It’s good to bend rules now and again (part 2)! (followed by exciting announcement!)

It’s good to bend rules now and again (part 2)! (followed by exciting announcement!)

I mentioned back in August that, having made this brimmed hat, I returned to the DHG Italy website where I purchased the industrial felt last June.  Here is the link to the August blog:

My original intention was to cover some canvas bases for exhibition pieces.  I had purchased two colours, black and blue and, as I only used the black on the canvas’s I had the blue to play with.  According to their website, the industrial wool is made up of 90% wool (Australian and South American) and 10% polyester.  DHG also mention that “This felt can be used as a traditional felt (cut, sewn, glued) but also by exploiting its thermoformability.” 

I decided to do a bit more research into the felt’s ‘thermoformability’ and my first port of call was the company’s website.  I was able to download a short simple set of instructions on how to add form to the felt using heat.

I thought it might be fun to work on a project that would take in this quarter’s challenge which is focusing on the 1950s.  It was time to put the thinking cap on and research hats of that era.  I consulted my vintage ‘oracle’ (my daughter Katie) and quickly decided on a half hat.  Katie mentioned that ladies wore these to accommodate stylish ‘front’ hairdos – the hair was curled to the front and back and that meant that these hats were placed on the back section of the head where the hair would have been flat.

She agreed to model the finished piece so I set about making a tin foil mould of her head.  At this point, she refused to be photographed wearing a tin foil hat (after all, this young woman has a reputation to maintain) so here it is on a lifeless model:


Next, I took her measurements.  I cut out a piece of felt 31cm (this was the measurement ear across the top of her head to the other  ear) by 25cm (depth to allow for folds in the felt). I placed pins when I wanted the folds to occur then I started folding the felt:


The DHG instructions recommended that, while the felt could be pinned when it was being shaped, ultimately all shaping should be tacked in place.  This tacking would remain in place until the piece had cooled down after it was ‘baked’ in the oven. All pins had to be removed as there was a distinct possibility that they would permanently mark the ‘baked’ felt.   So it was time to secure all the shapes – I used polyester thread for this purpose:

The next task involved securing it to the tin foil mould of Katie’s head.  More tacking.

Then, it was into the electric oven at 150 degrees centigrade (300F) for exactly 20 minutes.  The instructions stated that if it was left in any longer the wool would burn.  Also, temperature differed for lighter coloured felt which, it stated required a lower temperature of 130C.  It could also be ‘cooked’ in the microwave (5 minutes at 850W).  If I had used a microwave I could not have used the tin foil so I was happy to use the oven.

Once removed from the oven, the felt had to be left to cool fully so that the polymers in the polyester to set in position:

Once it was fully cooled down I removed all of the threads.  It was a bit time consuming as I had fixed them firmly into the felt but that was okay.  Here’s the result:


Next, it was time to cut out the lining.  In keeping with the vintage theme I found a piece of wild silk that my aunt had given me.  She was a fantastic lady and like the rest of her family, an artist to the core.  She was head of the Art faculty in one of our Third Level (university) colleges and a great collector of fabrics all of which she bequeathed to me when she died.  While the silk was not from the 50s it was pretty close to that era.  So I cut the fabric slightly smaller than my original measurements and hemmed it using my sewing machine.  Then I ironed in some pleats and hand-sewed the lining onto the inside of the hat.

As this is a half hat, I added a comb to the middle front of the hat and sewed elastic loops for bobby pins – one on each side:

It was then time to decorate the hat.  Given that Katie planned to do something special with the front section of her hair, I decided to decorate the back of the hat.  I used faux pearls which were mounted on thin strips of gold coloured wire and attached them with transparent nylon thread.

It was time for the photo shoot and my model did not let me down!  It was lovely to see her dress up – full hair, makeup and vintage style frock.  She has not had the opportunity over the past year and a half as we have been locked down for most of it.  Thank you Katie for going to so much trouble.

I am pleased with the result.  The instructions suggested using glue to help hold the shapes but I found that by taking time over the tacking and securing everything very well the folds stuck together during the baking process.  It is worth noting that DHG state that one can expect lighter colours to darken a bit during the baking process.

Does this inspire you to try their Industrial felt?  If so, what would you make?

Now, on a completely separate note, I am really excited to be able to share details of the launch of my Hanging Felted Spiral tutorial which will start up on October 29th.  Please access details through the following link:

Spaces on this four week workshop will be limited so places will be allocated on a first come basis.  Here is a glimpse of what you will learn to make during the tutorial:


18 thoughts on “It’s good to bend rules now and again (part 2)! (followed by exciting announcement!)

    1. Thanks a million Lynn. I loved your challenge and while Katie does not wear hats, I think she really enjoyed the whole consultation process and dolling herself up!

  1. Your experiment has got my old grey matter working overtime! Heat moulded felt offers so many possibilities and your hat is perfect for this challenge.
    All the best for your Spiral workshop!

    1. Yes I know Karen. There are so many possibilities with this stuff. It comes in heavier weights too. It’s expensive by standards. The first time I came across this was when I took a weeklong EU funded workshop in Finland. It’s actually used for insulation and the group were encouraged to sew bags with it. It’s now my music bag and it has stood the test of time. Stretching it (August blog piece) and baking it are revelations to me as to its versatility.

      thanks for your kind wishes on the workshop. 🙂

  2. How cool is that? I love the results and perfect for the fifties challenge. I wonder if this stuff is available in the US? I will have to research it.

    1. Thanks Ruth. If you find it Stateside can you let me know. I’m curious. From the point of view of makeup it’s 10% polyester.

  3. The hat is fabulous and modelled to perfection. I found your narrative and photos really interesting – very well explained & illustrated. As a product it doesn’t float my boat but one of the great things about the forum and blogs is little windows into worlds I will otherwise never see!

  4. What a fabulous hat, and an interesting process. who would have thought that only 10% polyester would have that much of an effect? Your daughter looks amazing in it. Congratulations on the Class. I will share it to the felting workshop group on Facebook.

    1. Thanks Ann. Katie is not a hat person but she enjoyed all the razzmatazz of getting dressed up. Lounge gear is the order of the day when working from home these days lol.

      Thanks a million for sharing the workshop. There’s a lot of interest in it which is really exciting!

  5. The hat is a perfect embellishment to a “fifties” style beauty. Your daughter is absolutely stunning. I loved the techniques you used to make the hat. The silk lining is perfect for the era.

    1. Thanks so much! I need to find a home for it now before it starts gathering dust in the studio lol!

  6. Recognised the model ….and realised I should have known the adventurous spirited artist who of course would be bending the rules!!!!

  7. How fun is it that you got to bake your wool? 😀 I love that. The hat came out really lovely and the model did a superb job in showing it off 🙂

    (It’s Leonor, by the way. I’m again unable to comment using my account for some reason!)

    1. Thanks a million Leonor. I wonder how it would score in The Great British Bake-off!!! It would be an original presentation for sure lol.

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