Magic Top Hat

Magic Top Hat
DIY Felting

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The crowning glories that are hats, tiaras, barrettes, bows, hair ties, scarves, wreathes, and other head adorments! I love ’em.

Of all mainstream accessories, the hat has an impact beyond any other, revealing its wearer to be a Goddess or God.

I’ve been learning to felt, to make myself wool felt hats.

Above is the first top hat I made. Felting aside, it might be helpful to your creative process in general to know that after I finished the hat, it did not quite suit. But adding one more thing turned it into my magic Faerie top hat. So if you don’t like your designs, an addition might change that.

In my case, a button I’d designed was the right touch. (Plus I feel faaahhncy wearing a hat I designed ornamented by a button that’s also my design.) If you want to make buttons, I sent my graphics to excellent Deborah, who laser-engraved them on wood discs. Her shop is at https://www.etsy.com/shop/AlaskaLaserMaid

Okay, on to felting. The white fuzz on the hat is not fuzz, it’s glimmering strands called Angelina, which I worked into the wool. I couldn’t get a photo to catch the glimmer.

If you don’t know what felting is, you start with a relatively raw form of wool, such as roving. Basically, you aggravate that wool to form a flat felt sheet or to sculpt it into a shape such as a hat.

I wanted a wool top hat, but couldn’t find much online about felting a top hat shape, at least not anything viable in terms of my income or physical disabilities. Started experimenting and brainstorming. It worked, voilà top hat, I’m jazzed!

Here are a few of my steps. I hope they help you make a top hat. If you know basic needle felting and wet felting, and are adventurous in your creative process, what I figured out should take you a long way.

But first, another pic, because it shows a happy accident: the hat reminds me of one I saw in an old photo of a witch. I feel witchy!

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I have a foam hat form meant for making hats by combining needle felting and wet felting. The form includes a crown form, a crown extender (in other words, it lets you create a higher crown), and—if you purchase it separately—a brim form.

The form’s crown and extender combined were not high enough for a top hat, but I started getting ideas. I asked Marie, who sells the form, if I could purchase an additional crown extender. The answer was no, because crown and extender are manufactured simultaneously. (But she did ask to see pictures if I figured out how to use the hat form to make a top hat. Marie, I hope you enjoy this blog.)

So I bought an additional crown form with its extender, figuring I might need both anyway to get a high enough hat.

This photo I took has nifty captions to make things clear:HatForm

For my first top hat—the one pictured and discussed in this post—I used two crown forms, one extension, plus the brim form. For my second topper, which I’ll blog about down the line, I used both crowns and both extenders.

Speaking of blogging, I made the hat in dec 2015, making notes for this post as I worked, but it took four months to actually finish this post. That’s not a bad thing. As a blogger, I had to learn that if I always posted about creating, I’d have no time to create. Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to know.

The crown form has a beveled edge on one side, if you want a curved top to a hat. I didn’t place the beveled edge at the top, preferring to use the flat edge there, because toppers tend to have flat tops.

However, that put the beveled edge in the body of the crown. The resulting crown creases a bit in that place, and I felt okay about that, since I wasn’t trying for a formal top hat. I enjoy organic shapes.

To buy a hat form and tutorial with full directions on using it, go to http://www.livingfelt.com. I’m sharing some basic instructions in the most limited manner, and only those that relate to what I figured out. (In any case, full instructions are probably Marie’s intellectual property, and I respect that. Marie, if I used anything you don’t want me to, please let me know.)

Once you’ve laid wool on the form, you are supposed to do a good amount of needle felting, aka repeatedly jab a multiply-barbed needle into the wool to aggravate it until it mats somewhat into felt. Here’s the partially felted wool, shaped into a hat, and still on the form:HatOnFormThen you’re supposed to remove the partially felted hat from the form. Since the felt isn’t strong yet, removing the hat has to be done carefully or it will rip. This is more the case making a top hat; it was challenging to remove such a tall shape without it tearing too much.

Next, you’re supposed to turn the hat inside out, put it back on the form, and needle felt again. I skipped that. Per my previous remark, repeatedly getting a high brimmed hat on and off the form was going to destroy the felt. Instead, I found other ways to needle felt inside. I did put the hat back on the form once, right side out, to needle felt more.

This pic shows the hat after needle felting but before wet felting shrank it. Yes, it was so big it swallowed my head:
TooBig

Before attempting a top hat, I’d made at least two hats on the form. A tall unwieldy crown might’ve been unmanageable without lessons I could acquire only by the hands-on experience of making smaller crowns on the form. (I’d made tall crowned hats by wet felting alone, but that’s quite different from needle felting on a form.)

In any case, the form is a good investment, because it is an inexpensive way to make all sorts of hats.

Let me know if this tutorial was useful, so I know what sort of tutorials you want.

I’m a freak for hats. Clothing is magic to me. Are you like me? Everything I come across in life seems to be a talisman or altar: pebbles, clothing, web pages, the kitchen table.

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2 Responses to Magic Top Hat

  1. Brianne says:

    “Clothing is magic to me” reminded me that I had a dream that you were holding the Full Tilt class in my home. What stuck out the most in the dream is what you were wearing, a beautiful floral 20’s style dress and the most beautiful 20’s style Mary Jane’s. I was very jealous of your shoes they were the most amazing shoes I have ever seen. Clothing is magic :)

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Oh, my goodness, thank you for sharing that. Well, on some level I was leading the class in your home, because we really are together between the worlds during class. But still, to have that happen in the dream, it really brings it home, … Oh, pardon the unintentional pun. I wish I had the shoes you’re so jealous of. :-)

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