Ordering unusual millinery supplies for new explorations

posted in: business, education, millinery | 2
Expanding my universe by ordering unusual millinery supplies for new explorations –

Eons ago, I studied proper millinery with Ann Albrizio at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. It was such an exciting time, where I felt that my brain was exploding with the stimuli of my teacher and our weekly assignments. We explored unfamiliar (to me) materials and construction methods. Nowadays, I use neither the typical materials such as buckram or domette, nor the cut and sew methods of construction. Instead, I’ve chosen the wet-felting of Merino wool to be my basic material and my method of construction.  With each hat, I learn more. Yet, not surprisingly, there are gaps in my millinery knowledge. So, to increase my self-education, I’ve ordered a bit of unusual millinery supplies for new explorations.


Millinery supplies for new explorations: opening an exciting padded envelope


I selected JudithM Millinery because they don’t have a threshold for minimum orders. I don’t need to buy a boatload of unusual millinery supplies to learn. Only just a bit!  Perhaps one of these days I will explore sinamay and other fibrous materials that are used for summer hats. But, I wasn’t bold enough for that!

So what supplies did I select?

One of the unusual millinery supplies that I ordered was recommended by an online millinery colleague, Laura Whitlock, who has written a truly helpful series on keeping hats on heads – Part 1 and Part 2. When via Facebook,  Laura saw one of my hats all taped up with masking tape, she kindly mentioned a useful millinery supply – Wonder Clips. And while masking tape holds better than regular pins, clothes pins, paper clips or bulldog clips, (YES! I’ve tried these all before!), it’s rather unsustainable and wasteful. Can’t wait to use Wonder Clips next time I need to wire a hat brim.

Isn’t helpful how Pickles investigated the millinery supplies? Her tail gives an idea of scale.


Millinery supplies for new explorations: masking tape versus Wonder Clips!


Here’s a closeup. The clips are quite strong and are curved on one side and flat on the the other.


Millinery supplies for new explorations - closeup of a Wonder Clip.


In the past, I would shape the millinery wire to match the curve of the brim. Then,the wire would be hand sewn onto the edge using a modified blanket stitch, as recommended by Denise Dreher in From the Neck Up. The wires overlapped by two inches at the center back and were carefully bound together with white thread. All this takes a bit of time, of course! Awhile back, a felting friend from Norwich, Bridget O’Connell gave me a sample of wire joiners.  These pop onto the ends of the wires and are then crimped together. That seems much more efficient, so I added that to my order.


Unusual millinery supplies for new explorations - wire joiners.


Another unusual millinery supply is plastic brim lock wire. I find it ‘not cool’ when I use normal millinery wire, which is metal with cotton/rayon covering. Why? Because it’s not washable. A fantastical AND practical hat should be one that can cope with torrents of rain and gentle hand washing. So look forward to me figuring out how brim lock wire works in real life. Have read that they can be heat set, although am unsure how one points a 275 Fahrenheit heat gun to a felt hat. Wouldn’t something catch on fire?


Millinery supplies for new explorations - nylon plastic brimlock for wiring hat brims.


And while there are a few more supplies in the baggy, they will have to be shared another time. Hope that my package opening has not been too annoying. I can recall that it’s never fun watching someone else open presents when it isn’t your birthday. Humor me a little. Tuesday was my birthday.

If you have experience with plastic brim lock, or any of these unusual millinery supplies in your explorations, PLEASE share in the comments below.

2 Responses

  1. Rusty

    I’ve used Brimlock for a number of years. I’ve never used the metal connectors because i don’t trust them when wet not to rust. You can get light gauge extruded plastic tubing to create the connector. As far as heat treating the brim wire I’ve done some experiments in the oven and making a jig to hold the brim wire in the right shape. That being said, wool is naturally fire retardant. I wouldn’t put feathers or grosgrain in the oven, but your felt should be fine…test first of course. I believe that they recommend 12 minutes or something like that. The one drawback about Brimlock is that it has a bend or crease memory. If someone sits on their hat or folds it accidentally it is hard to remove the crease from the nylon brim wire.

    • jgorman

      Hello Rusty,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment about Brimlock. Using an oven sounds like the smartest thing – had not seen that as a way of heat setting, nor the time of 12 minutes. Creating a jig to hold the shape sounds quite sophisticated technically. My wood shop skills are minimal. But it seems like you believe that one might attach the Brimlock to the hat, put into the oven and then heat set it. Metal clips might work well for that (if they don’t leave marks). I usually sew wire on with poly or cotton thread…but maybe wool might work? Many thanks for the helpful ideas! Cheers,