How lucky am I? Yesterday I spent a fabulous day on a course to make a hat at the brilliant Hats From The Hall which is about a five minute walk from home. I was bought this experience as a gift and was so looking forward to the chance to try felting again but on this occasion to make something useful.
The day includes Danish pastries on arrival, buffet lunch and scones with jam and cream for afternoon tea with free access to hot and cold drinks. With catering taken care of let me tell you about the venue. Mountsorrel Hall, a magnificent Georgian building, is now a domestic residence ie the beautiful home of Louise and family who also hold the millinery courses there.
From the minute you walk in the door you are given a warm welcome by both Louse and Vicky who guide you through each step of the process. On my day the choice was a cloche hat with felt flower detail or a fascinator. The felt flowers can be wet felted from scratch or cut outs to your own design from the hat felt, both of which can be embellished using fabulous beads, buttons and trims. My fingers were soon itching!
First step was to try on a range of hats to get an idea of style and fit which was duly noted by Vicky so that the hats forms could be prepared and allocated. Next we chose our colour- I can’t remember what the base felt piece was called but it resembled a large round topped cone which, if worn covered your complete head! These had to be wet and steamed so that they were pliable enough for us to fit and ease to the shape of the form which we then pinned underneath, fastened with a string around the crown and taken to the drying room ready for the next step. This is quite a strenuous process and you need asbestos hands to handle the hot ,wet felt.
Meanwhile we were able to work on our choice of decoration.
When choosing the colour for our hats we chose the materials for our decoration which included roving for the felt with additional silks and the petersham for the waist and edging (if desired) for the hat.
Splitting into two groups we set about the next step. If only I had moisturised my hands better, the fleece was sticking to my hands like velcro but as the process went on and I added the water and soap this was no longer a problem. Each stage of felt making has a therapeutic quality to it as there is much massaging and rubbing to be done. I love the way you take the raw materials and change them through manipulation into a rich and beautiful fabric. There is something very honest about the whole process, almost spiritual; but also quite comedic as we looked at the expressions on each other’s faces! With wet and soapy hands I didn’t break off to take photos during this process but the end result is this…
I chose the rich pinky/red for my base colour with some purple to tone in with the hat, then used the silk in bronze, gold and a hint of white for depth and richness. The beads were threaded onto a wire to make application easier (lazy way) and I was delighted to find the large ‘tiger eye’ like bead for the centre and some added *bling*!
All that was left to do was to apply the petersham and add the flower. Most of us opted for the talented Louise to machine sew the petersham to the edge but managed the hand sewing needed to secure the ‘waist’ to the hat. Last job was fixing a clip to the flower with the glue gun and hey presto- what was the result- 12 women eating scones with jam and cream, sipping tea and wearing hats!!! Here are a few more pics from the day
Some of the fabulous hand created hats by Louise at Hats From The Hall
Me and my “titfer”!
Waiting in the petersham queue
I just adore the mannequins
If you ever have the opportunity then I highly recommend a day out at Hats From The Hall. It was a brilliant experience and I am now the owner of one unique felt hat, made by me. Thank you to my dear friend Helen, the Trusty Gardener for the wonderful gift of the day.