First of all I am so glad I have found a site for fellow Milliners being in rural Queensland its a blessing to have a site like this.

Now what stiffeners do you use for Sinamay?  I have been using a glue and water mixture but cant get it to make the hat as stiff as I want. I have some chemical based solution but am a little nervous to use it. I have been using the glue method for years as this is what nan  used to use.

Also a stiffener for Felt?

I mainly make hats for the Red Hat Ladies also being a member of the group aswell, but am getting more requests from other people for hats and want a professional stiffer hat look

Thanks Tatz Hatz

Tags: stiffener

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Hi Lauren,

For sinamay I use a water based stiffener. You can get it from Parkin or Kopka. I'm sure someone can suggest a supplier near you.

For straw I use the chemical straw stiffener as I find it gives a lovely sheen and hold to the straw that you don't get with anything else.

I work mainly in felt and personally I haven't found anything that works as well as the proper chemical felt stiffener. I know other milliners who swear by other methods like Gelatin stiffener. My advise is try a few methods and see what works best for you and stick to that.

I use milliner's gelatin, available at Very economical, and you can adjust the stiffness, by using more gelatin to water.  I like to use about 2 tsp. per cup of water for sinamay. 

Thanks for the replies I think I will give the gelatin a go as using the water based one and wanted to try something different.

Also Lauren, it's always a good idea to experiment on scrap sinamay (or felt)--just to get familiar with it, and perfect the proportions of water to gelatin.  I just blocked a super thick handmade felt for a customer, and to get the gelatin to to it's job, I had to double up on the gelatin to water, and used LOTS of steam to get it to penetrate the thickness of the fibers. It did a fine job!! Sometimes it will leave a funny sheen, which I never like, but that can be gently brushed away with a wire brush. 

Question:  Are there any stiffeners that will withstand rain, humidity, and water?  

I have been using the stiffener from LEKO that is non toxic.  Do any of you worry about using the toxic stiffeners?  I feel that some of my hobbies in the past have exposed me to more toxins than I should have been and have really steared clear of stiffeners that could cause any more exposure.

I guess I should worry.  I've been using the aerosol stiffener with all the warnings on the back.  I think I get it from JudithM.  I use it outside with a mask. It's laziness on my part -- just don't want to mix up and apply the gelatin.  I'll probably make a change eventually.  I met a hatter who makes high-end bespoken hats who uses cheap hairspray as a stiffener.  His hats are amazing.  I worry some about toxic materials, but probably not as much as I should.  

I have heard of a few alternative non-toxic substances like glue being used on felts etc., but wonder if they would actually work well enough. I guess I should experiement.  I have been pretty happy with what I have been using, however.

Cynthia, Baxter Hart & Abraham do a waterproofing spray.

Whenever I'm using a chemical stiffener I always use it outside and wear a mask.


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