I'm Struggling with getting my felt hats stiff enough. Right now I'm using Hats by Leko hat stiffener. I'm Spraying it on before steaming. Does anyone have any advice.

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I received some great advice from an Irish milliner. She does 50/50 water and PVA ( like alene's fabric stiffener). It does not leave a white film. She advised to use a wide paint brush from the hardware store and brush in light layers circling from from the center of the crown all the way out to the outer circle of the brim. Let that one completely dry and if not stiff enough apply another layer. It was worked well for me so I hope that this helps.

Thank you so much I will try that.

Hi Shana, 

There are a huge number of stiffeners on the market which different people like to use for different reasons.

I have found that brushing a solvent based stiffener (lightly) on the inside of the hat until the desired stiffness is achieved is the best method. If you are making a smaller headpiece like a button, you can block a base material like buckram, foss-shape or Sinamay underneath it and that will give it a solid foundation. 

I hope that this helps! 

We find that the solvent based stiffener works the best too - much better and less likely to leave marks!

What is PVA? I use gelatin sizing (beacon Adhesives from Judith M.)  great for stiffening, but leaves a white residue. Residue comes off with a damp cloth.

PVA is used in woodwork as a glue. In Aust we use Aquadhere by Selleys ask at your local hardware store for similar. A milliner told me she uses hairspray to remove white smudge left by stiffeners. In Australia we are lucky enough to have ready access to solvent based stiffener but it is very toxic & I have always used in fume cupboard & gloves. Can not be posted and in Australia has to be couriered with data label. You can buy PVA Stiffener from Millinery Suppliers and is excellent and prepared for millinery as unlike pva wood glue it has additive disperser which helps the stiffener penetrate fibres for best results  https://www.houseofadorn.com/index.php/millinery/tools-essentials/g...


Thanks for the info Elaine.

I worry about using anything toxic, so I think I'll stick with what I'm using. It does do a good job of stiffening. I'll try hairspray for residue!

Do you put stiffener all over inside felt hood, or just on crown? I only put it on crown.

Definitely better without toxicity. After blocking crown stiffen and you can do under side of brim but if turning up avoid that if you see residue especially on dark felts. Wire will keep it in place. Two or three light coats drying in between is better than one heavy coat and you are left with blob of stain on outside. This requires patience but one of our attributes as milliners

Thorough steaming before you block is vital so it will penetrate all the interlocking fibres of the felt and help to strengthen the final felt when dry. Steaming is the old way in millinery and works the best. Have more felting fun!  

Why do we make felt hats from felt hoods?

Can't we make them from a roll of felt?

Or is rolled/ folded felt synthetic?

I find that it is cheaper for me ( as I have contact with a sheep and alpaca farm close by) to wet felt my own hoods from roving wool. There are plenty of videos on wetfelting hoods. In Canada, here, it is most difficult to obtain millinery supplies and duty/custom charges are through the roof. If wet felting, I would stick with wool or felt, as synthetics don't respond the same way. I have also needle felted a hole in a felt hat that has appeared from wear.

Discover tips from milliners around the world detailing hat stiffeners

I've used PVA but not on felt cones, used it on synthetic felt to block a button, pillbox or small saucer hat which works well. My question is can I use PVA on a felt cone and let it dry and then steam it to block it? TIA.


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