When handmade hats are mentioned, knitted and sewn hats spring to mind. However, it is not at all difficult to make your own stylish felt hats from wool fibre. All that is really needed is a hat form, which can be constructed from cardboard.
Today I’m going to show you how to felt a beret – this is the easiest hat to start with as the form is just a flat circle of cardboard. It’s also a very flattering style, suiting most faces. I don’t have a ‘hat face’ at all, most hats just look silly on me – but I can wear berets and tams.
- Corrugated cardboard
- a large dinner plate
- wool fibre
- dish soap and water
- length of tape or ribbon the circumference of your head
- needle and thread
Make a circle of cardboard, drawing round the dinner plate as a guide. If you prefer a slouchier hat, add an inch or so all round. Completely cover the circle with bubble-wrap, bubble side up. This both waterproofs the cardboard, and provides friction on the inside of the hat helping it felt better.
Layer wool fibre all over the circle, overlapping the edge all round. The layers of wool should go in different directions, as described in our earlier post on how to make felt.
Sprinkle generously with soapy water, wetting all the wool thoroughly, and begin to rub the surface. Rub very gently at first, increasing pressure and vigour as the fibres begin to felt together.
When this top circle will hold together, carefully flip the circle over, and fold in the wool that overlaps the edge. Layer wool on this side as you did on the other, but this time leaving a clear space (smaller than your head) in the middle. Again, wet and rub to felt.
Keep on rubbing all over, paying attention to the edges, gently at first but then more vigorously, until the whole thing is well-felted into a strong fabric.
Being careful not to cut the felt, cut slices out of the cardboard circle so you can remove it easily. Rinse your hat in first hot and then cold water, until all the soap has been rinsed out.
Once you beret is dry, carefully pin a ribbon or band, which fits round your head, at an equal distance from the edge of the hat all round. Stitch in place and trim away the excess felt.
Finished! If you liked making this hat, you could experiment with constructing forms to make other styles. Or you could trim your hat by sewing or needle-felting on flowers or other details.