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Thread: Tutorial : Making felt hats.

  1. #1
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    Arrow Tutorial : Making felt hats.

    Felt hats :

    The question here about cowboy hats has prompted me to do a little more experimenting : I hope this will be useful to anyone who wants to make their own. Like anything in 1/6th , it ainít perfect , since the fibres are overscale , and the finished result tends to look a little fluffy , but at least you can get the hat you want in something better than moulded plastic.

    What you need :~



    Squares of felt can be bought from any Craft shop , in a variety of useful colours .
    I find the polyester felt to be slightly stronger , which helps with the stretching.
    This technique follows the 1:1 construction , in that the felt is formed over a block : to make this block you will need some Sculpey , or an epoxy putty like Miliput , Greenstuff or whatever, if you donít have an oven.

    The shape of the block is crucial : measure around the head of the figure , and make sure that the blockís circumference matches fairly well : a little too tight is better than too big ; the felt will always stretch , but you canít contract it.
    The shape will obviously depend on what you are trying to makeÖthe three blocks in the pic are different shapes for different periods.




    You will also need a cylinder of some kind to act as an outer mould to shape the crown over the block : I use bits of cardboard tube , but you can improvise with anything tubular of the right diameter ; it needs to be a snug fit.
    Scissors , and maximum hold hairspray , and an iron.


    Start by soaking the felt in boiling water ; remove, let cool just enough to be able to handle it and squeeze out the water , and centre it over the block.
    Stretch the felt over the block by putting the whole thing on the edge of a really firm ( preferably waterproof ) surface and pulling down the edges hard , to stretch the brim out and get the base of the crown snug against the block : at this stage you might have the bad luck to tear the felt ; tough , but start again with another piece and be more gentle .




    Once you got it succesfully stretched , it should look a bit like this :



    Once itís starting to assume the proper shape, apply the outer cylinder :



    Iron the brim , and let the whole thing dry thoroughly .



    Once dry , we try to reduce the slight wrinkliness and fluff by spraying heavily with the hairspray ( Thanks to Royoboy for this tip ) , and ironing with a very hot , dry iron . Mind your fingers.

    Put it ouside to get rid of the smell until itís dry !

    Your hat is now finished bar the trimming and shaping , adding hatbands etc.

    The hairspray does quite a lot to lay down the fluff and stiffen the hat , though they are still a little hairy : real hats are soaked in size , which gives them their stiffness .
    I find it useful with some to use matt varnish as a final treatment to stiffen and de-fluff them : itís up to you .You can also paint with acrylics , well thinned down , if the colour is not quite right , but that will stiffen it considerably.





    To shape them once finished , gently stroke and mould in the hand.

    Here are some finished examples:~








    Good Luck : this technique does take a little practice and experiment .



    ************************************************** ***********
    Last edited by Tony Barton; 10-11-2007 at 06:57.

  2. #2
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    Tony,

    Thanks a lot for the excellent tutorial.

    Quick question for you - on 4th image (second row, the most right image). Did you use regular block just like pictured on your pictures, or you made the one with a bent in the middle?

    Also, edges on your hats are reshaped up and down. Do you reshape them when felt is dry or you wet it first and then reshape?

    Thanks!

    Alexei

  3. #3
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    This was greate man.. Thanks a lot for sharing your methods and techniques. I searched and searched for one like the Black one in front center to no avail. I eventually had one custom made. It was beautifully done. I now a greater appreciation for the hat the work that went into it. Thank you for providing this information...
    " Take care of Business, Or the Business will take care of you.. "

  4. #4
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    Great hats!!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. #5
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    One hell of a tutorial Tony!
    "I'm no stranger to sarcasm, sir." Private Dexter Grif, Red Army, Red vs. Blue
    Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat

  6. #6
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    Alexei : the dent in the hat is put in once its dry : use a regular block : the same applies to any shape in the crown , like the " Montana peak ".
    You'll find you can shape the brim as well ; they are not very stiff ; about the stiffness of a real hat.
    One interesting historical fact about curly brims : the wonderful hats you see in Old Dutch paintings from the 1600s were made on a CIRCULAR block : when you put a circular hat on an oval head , the brim cocks in interesting shapes : my blocks for my early hats are circular as well , for the same reason .

