The Transformation


All of the hats I work with are wool, fur, or fur/wool blend, and straw in the spring/summer. I love natural fibers and polyester hats are just abhorrent to me. I often see people decorating and selling such hats, but it's up to the consumer to be educated about the quality you're getting for hats that are costing you over $100. A polyester hat likely cost about $5-$10 in bulk...sometimes less. They are often shiny and you can see the rib lines all over the surface.

Wool felt hats have a matte surface and are not shiny. Because most are made in China, they dye unevenly due to any additives that were used in production, but they are still wool, and therefore dyeable. I never know exactly how the dyed finish will look, but I personally like the mottled, uneven finishes I sometimes get. They lend themselves to distressing. These tend to be easier to source, and although my favorites, Olive & Pique and Wyeth are a bit more pricey, they often have adjustable bands so they can fit a wide range of sizes. I stick with those brands.

Wool/fur blend hats are smooth, soft, matte and feel like velvet. Fur felt is lightweight, water repellent, and takes dye quite well, although bold colors often require more than one layer of dye. I use them mostly when I want a more pale color. I always have the option of over-dying, to add depth of color, something I do on occasion. These are fairly expensive to source, but I'm constantly shopping for these.

Pure fur felt is the cream of the crop, although they look and feel a lot like the wool/fur blend hats. The felt is an absolute joy to work with...pliable and smooth. Colors are often very even, but soft. The burn rubs off easily, leaving a great looking golden tone. If I want the actual burn to stay in places, I seal parts of it. These are very expensive to source, and I charge accordingly.

Australian Wool

Two Fur Blend Hats

Quality Straw

Quality Wool

Before & After

I've upcycled over 250 hats in the past couple of years, so there are way too many to show..but I added a few in the slide show to the right, so you can get an idea of what I do with dyes and paints. 

For my bands, I tend to use hides, snake, goat, cow, and exotics in winter. I lean towards textiles, mostly vintage kiiim textiles in the spring/summer, but there are always exceptions because I get tired of doing the same process too many times.

My husband can testify to my chaotic ways, as I bounce around the studio, leaving a mess of leather, string and feathers in my wake. I can usually remember each process that led me to a certain hat, but I don't write anything down, so don't expect the exact hat to be repeated.  Also, I never take commissions. I hate the pressure and stress of trying to make another person happy. I prefer to just make my hats, and if someone likes it, great! Life's too short for stress!