim, lace, ribbons, rhinestones, tulle.... For example:

 
 The basic hat is chic enough to be worn as is....

...or embellished with a wisp of tulle wrapped around the head and tied at the side.

 10-12 Here, I used my wide brimmed hat form. This works for either a cloche or a style with a bit of a brim. Again, I follow the same procedures as listed above. The iron is used to help shrink the fibers around the form. Be sure to work the gathers out around the string, ironing and moving the fabric around until the crown is smooth.
13. This shows what it looks like when it's totally dry.
14. I cut away what I won't use.
15. Then press the felt below the cord. You can use the cord to guide your scissors as you cut the excess away. Or you could press this down into a brim.
Here, I've cut the excess away, then added it back as a garnish on the side and slipped in a feather.

I made another hat using a purple felt. Instead of cutting away the excess, I thought it would be fun to leave as is. The result reminds me of head gear reminiscent of Japanese fashion from the 1990s.

This process worked so remarkably well (I made 10 hats in two days), I decided to see what would happen if I used scraps of wool jersey.
I did get the hat shape, however, it is really soft! I stitched in a hatband made from bias cotton tape, but it was difficult to keep the edges from stretching. I tried using a spray-on start or sizing agent but it tends to flake when dried!

Here, I tried using a scrap of wool (the same material as her suit.) I did get a dome shape but couldn't control the stretch when I tried to add a hatband. So.......I re-wet my hat, tied it back to the form. The when dry...added a small bit of faux fur.

16. The takeaway is that your hat will take the shape of whatever is underneath. A quick tour around the house and I found bottle tops, product caps and the like to shape my hats. Whatever you choose should be slightly smaller than the dolls head (as it will stretch when dry).
17. After preparing your felt, stretch it over the bottle top then hold in place with a rubber band.
18. Adjust the gathers around the rubber band so as to make everything above smooth.
19. Allow to completely dry. Notice how my hat has the shape of the product cap.
20. Cut away the excess. For this series of hats, I've left the rough cut edge.
21. I love the sharp edges of this container. The result is that perfect Jackie Kennedy pillbox!
 22. Again, I scooped up the scraps and chopped them up. Put them together and stitch in the center then attach to one side of the hat. You can also add a touch of glam with a rhinestone sticker squarely placed in the center.

No matter how simple or how elaborate your tastes lie, use your imagination and make this basic felt hat your own!
 
 
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24 comments:

  1. Thanks for another awesomely easy tutorial! My favorite one is with the tulle wrap

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    1. Thank you, Teva. I, myself, am amazed at how easy this was. I love the tulle wrap as well. Should I come across some fancier netting with the little flocked spots (specifically made for millinery) I plan to replace the tulle with it.

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  2. This is brilliant April, and easy with such a spectacular result! The hats look so real and chic, this is again a wonderful post :-).

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    1. There are projects that, in my head, should be easy....but made me cry. And then there are projects like this one where I thought it would be complicated and it was not only easy, but it yielded amazing results! Thank you. Happy you enjoyed this.

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  3. Wow!! These Hats are amazing!<3 I'll definitely try to do the same :) Thank you for the inspiration and instruction :)

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    1. Hi Pikulina, and welcome to my blog. Thank you for your kind words. What is so wonderful about doing such a simple hat is that you can transform it into whatever you want. I had such a good time with this project, it was hard to stop. Come back any time.

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  4. Oaaa how amazing! : D
    I mean, they all look so good yet you made the process look so easy. Wonderful tutorial, great mini hats~ <3

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    1. Thank you Uraru. Incredibly as it seems, the process is as easy as it looks. That's why I made so many hats. This was so much fun, I'm planning experiment with the brims!

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  5. Which of these hats are 100% synthetic? Unfortunately I'm allergic to wool and wouldn't bear handling it for so long. I love the doll in a leopard coat with a ponytail and feathered hat, who is she? Also, LOVE the lavender coat with the furry hat.

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    1. The rust brown (second hat from the top), the orange hat with the feather, the white hat and the one trimmed with the fur are all wool. Everything else in this post is synthetic. You prepare it the same way. It's just not as soft as the wool and requires a bit more effort to work out the excess from around the bottom edges. But using the rubber bands with the bottle caps made it a bit easier. The doll with the ponytail in the leopard coat is Integrity Toy's Zara Wade (Color Infusion line).

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  6. Wspaniałe! Doskonałe! Pomysłowe!
    Pozdrawiam Cię serdecznie!

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    1. Olla wrote: Great! Perfectly imaginative !
      Greetings!

      Thank you Olla. This was a lot of fun to create. Big hugs.

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  7. Hello from Spain: I like your hats. Very glamurous. Fabulous tutorial, great hats.Nice photos. We keep in touch

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    1. Thank you, Marta, for your kind words. Very happy you liked the hats. See you soon!

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  8. Oh Wa ! La c'est le top. Domage que je ne vis pas à Paris, autrement j'aurai pris des cours. C'est très beau.

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    1. Merci, Shasarignis. C'est aussi, tres facile et simple a faire! Grace a l'internet, on peut apprendre presque n'importe quoi et cela est genial!

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  9. April, wow! I love your hats. I love how much room there is for variation and embellishment, too.

    We often get mismatched earrings at the Idea Store, and I'm thinking... with the posts snipped off, they'd make gorgeous faux hat pins! Just needs a little fabric glue. Would look beautiful with feathers, too.

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    1. Thank you Sarah. The possibilities are endless! The addition of bits of jewelry would be a really glamorous touch! I hadn't even thought of making hat pins! Great idea!!!

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  10. whoa!! April, I am sooo making this. All my girls are gathering around me with envious look in their eyes!!
    Great tuto thanks for sharing

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    1. Thank you, Dominique. In fact, I was only going to make 3 hats for this post. But my girls started fighting over who would get to wear them, so that's how I ended up making 10! AND...I just went out to buy more felt for more hats!!!!

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  11. A great tutorial and beautiful hats :)

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    1. Thank you Urzula. Glad you enjoyed this post.

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  12. Amazing dolls and so smart idea for them look! Great outfits and beautiful hats! :)

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    1. Thank you Aya. If you love fashion and dolls, you've come to the right place. Here we have a great time keeping up with all the hottest trends!

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