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: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/?p=44988&preview=true
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: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/classes/hanging-felted-spiral/
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: