I was looking at your introductory video. I have the exact steamer you have, but it looks like you have a hose that connects to your steamer. Did you purchase a length of hose and adapt your steamer yourself, or is that an attachment that you can purchase to go with the steamer?
When I first started making hats I bought an e-book on making felt cloches. They had you immerse the hat body in boiling water, swish it around until it is saturated, then take it out, and shake the water out. It pretty much melts on the block at that point - very easy. Then you wait about 7 days for it to dry (the bad part).
I've just recently started using the steamer and the iron. Getting the hat saturated with steam still seems difficult to me. I have found that spraying the body with a little water before steaming helps the process a little easier. I'm still experimenting though. I don't think I have ever used the same combination of blocking and stiffening - experimenting with four different types of stiffener, stiffening before and after blocking, etc.
I don't "own" any of my hat making techniques yet. I will construct a garment, and it will have my signature on it - linings sewn in a certain manner, sleeves set in a certain way, etc. Hats? I still feel like a 7th grader in home ec. It's a lot of fun, though. After I made my first cloche, I was like, "Okay, I'm done. I know how to make hats now." How ignorant was that! :)
Elaine probably has a great lesson on steaming, but I have great empathy as I've had similar problems. It seems every felt hood reacts to steam a different way. I've been on my knees on the floor trying to get felt over a block in the past!
Some pointers I've had from professionals,which have helped me:
1. Always spray the felt with water first, and leave for five minutes or so to soften the felt before steaming
2. Steam to the point where you can see the steam rising THROUGH the felt and pull and stretch the felt for many minutes all over and around, so it it quite soft and pliable before you pull it onto the block
3. Fur felt and velour felt block so much better than wool felt. Best materials = best result.
4. Take your time, to do it well can't be rushed.
5. A warm cupboard, sunshine - or a drying cupboard if you have one - can speed up the drying process. As can sitting the damp block in the air-flow of an ordinary electric fan.
6. For safety reasons, always stiffen after blocking. To do otherwise means you will be breathing in fumes from the stiffener with the steam - not good.
So glad I'm not the only one having great fun with this amazing and frustrating craft!
I think the minute any of us thinks we know all we need to know, we are in trouble. I am still experiementing and finding the best methods for me, as well. There is so much to learn and try, but I am really enjoying the journey.
Personally I dont give myself a headache ....Jiffys are good but are extremely expensive in the UK. I use a wallpaper stripper for a steamer - just cut the hose length to suit yourself and wow presto you now have a stripper for £25 to £30 only. Very easy to descale, maintain, fill and reliable and cost effective.
I can confirm that S Jones and Treacy use those in their workrooms!!! check out youtube for Stephen Jones and you will note that their employees actually do use those too.
Its something I have encouraged all my clients to do when they first come to me to learn about millinery...
Edith F- great idea! Finding it very hard to source a Jiffy Steamer in Ireland. Can you tell me what brand wall paper stripper you use and maybe where to source one? (as you can tell I've never stripped wallpaper!)
Any brand is fine even the Argos value is good! Since you are in Ireland anything between £20 to £40 paint stripper is fine ...just remember to just cut the hose to about 12 inch length and rescale steamer with Oust when necessary!
Thanks so much, great info