Step 1: Materials Needed
- Vintage Felt Hat
- Styrofoam Mannequin Head
- I bought one at Hobby Lobby for about $6
- Please note: at Hobby Lobby they had ones with different head sizes - so bring measuring tape & try to get one that is about 1/2 inch bigger than your head size
- If you need to sew through the felt, you'll need a special thread that is glazed but millinery thread is hard to find (you can get it online)
- Or, I found at Hobby Lobby in the leather tooling section that they sold glazed or coated thread there - and that is what I used
Step 2: A Word About Felts
Many of the old hats I have are not clear as to what type of felt they are. And from my online research people tend to say that wool felt is not the best to have and that it doesn't reshape well. But, the brown hat in my photos here is 100% wool felt and I think it worked pretty well. Other things I've read about wool felt is that it shrinks quite a bit - and I did find this to be true. But, I made a snug-fitting cloche style hat so I didn't mind that I had a lack of material. It held the shapes which I molded it into and the sides which were almost like ruffles very well. So I am happy with how it turned out! I recommend using what you have.
So, this Instructable will show you how to make a close-fitting hat with a foam hat block and vintage felt. If you wanted to make a cowboy hat style - this will not work unless you have a hat block that you make or buy to create that shape.
*The image in this step is an image of a basic felt hood. These are sold online and can be used with a hat block to shape it into whatever your heart desires. Prices vary online - anything from $20-60 per hood. Pricey!
Step 3: Preparing the Hat & Block for Re-blocking
Now take your hat block or foam mannequin head. Before using it for this project, you may want to treat it in some way to make it more stable and able to take the pressure of your shaping and also pinning. I personally used some modge podge (which is like elmers glue watered down) and did a couple layers over the foam head and let it dry overnight. This worked well enough. But the base of the neck of the mannequin cracked the next day - so you may want to take some duck tape and go around it with it.
Step 4: Reblocking Your Vintage Felt Hat
Have pins ready for use with the hat block. Return to the hat block with your wet felt (which should be warm/hot from the water) and pull it over the hat block as tight as possible. Pull it down and pin it so it holds its shape and doesn't shrink up. Once you pin it in a few places, I recommend using a band (ie: shoelace or strong string) to tie around the hat to help it hold its shape further. Keep an eye on how much you're pulling and stretching it so you don't overdo it - it is possible. In the area where I removed the glue - I accidently cut a little deep and I almost had a hole in the felt there.
If you see some of the photos in this step - you'll see my hat with a grey band around it on a hat display. That was after I blocked it once and I didn't like the fit and it was too small still. So I put it back on the hat block and worked it again until I liked it.
When pinning, you do not need to pin all the way through the felt - as just the tips of the needles work fine. If you see one image I've shared I have a ton of needles sticking out. I was attempting a free-form style of hat shaping where you create interesting shapes with the material. I ended up scrapping it and reshaping it - but it was fun to see the results (I needed to reshape it and get rid of the glue residue). It takes a lot of practice to make something that style that turns out well. But it can be done and look amazing!
Step 5: Finishing Touches
If you want to add a ribbon - loosely pin it in place how you like it and hand-stitch it on. I like how mine turned out in the end - looks vintage but has hopefully a little updated look - but not much! :) I have received a lot of compliments on it - which is nice. I don't love the color of this hat - but for my first attempt I really like it and can't wait to make another one with black or navy blue.
If you have questions, please ask. I will update this Instructable with some more tips - especially on sewing with the felt but must save that for later!