Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recycled Millinery Materials: Fur Felt

I remember reading a millinery book years ago wherein it was written that wool felt was cheap, hard to block, had to be sized in order to prevent shrinkage when moisture is in the air, and could be blocked only once.  The author went on to write that fur felt could be re-blocked over and over again, lasting for 100 years or more, as long as moths did not get into it.  So, over the years, I've never purchased--I don't remember doing so--a wool felt. 

I'm an avid thrift and antique store shopper, always on the lookout for pre-owned fur felt, among other things.  I always pass on that 100% wool felt, no matter how impressive it sounds.  So, here are two hats I've made from pre-owned fur felt; one given to me and the other I found at the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

The hat above has a velour finish.  I actually washed the felt in Woolite, blocked it over a hat block (candy bowl), securing it with push pins.  I let the fur dry, and then I lured it using coconut oil.  Luring is discussed in one of the free online millinery books located in the sidebar to your right.  I lured the felt to restore the shine that had been taken out during the wash.  I know, I know, you shouldn't wash fur felt.  No millinery sizing was needed for this hat.  Sorry I couldn't capture the beautiful chocolate color and finish of this hat.

The trim on the hat is vintage veiling I obtained from California Millinery in downtown Los Angeles.  I made the spider from vintage chenille, also obtained from California Millinery, and three vintage rhinestone (one for the tail and two for the eyes).  I don't usually block my veils because I prefer the unblocked look.

This fur felt has a beaver finish ($4!, and in perfect condition).  It has been cleaned, blocked, and lured in the same manner as the hat above, then brushed and ironed to a shinny finish.  Because this vintage felt is so soft and thin, I applied a light coat of millinery sizing to its inside.  I added extra sizing to the brim to give it extra stiffness because I left the brim unfinished.  The finish on this hat is so beautiful, I may never trim it.

Below is a cute video clip from 1942 showing  a woman making a hat from one of her husband's old hats.  I discovered this site from one of Cristina Deprada's (The Rantings of a Mad Hatter Wannabe) Hatty Tweets.  I just love watching these clips.  Enjoy!

Click on image to open video in separate window.


  1. Wow, love both hats, except for the spider. I won't wear spiders, not even on Halloween. Frankly, I'd buy the first hat and then get rid of the spider. ;-) Because it is just the hatstyle I like.

    This brings me to a question, most of us dislike insects (butterflys are the exception) but why are brooches almost always insects? In the same line, why would you put a spider on this hat? Just asking.

    So interesting that you made them from other hats.

    Happy Holidays.

  2. Hi San,

    Happy Holidays to your also. Well, actually I don't like insects either, but the veil inspired me, and since it's not real, it doesn't bother me. It was fun just to create my first spider. Take a look at the links to your right, Bes-Ben and Raymond Hudd, under Millinery-Related & Other Links of Interest. These were famous milliners that found a market for there insect trimmed hats. I was just thinking, maybe there are so many insect pins because people really like them. I bought a snake bracelet and I absolutely hat snakes!


  3. Those hats are awesome! Thanks for the info.

    About those plants last summer, did they get enough light? Maybe try the Sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke since it's native. It grows like a potato apparently.


  4. I think I have a problem with over and/or under watering. Plus, those little white bugs ate up my greens. I just became tired of washing them off with the water hose.