Glues for Hat Making: 5 Adhesives to Keep in Your Millinery Studio

To glue or not to glue….

Glue can be a taboo subject in millinery. As milliners, we want our work to be completely handmade and preferably hand sewn. This level of workmanship and detail is what sets handmade work apart from imports and mass production pieces. But when is it okay, or even necessary, to use glue and what kind of glue should be used?

Sometimes using glue is just something you must do to work with a specific hat making material. Read on for a rundown of 5 different types of glue that I like to keep on hand when I’m making hats and millinery trimmings.

5 Glues for Hat Making and Millinery Projects

1) UHU Glue

If you are a European or Australian milliner, the most common glue to use is UHU. It comes in a tube and is clear, with great adhesion to multiple surfaces. It also dries relatively quickly. Unfortunately, if you live in the USA, it can be hard to find in the tube form. Plus, using a tube of glue can be messy, as the glue tends to keep coming out of the tube after pressure is applied. For a cleaner application, try dispersing a little glue into a small cup and using a toothpick or brush to apply.

Glues for Millinery - UHU
2) Helmar 450 Quick Dry Adhesive

I use a similar glue called Helmar 450 Quick Dry Adhesive in place of UHU. It comes in a bottle with a nozzle tip which I like because you get a little more control over the glue. Once the bottle starts getting low, though, you end up having to wait for the glue to get to the tip. When this starts to happen, it is a good idea to invert the bottle and store it in a cup or drinking glass (with the nozzle closed, of course). Then it will be ready to go next time you need glue. I use this glue most often for tacking the linings of my hats under the Petersham band.

3) Sobo Glue

Silk French flower making is based on stiffening fabrics with glues. You will see both hard and soft PVA glues referred to in flower making tutorials. Soft glues are less thick and take longer to dry than hard glues. PVA is also used as a stiffener, so you may have some in your studio already. Flower making is a highly specialized skill, so you can also find glues specifically made for this purpose, mainly from Japan. Because I am an occasional fabric flower maker, I use Delta Sobo Craft and Fabric Glue. It is thick and dries quickly and clear.

Glues for Millinery
4) Nori

A glue I have recently started using is a rice paste adhesive called Nori. It is an acid-free paste that comes in a jar, so it is easy to brush onto surfaces. I like using this when pasting feathers to cover a surface. It is also clear and quick drying.

5) Hot Glue

In my opinion, even a hot glue gun has its place in a millinery studio. I use hot glue on my feather flowers. The glue is strong and fast setting, which is important when you have hundreds of feathers to mount and want to create a gravity-defying effect. Using a higher quality craft glue stick will help cut down on the stringiness. Uhu and other glues are suitable for feather flowers as well, but you may have to hold the pieces longer while drying or use a prop to hold them while they set.

Do you use any special glues for hat making? If so, what types do you like best? Leave a comment below to let us know!

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Covering a Headband