  7. #7
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    Well done.

    Yup, that's the long and short of it. With just slight variations in techniques and materials, it's the same basic idea behind mine as well.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Tony.
    Everything was just fine and dandy until the flying monkeys attacked.

  9. #9
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    Yes! Finally a Tutorial on Making Felt Hats! Thank you thank you thank you Tony!!!!!! Great Tutorial!

  10. #10
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    Tony have you tried the wool blended felt. I like it because it's not as fuzzy looking.

  11. #11
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    Nice tutorial!!

    That guy on the bottom left looks a little like our own dear Laughing Gravy!

  12. #12
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    you know, PNC, I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. Thanks Tony.

  13. #13
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    faaan-freakin-tastic!!

  14. #14
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    Well made tutorial, I can't wait to make my first hat. One question, do you think the same technique could be used for leather hats?

    Thanks once again.

  15. #15
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    Great tutorial. Can't wait to have a go myself.

  16. #16
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    Tony,
    Thanks for the tutorial, and just in the nick of time too. I've been wanting to do a couple of bashes that have wide brimmed hat, have not been able to find what I need. Thanks to you I can just make what I need.

    got privilege?

  17. #17
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    You can also use starch to stiffen the felt for the hats.The same kind used to stiffen a starched collar.It might actually work better than hairspray, especially with the ironing.

  18. #18
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    Brilliant work, as usual, Tony, and a tremendous thank you for posting the tutorial. I've already learned a great deal from your techniques, and feel I owe you a real debt of gratitude.

  19. #19
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    Starrdog , I love the starch idea : I'm not altogether happy with the hairspray , partly because of the stink ! They do need some stiffening : I've used white glue ( diluted ) in the past as well .
    Griz , I think your leather hats would have to be made in pieces ,unless you have some exceptionally stretchy vegtan leather .

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griz
    Well made tutorial, I can't wait to make my first hat. One question, do you think the same technique could be used for leather hats?

    Thanks once again.
    Griz,
    I was thinking along the same lines as you...
    Here at the office I have lots and lots of vinyl, leather, pleather, doe skin, pig skin, etc. Some of this stuff has a lot of stretch. These are sample sizes, the largest is maybe 4 inch by 4 inch.

    If you want to send me your address I'll throw some in an envelope and drop it in the mail.
    got privilege?

  21. #21
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    Cool hats!!! Nice tutorial!!! This needs to be archived

  22. #22
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    Very nice tutorial Mr. Barton.

    I gather that you can use craft store felt squares to make hats. You don't need to use really expensive natual felt. The Poly/mixed felts work okay using this technique?

    Thank you for sharring.

    Dan
    These thoughts courtesy of a madman found chained to his workbench hidden deep within his subterranean Factory of Devious Inventions.
    No notice should be taken of his ramblings whatsoever.

  23. #23
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    Very nicely done,

    I always think it's great when true talents like yourself take time out to share your tips and techniques. That's what this hobby is all about and it means that it can grow and flourish.

    Thanks for sharing

    CHEERS!

  24. #24
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    Excellent tutorial, i can see some Aussie Slouch hats that arent plastic. Thanks for sharing!

  25. #25
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    thanks a million
    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

  26. #26
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    This is a fantastic tutorial. I had no idea one could do this. Thanks for posting this.

    BTW - who is this figure? I like the sculpt and this paint is incredible. The eyes look fantastic.

    Last edited by trevor22a; 12-03-2007 at 20:12.

  27. #27
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    It's a Tony Barton original. Tony is the man.
    got privilege?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by KneeJoint
    It's a Tony Barton original. Tony is the man.
    My goodness. Beautiful work. Even the ears looks perfect. I can't not look at the eyes - so alive.

  29. #29
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    I am so happy I saw this, I am going out tomorrow to get some epoxy and some polyester felt!

  30. #30
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    Trevor , the figure is my " Devonshire regiment at Imphal " , which I did a couple of years ago. If you are able to access SAG , he's here :

    http://www.sixtharmygroup.com/portal...725&highlight=

    I only do figures with my own heads : seems like cheating to use a commercial one !
    There's a tutorial on this forum about how I model them .

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Tutorial : Making felt hats.
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