Wednesday, November 28, 2012


To start with, lets clarify a few things.
*Rabbit fur is a byproduct of people eating rabbit meat. Just like leather is a byproduct of eating cows and pigs. Rabbits are not killed for their fur. Millions of people around the wold eat rabbit which happens to be one of the healthiest meats available.

*Rabbit Fur felt hats can have different "finishs" like "Salome" (has a heather finish),  "Velour" (has a plush upper body and flat under body), "SUEDE" (the nap is intentionally raised and then tightly trimmed back), "Peluche"(hardly trimmed and very furry), "Velvet" in between Peluche and Suede.
Finishes involve "pouncing" the fur felt by sanding down the surface to a lustrous finish. There are also many other finishes created by blending rabbit fur with other hair like beaver, cashmere (peach finish).
Yes, you can also blend in your cat or dog hair to personalize your felted hat.

* Some hat sellers will point out the XXXX sweatband stamp, as a Golden quality standard. The XXXX connotes absolutely nothing, as there is no regularity body to over see the quality attributed to the number of X's one can use.

Unlike the wool felting process, where the wool is felted into thin cobwebs and built up in layers around a solid cone,  the rabbit hairs are fed into a machine which has a perforated metal cone. The cone has perforations through which the hot, damp air is sucked. As the cone rotates the rabbit hair is matted/felted around the cone. Rabbit hair felts together much closer than sheeps wool, so rabbit fur hats are naturally water repellant.
Rabbit fur is much more expensive then sheeps wool so the exact amount of hair needed is carefully measured before being added to the machine.
In this video we see the felted hood being removed from the perforated cone. The worker is wearing a mask as you can see some little rabbit hairs floating around from the process.

Once the cone is removed, the process is the same as seen in the wool felting blog. Check that the hood as no holes/weak spots.
 Go through the shrinking steps.
 Go through the sizing process.

Here are some top hats after being blocked and waiting for additional sizing.

Here we have a worker using a hot cloth to smooth/pounce the fur and bring a silky, shiny finish to a Top Hat.

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