Monday, January 7, 2013

Felting a Beret

Happy new year and welcome to my A.D.D. post. This is the time of year where I just can't seem to focus on the work I am supposed to be doing. I think about cleaning my studio after the Christmas season madness, but then I sew a dress, or look at recipes or go for a walk. I'm hard pressed to stay on one activity for any significant length of time. I'm sure this is a reaction to the Uber attention it takes to get through wholesale orders and winter shows, so I'm just going with it for a while. Today's procrastination project was wet felting a beret. I don't know whether you agree, but I thought you might like to see the process a bit. If not to learn how it's done, then to get a glimpse into how insane you need to be to actually make hats this way. It's really fun and messy and takes forever.
I started out by making two felt batts from merino wool roving. You layer whispy pieces of wool over a template. I make four layers per batt. It shrinks a lot, so you need to make them much larger than the finished hat.
The first batt goes on the bottom with the template on top. It is wet down with a soap and water solution.
The second bat is wet down and then the whole thing is flipped.
The seams from the second bat are folded over and wet down and then the fun begins.
I had needle felted this flower to incorporate into the beret. It's not completely felted, so it will attach. I wanted it to be attached both on top and bottom.
Using more soap solution on my hands I rub the whole hat very gently using circular motions. You need to really make sure the seams are well felted. Remember, the bubble wrap template is in the hat, so the insides won't felt together.
Once the wool is not so delicate, I wrap the whole thing up in a large piece of bubble wrap and roll away. I keep unrolling, rearranging the hat and rerolling.
Now it's time to make the head opening and remove the template.
At this point the hat is sufficiently felted that the insides won't stick together. I keep rolling and reshaping for a while. The next step is to knead the hat like dough. For the grand finale you get to throw the hat like a mad woman against the counter about 150 times. Wonderful anger management technique. When all is done you rinse the hat in hot water and you can stretch the head size to however large you need it. I made it fit my head because I really want this hat and if it doesn't sell it's mine.