I don't normally use any artificial stiffener for my felt hats.. I just make it thick enough to have the required substance, and work it hard to make it as stiff as I can. But I did start thinking and wondering a few months ago, after making the Rincewind hat. It had such a wide brim and was artfully tattered about the edges.. it would of been nice to have a good stiffener to keep it exactly how I wanted it. And maybe to add a bit of extra strength to help support the weight of the sewn on details on the crown. What's always put me off using any artificial stiffener is the possibility of changing the texture and character of the felt.. this would be a big no no for me.
WELL.. all these thoughts were lurking in the back of my mind, when I spotted stiffener for sale from a felter who has a shop on Etsy.. And she uses it for her own hats! You can't get a better recommendation for a product than seeing it happily used by a fellow felter so I decided to give it a go.
The product is called Solvitose and is from Zavesfelt in Lithuania, and I believe it is made from starch. It comes in a 100g packet - I mixed 2 teaspoons with 200ml water and it made plenty so this pack will last a long time. Once the powder absorbs the water it becomes a sort of smooth wall-paper-paste consistency.
|I put the left over solution in an old preserve jar..|
not sure how long it keeps once made up, guess I'll find out
I decided to test it on this hat with a determinedly wonky brim!
|Please excuse the horrible photo!|
Using a sponge I dabbed the stiffener solution all over the under side of the brim, pushing it down into the dry felt. Then stood it on a towel to dry, I was a little concerned that it may become 'glued' to the table top.
|Light objects weighting the front of the brim down|
It took a couple days to dry, after the first day I separated it from the towel (it did stick just a little so I was glad I'd used it).
|Nice straight brim.. much better :)|
The thing I am really happy about is the effect on the felt - it hasn't really changed the texture or character! The feel of the treated side is just a little different, but not enough to worry over, it still has a soft touch. And as you can see the brim is much better behaved now :) I don't plan to use stiffener regularly on my hats, but I do think this is a very useful tool for a felters stash :)