I bought some mats which are called paper mats. They are flat and woven in various colours. Although they are called paper they are actually a fine straw. 

I used 2 layers last night just to test how best to block them. I used water first to soak both layers, stretched and blocked on a wooden pillbox block.  I then brushed a stiffener all over and within the gaps and left to dry.  Although the shape has held well and I will add a brim wire, I feel I would like it stiffer. My  stiffener is 3 parts water to one part PVA.

Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong. Maybe i should not be wetting the fabric first? 


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If you are immersing the paper panama & it is not totally dry it limits absorption of stiffener. As you say it is a paper/natural fibre combo and if too wet can break up. Just spray with atomiser and let it rest & absorb moisture. It responds well to steam to shape with no puckers. Once totally dry apply 3 light coats but ensure dry thoroughly in between. May be strengthen the PVa to 2/3rd water 1/3rd PVA. In the world there are various qualities of PVA glue. In a rush for class sent hubby to buy some and used in class only to discover the silk went as stiff as a brick but a more expensive PVA with additives for building industry so remains in his shed!! An alcohol or solvent based stiffener is excellent as dries quickly without wetting but need to search for such in your region. Hope this helps Elaine xx

Thankyou so much... I shall try this today. 



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