Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Nature of Needle Felt Hats

Needle felted hats tend to be moderately flexible, very lofty and exquisitely soft. Wet felted items however are more stable, denser and have a firmer surface. Thus some artists are combining these methods to achieve the look and feel they want for a particular hat. One can dry felt a base, then finish it with wet felting over a form to create a specific shape, to develop a firmer skin on the hat, or to reduce flexibility and increase firmness. Hatshapers, a plastic mold hat form developed by Carol Marston, have added another level of sophistication for both dry and wet felters and increased the ability to repetitively create consistent shapes with either wet, dry or mixed felting methods.

Needle felted hats are somewhat a cross between soft woven or knitted hats such as berets, skull caps, crushers and firm wet felted traditional hats that can be found in most retail stores. The thickness and density of the needle felted hat usually provides more warmth than other fabric hat styles. A needle felted hat is less pliable than a knit hat. A brim will generally stand out from a needle felted hat with less wobble and wave than with a knit or woven hat. On the other hand the brim will be softer, thicker and more pliable than a brim on a traditional wet felted stiffened hat. The needle felted hat does not generally have wire in the rim so cannot be hand shaped and hold a brim shape as one may do with a traditional wet felted stiffened hat.

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