Hi all,

This has probably been asked a dozen times but...?
I use a flammable felt stiffener from Parkins UK, not cheap at £20.00 plus VAT plus postage for 500ml???
But try as I do, and work it in to the felt it always leaves behind white marks/residue??
Is there really another alternative other than the expensive flammable stiffens that don't leave these marks!
I'm sure i've read somewhere about watered down PVA which is sprayed onto the inside of felt?

Any suggestions greatly appreciated:-)

Thank you!

Tags: stiffener

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Here it is Sophie ! I have also included the hand carved block I made for it. I needle felted the band and made a small velvet rose to sit on the band.

Oh Jain, that's lovely!  LOVE the colour :oD


Thanks, so it was worth saving then ?

For sure!!!!! :oD


thanks for posting this im going to try it too! never making that mistake again.

Hi all, I live in Canada and the possibility of obtaining a good chemical felt stiffener is impossible, due to shipping and Customs regulations. I came across three different spray stiffeners, but haven’t had the opportunity to try them yet. Rather than spritzing them on the inside of the crown, I will brush it on in circular brush method so that the stiffener makes it’s way into the felt. Other than the diluted PVA, I have no other choices, unless some milliners from Canada know of any product that can be shipped? The Bickmore Kahl Felt /wool stiffener boasts a dark colour that can be used on dark hats, the Scout brand people advertise that the product does not leave any residue and the fabric stiffener, I believe is starch based. I find it frustrating that none of these products list any ingredients. Once I have experimented with these, and hopefully get some positive results, I will let you all know. I am open to suggestions , being new at millinery and all :)

Hi I buy mine in bulk size from direct adhesives and it is cost effective as it last a few years.  It does not leave white marks.


call them and see

Living in Canada, obtaining a non-PVA stiffener is impossible to import and is not available for purchase here. I have visited the local Home Depot (lumber/hardware, etc shop) and researched as well as experimented. The carpenters and workers there are very helpful and have suggested in lieu of using shellac with a toxic thinner (shellac leaves a nasty residue as well as it being coloured), I use a water based Varathane, thinned down a lot with either water or some sort of ethyl alcohol as it evaporates faster and thus quickening the drying time. I have bought a small amount of each, including the shellac and will experiment in the New Year once our basement (where the new home to my sewing and millinery studios will be). Importantly, the use of a vapour hood is highly recommended, always.

Hello Maureen, I live in Toronto and I don't make hats - well not like you do girlfriend - nice work!!! I am a felt sculptor and I am in need of some advice regarding your foray into stiffeners - I have used the brickmore Khal stiffener for some of my needs, but I work large - I mean LARGE and at 19 bucks for a wee bottle shipped from Montreal - ugh... I can use it for shaping rods and surface design pieces, but not for a large vessel. So, how did it go with the water based varathane and water or ethyl alcohol to dilute? - btw - the back of my brickmore kahl states that it's denatured alcohol and natural resinous glaze. I have used it to fully wet out wool rods and they dry stiff as horns without any residue. Looking forward to your response.

best to you,


You can buy this one where you are and FedEx ground delivers it.  Hats by leko.  The stiffener is considered one of the best in the world...https://www.hatsupply.com/leko-purpose-stiffener/

Hello, I have used the PVA based stiffener from Parkin's- then threw it in the bin. it ruined the two hats I was working on at the time. You can use a 50/50 PVA/water mix if you are looking for a PVA based product, although acetone will not remove the residue from the Parkin solution. My preference is the Chemical stiffener sold here in UK 'JJ1500' sold from several suppliers including MacCulloch and Wallis. Pre-stiffening the inside of felts is great. Make sure you apply then leave to dry fully before blocking. Then when blocking- steam for a good 4 mins, stretch over your block, remove hood and steam another 4 mins and then proceed as normal. For a really solid stiffening I also like to use shellac. Again can be inside the felt or on the outside once blocked, though shellac gets firmer and firmer the longer you steam it if you have pre-stiffened.

Ultimately it is down to preference and trial and error.

Hope that helps in some way ;-)

Hi Susan,

Ive used that stiffener from Parkins as well - when you get it right, it works a treat - but I too have had the white marks when it hasn't gone so well, not to to mention the hard lumps as well. its an incredibly thick stiffener and it really is "less is more" with it and lots and lots of steam.  The method I use - pour some into a clean jam jar, tip of brush in, then wipe any excess off so there are no drips.  then dab the edge of the brush around the top of your felt about 5 times spaced out.  Whats left on the brush - even though you dont see it work in well to the top of the felt and work down around where you have dabbed it. that stiffener needs working into the felt really well.  Then back into the jar and work around the rest of the felt with the same process. Then its lots and lots of steam.  There is a youtube video of Nicola at Parkins stiffening a hat with this if you want to have a look.  I also use a felt stiffener from Millinery Supplies in Ireland - £16.00 for 500mls (no vat) but they do charge 10 euros for postage to uk, so I buy about 3 + at a time.  Its much thinner than Parkins stiffener and much easier to work with, but you need a little more with that one - but its the same process, work in well and lots of steam.  PVA I also buy from Baxter Alan and Hart - one part pva to 4 parts water, sometimes I do 1 part pva to 3 parts water. (again I put it into a cleaned out jam jar, pop lid on and shake to mix) I dab mine into the felt with a sponge (I just use a kitchen sponge with the scourer on the back from the cheap range), dab it into the solution, squeeze on edge to get excess off and work over the felt. I tend to do this the night before blocking as I leave it to dry and then lots of steam to activate it before blocking.  Works a treat.  The only downside to pva, it does leave a bit of a shine on the inside where you have used it. thats ok if you are lining your felt, but you will see it on an upturned brim.  The benefit of pva - you can use this on sinamay as well if you need it abit stiffer, same split of water - but I spray the sinamay instead of dabbing, use a hairdryer to dry it out on cool and make sure you dont let it block the open weave of the sinamay - it takes ages to pop the blockages out with a needle - one by one!  Hope that helps - may not be the correct method, but it works for me.  Happy hatting.  Regards Lorraine 


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