How I made the Earth Day Headdress

How I made the Earth Day Headdress

Felted Earth Day Headdress with Spinning Globe and Felted Earth Vessel

How I made the Earth Day Headdress – or the backstory of an extravagant hat

This week I want to share with you how I made the Earth Day headdress, but first, there is the Why.  

Most of the time, I concentrate on making small collections of everyday-ish hats. However, with craft fairs (and social media!), it’s important to have an attention-getting, showstopper hat that literally, stops attendees from passing my craft fair booth.

Over time, my Seagull hat performed this role admirably. But, I sold it at last year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival. Therefore, I wanted to make a ‘replacement’ that came from my heart and would be ‘evergreen’ and speak to almost everyone. Our beloved Earth is our universal symbol and has become a timeless image since the astronauts photographed it from space.

Additionally, I had some practice in felting earths to make prototypes for my Felted Vessel class.


Planning Stage

While I did go to art school and wanted to be an illustrator, I now rarely draw. However, for ‘big projects,’ such as this Earth Day Headdress, I like to do a bit of preparation in the form of rough sketching and general research.

Here’s a photo of Horus and Hathor that I took from a mural at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Since I was little, I have admired Egyptian art! They are so inventive with headgear!

Egyptian Gods and Goddesses at the Carnegie Museums

Here’s a photograph from my sketchbook. In addition to drawing, I made a newspaper maquette to figure out the scale in relation to a human. I wanted to make a hat that was tall, but in proportion. From the drawing, you can see that I combined design features from both Horus and Hathor.


Sketchbook of hat shapes with felted globe

Actual Making Stage

Then, I had to scale up for shrinkage to account for a 40% shrinkage rate of Merino wool. Here’s the wool roving laid around the resist of plastic underlayment. Yes, it’s the kind that builders put beneath kitchen floors. By the by, Home Depot has the least expensive kind!


Earth Day Headdress laid out in Merino Wool before it's felted


You can see that it’s huge! The embroidery scissors point to where the head goes into the hat. Adjacent to the scissors is the long ‘tail’ which I turned inside-out to become the ‘horn,’ The aforementioned maquette proved helpful in figuring this all out. Can you see that the large ‘horn’ is connected to the turned up brim?

As I was super-excited about this hat, that I didn’t take good notes on all the layers. According to my handy-dandy, ‘Earth Day Hat’ Excel document, there were three layers of wool roving. But, I think that I would have used four (or more)for an architectural hat.

Similarly, I was too inspired to take many in-process photos. Here’s the one that I have.

Starting to felt down the headdress.


Here’s a star-filled, side view of the hat’s crown. It includes a technique that I learned in Fiona Duthie’s online class, Surface Design. You can also see the same technique used in THIS rocket-shaped hat.

Can you see how I needed to lay the embellishments of ‘silk hankies’ on the underside of the brim?

Profile view of the Headdress - you can see the shine of silk hankies on the underside of the brim.


Adventures in Proper Millinery

After I felted, rinsed, shaped, and dried the hat, I saw that it needed support. My notes mention the possibility of using a hat stiffener. But because I worried that the stiffener would discolor and change the surface of the felt, I went to other millinery methods. Below, you can see my stained copy of Denise Dreher’s ‘From the Neck Up.’ Laying on top of the book is a roll of millinery wire. I hand-sewed the wire to the edge of the brim and inserted a section of this inside the tall horn.

From the Neck Up and a roll of cotton covered millinery wire


Next, I covered the wire with bias-cut, hand-dyed silk habotai fabric. Because I so rarely use this millinery method, I consult milliner and teacher, Jan Wutkowski’s helpful ‘Bias Edges- Tutorial.’ Incidentally, Jan co-organizes the annual Millinery Meet-Up which is held at Arrowmont School of Crafts.

Vexingly, the engineering support of the Earth proved difficult. I had hoped to have it dangle from the ‘horn’ to emphasize the fragility of our planet. However, the tall horn didn’t have enough oomph. With the silk fabric on edging the brim, it really was too late to resort to millinery stiffener.

So, I groped about for a while, periodically showing my spouse. Not that he is much of an engineer. But unlike myself, he was born on a farm and can be quite handy with tools. Eventually, I poked a hole on the top and bottom of the felted globe. Then, I inserted a piece of millinery wire (blackened with Sharpie) through the globe. Using pliers, I formed a loop at either end. Through these loops, I hand-sewed the wire to the tip and horn of the hat.

Voila! Finally, the Felted Earth Day Headdress was completed! And while I did not wear my felted Earth Day Headdress in public on Earth Day, it will make its debut at my upcoming craft fairs.


Me, modeling the Earth Day Headdress


Hat Attack Link Up

Every month, the lovely hat-ambassador and Advanced Style Goddess, Style Crone / Judith Boyd, shares a hat from her large collection of vintage and new hats. She calls this sharing ‘Hat Attacks.’ This month’s offering is atypical of her collection because she’s wearing a large brimmed hat. But as usual, her soulful writing on the meaning of life and the intersection of hats within it will charm you.

Go and have a look at her Hat Attack #57!



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