Friday, November 12, 2010

Hatting in Felt

At last Ive had a bit of time to actually start using all the fab blocks that my lovely friends got me for my 30th from Guy Morse Brown. I've also bitten the bullet and branched away from my tried and tested buckram and silk or sinamay construction and used felt! I decided to start with one of the simplest of my new blocks, a rather fetching slanted mini fez style and use a plain black wool cone-

So having read everything about blocking felt in all my hat books and costume books and searching the internet for hours I fired up my super powered iron and started steaming. I was definitely too timid to start with and was not using nearly enough steam as when I put the felt cone over the block and tried to pull it into shape nothing happened... Wool is a bit water resistant when ironing wool coats etc you have to spray it with water then whack it with a ruler or something to get the water to penetrate before you can iron any creases out. So with this in mind and having upped the steam generator to full power and really filled the inside with steam and then covered the felt with a wet cloth and used the iron to press the felt I started getting the shape of the block into the felt.  It is quite remarkable the way the fibres shift in the felt to allow you to mould the fabric into a 3D shape. After much pulling and swearing when I accidentally steamed my fingers the little felt blockbegan to take shape
Just a few pins...

More pins and an
almost recognisable shape.

The felt removed from the block and the edge folded under, wired and sewn.
As the block is quite a 1940's shape I decided to decorate it with a felt flower, a popular decoration of the time. Hats were not rationed during WWII and they were often the only garment a woman could easily acquire as no coupons were needed or had to be saved. However, as the war continued materials became more scarce and new hats became harder to come by, so scraps of felt were an ideal way to revive an old hat.  Miniature versions of mens hat styles were very fashionable and were worn perched on the head, tilted at a rakish angle.

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