Hat workshop with Sarah Waters

Hat workshop with Sarah Waters

Although I’ve made a lot of 3D felt, I’ve never made a hat (I’ve made berets, but they don’t really count). This is because:

  1. I don’t wear hats (unless it’s extremely hot or extremely cold, neither of which happens much in the UK)
  2. I’ve never found a hat that suits me (which may be related to point 1)
  3. I don’t have a hat block.

However, when the London branch of the International Feltmakers Association announced a hat workshop with Sarah Waters in March, I signed up. I’d seen Sarah’s magnificent Stone exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show last October – wonderful textured work on a huge scale – so thought it would be good to learn from her.

Thankfully, the hats we made were on a smaller scale! Sarah had brought along examples of various styles for us to try on to decide which suited us.

After a lot of umming and ahhing I decided to go for the cloche hat because the height and the brim were more flattering to my rather round face.

We started by making some samples to assess shrinkage rates and also experiment with different colours and textures. Sarah had generously brought along lots of offcuts of prefelt and fabrics for us to play with, in addition to our own considerable stashes!

These are my three samples, of three, five and seven layers of fibre. Although most people used three layers, I ended up using seven, because I wanted my hat to be very firm!

After measuring our heads and making some mathematical calculations, we got on with drawing out our resists and laying out.

Here is the inside of my cloche (Sarah reminded me that the inside of the brim would show, so I added some fabric along the bottom).

This is the outside.

Please note here the spots of gold-coloured fabric. This was a silk chiffon that was dark blue on one side and gold on the other. I’d used it in one of my samples and it worked quite well when felted, giving a subtle sheen (it’s the triangular shape at the top of the left-hand sample). Here I’d laid it on top of some thick circles of leftover pink prefelt.

However, when I got to the fulling stage, I decided the shape wasn’t really working. The hat was too tall – it hadn’t shrunk enough because I’d used so many layers. So rather than trim off the excess at the bottom, I reshaped it into more of a pork pie hat, with a partly upturned brim and a flatter crown. It actually suited me much better!

But remember the gold fabric? Well, the gold colour completely disappeared in the final hat, leaving much subtler blue circles, which was a bit disappointing.

This is a perfect example of what I like to call AFOT EUWA (aim for one thing, end up with another!).

Here are some of the other lovely creations made in the workshop by Emily, Nina and Sue.

And a final group shot!

How often do you aim for one thing but end up with another? 🙂



14 thoughts on “Hat workshop with Sarah Waters

  1. Your AFOT EUWAT hat is subtle and lovely. However if you think it is too subtle it provides an opportunity for embellishment – easier than ‘calming down’ a too enthusiastic piece.
    Looking at all the hats produced I think it must have been a most enjoyable learning experience. I hope you’re planning on making another and will show it to us.

  2. Thanks Antje! Embellishment is a good idea – I might try stitching into it, although its subtlety is growing on me now. 🙂 The class was certainly great fun, and I might try making another hat next winter, now that I’ve found a style that suits!

  3. Great hat Kim! I love the colors and changing the style was brilliant. It looked like everyone had a good time and each made something unique. My first hats and only hats were made when I took Teri Berry’s online class which suited me as I could work at my own pace. But it had to be fun to share the creativity of the class.

    1. Yes – Teri’s hat class looks fun too, especially the snail hat! But the advantage of a traditional workshop for me was the chance to try to find a style that suited me – even if I changed it halfway through 😉

  4. I am always aiming for one thing and achieving something entirely different 🙂 But your hat suits you and there is nothing wrong with subtle embellishments. Thanks for the post!

  5. I can relate to the AFOT EUWA’s Kim. It’s good to allow yourself to go with the flow and see how things develop. Your hat is a perfect example of something beautiful taking a slightly unplanned path but still ending up beautiful! The class was obviously a great success.

  6. The hats look lovely! I was also pleasantly surprised to see Sue in one of the pictures, whom I know from IFA here in London.
    I had to laugh at your comment about not being cold enough in the UK to wear a hat. My first thought was, “are we talking about the same island?” Haha. I spend my Winters with a hat on…

    Your AFOT EWAT is definitely a success and looks really good, I wish I knew how to wet felt and come up with such great results!

    1. Thanks Leonor! When I wrote it I realised that the Beast from the East was going to be fresh in most people’s minds – I did wear a hat then. 🙂 But most winters are so mild I don’t bother.

      Sue runs felting workshops so I’m sure she’d be happy to teach you! Or look at some of the other IFA workshops – Emily, who is in one of the other photos, hadn’t done much felting before but produced one of the best hats.

  7. Looks like a great class. Everyone looks like they had a great time. I end up with different things all the time. One thing you could try to bring your circles back up is to give your hat a shave with a disposable razor. I do it all the time to bring the fabric back up to the surface on a hat.

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