As a new milliner, my craft/obsession needs to support itself.  That means that my equipment/supply fund can be a little lean.  I can be found daily digging through drawers, my husband's tool box, kitchen cabinets, flatware drawers, my potting shed, even my grandaughter's toy box looking for something, anything really that can be used to replace actual millinery tools.

Recently, while canning this year's harvest, and pondering the need for a steamer, the jiggling of the pressure canner jolted my brain giving me the perfect solution.  I already had what I now fondly refer to as a poor milliner's steamer.  By filling my pressure canner about half way full, I can produce a generous stream of steam that will provide enough steam for even the heaviest felt hoods.  The small vent allows me to direct the steam wherever needed.  I can even set a hood over the vent to moisten the inside of the hood for blocking.  I would caution anyone using this method to be careful not to allow the hood to stay in contact with the aluminum lid too long, to prevent hood damage.


The small vent provides enough steam pressure for most any millinery need. Note the multiple water spots from steam on the canner lid.

Ample steam escapes the vent and clings to a wool felt hat.


The first hat that I created with the help of my poor milliner's steamer.  A chapeau for my husband--Melange Felt.


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Theresa Baughman
very resourceful! I also have yet to purchase a "real" steamer. I have a small one meant for regular laundry, but its not very powerful. I've been putting my felt in a plastic bag with a small amount of water and microwaving them for 30 seconds to a minute to soften them up, which makes it a little easier for my baby steamer to do the rest of the work. Although I wouldn't recommend doing this if you don't have to, its probably not that safe haha.
Bridget Early

The thing about these canners is that very little can go wrong with them.  Many women in their sixties, seventies, and eighties have them just languishing in their attics and basements. Resourceful milliners willing to scour garage sales could probably pick one up for little or nothing.  You don't need the weight and if the gasket is old and dried out, they can be purchased for not too much. You may need to hold the hat block at an elevated or odd angle, but that really isn't a big deal in my mind.

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Leah Cassidy

Great idea.  I use a 'camp' kettle which is a whistle boiler which goes on the stovetop, and once boiled I just open the safety cap on the spout and it sends a nice neat and steady spout of steam out the top at a great angle to work with.  I got mine for about $20 I think and does just as good a job as any real steamer I've ever used!


Thats a great idea.  When u are place in a spot you have to open up your creative mind and explore and used what you have and you will be amazed of the end just like what work for you.

Bridget Early

Yes, Greer, we also call it a pressure canner.  What I call it tends to be what I am using it for. :)

Jay Ann, I have used cans, bowls, flower pots, flower pot saucers, and like you, anything else I can recycle into use. It is amazing what you can find to use when motivated.

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