This tutorial will show you how to stiffen fabric. On the sewing scene, there are interfacings and stiffening agents to help this process. Crafts that use fabric will also gain some assistance with spray or hand-applied liquid stiffeners. Fabric stiffening often involves a bit of experimentation to get the best result.
How to Stiffen Fabric Tutorial
Stiffening fabric allows it to hold its shape better. This may be for a subtle effect under a petticoat or a dramatic look for your latest crafting project.
When stiffening fabric for sewing projects, it is common to use interfacing or boning. Craft projects can be stiffened with sprays that consist of flue, starch, gelatine, or commercial projects such as modge-podge. Some stiffening agents will be permanent, while others will come out in the wash.
What is Fabric Stiffener
A fabric stiffener is a product or solution that holds the fabric in place, giving it a 3-dimensional look. It can be used for sewing, crafts and art sculptures.
Craft Fabric Stiffening Ideas
Unleash your imagination and try different ideas for using fabric and stiffening agents.
- Lacework and doilies make great craft items using a stiffening agent and a mold, such as an upturned bowl.
- Unusual flowers can be molded out of burlap and sealed with a stiffening agent.
- Hats can be made by stiffening fabric and felt.
- Skirts can be stiffened with the use of interfacing or searching.
- Ribbons can be stiffened for crafts like wreath making.
How to Stiffen Fabric for Sewing
Stiffening when sewing is useful for collars, cuffs, facings, tabs, and openings. In fact, any area that would hold and hang better with some stiffness. The stiffening used can be fusible or sewn in and known as interfacing. Read more about the types of interfacing for sewing.
Your sewing patterns will generally recommend the pieces that need interfacing, but you may have a personal choice to use them in different places. Always try the interfacing out on a scrap before you sew it on your garment.
Sewing stiffeners have an advantage over many of the crafting spray methods in that both interfacing and boning will remain even after washing. This makes them a great permanent solution.
How to Stiffen Fabric for Craft and Costuming
Crafting with fabrics has become more popular as people realize what a great medium fabric is to work with. In addition, the stiffening of lace is often used in historical costumes.
There are commercial stiffening agents available that spray on and keep the fabric stiff while you work with the sculpture or craft of your choice. Then there are suggestions for DIY stiffening liquids that can be applied to the fabric while it is either molded or simply cut and held in place.
Some stiffening agents are used to give the fabric more permanence at the time of cutting and then washed away. Others of the more permanent variety stay on the molded craft and keep their shape.
This article will give you 3 DIY fabric stiffener recipe methods for crafting. These common methods and recipes use common household ingredients.
Always test any stiffening solutions on a scrap of fabric first. It will likely change the fabric color slightly. You may also want to wash your scrap to see what happens.
6 Ways to Stiffen Fabric at Home
1. How to Stiffen Fabric with Interfacing
There are various types of interfacing and also different weights and sizes. Check your local haberdashery and become familiar with what is available.
Fusible interfacing has a shiny film on one side of the web that indicates the adhesive side. Interfacing can be woven and made of fabric or synthetic. It comes in yardage, strips, or pre-packed pieces, so choose the type suitable to your pattern.
Two-sided fusible interfacing can be used to fuse two pieces of fabric together for applique.
Fabric Stiffening with Fusible Interfacing
It is very important to wash your fabric BEFORE adding the interfacing so that any shrinkage that may take place has been done so before adding the interfacing. Otherwise, the fabric and interfacing will shrink at different rates and cause wrinkles in your interfaced piece.
Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to press the fusible side of the web on the wrong side of your fabric. Be sure to try out the product on a scrap before using it on the real garment. It is also important to remember to use a presser cloth to prevent the fusible interfacing from sticking to your iron.
Non-fusible Interfacing (Sew-in) to Stiffen Fabric
Non-fusible interfacing needs to be cut the same size as the pattern piece and sewn in. The non-fusible interfacing is stitched slightly above or outside the seam allowance to secure it. When the garment is sewn, the seam stitching falls just below the interfacing line.
2. How to Stiffen Fabric with Boning
Boning, or inserting plastic stays into bodices and other tight-fitting garments and corsets, was the method used to strap a lady into her garment in the days of flowing dresses and tightly fitting gowns. Today boning is still a preferred way to stiffen a ball gown or dance outfit, or even a bridal gown.
On stage and screen, it has its place, but the everyday wardrobe is hardly the place for boned garments.
3. How to Stiffen Fabric with Glue Recipe
Make your own fabric stiffener solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of wood glue (PVA glue) with 1 cup of water and brush on or spray where necessary. Other clear glues, such as Elmer's glue, can also be used. Mold your fabric to shape and dry.
If you require a stiffer finish, you may increase the amount of glue substantially. A really stiff and permanent result can be achieved with equal parts of glue and water.
4. How to Stiffen Fabric with Starch
Mix 1 tablespoon of starch or corn flour and 2 cups of water. Mix well and remove all lumps so it is a smooth consistency.
This solution can be put in a spray bottle and sprayed over your fabric. Alternatively, you can soak the fabric in this solution. Once again, test your solution and add more starch if needed.
5. How to Stiffen Fabric with Gelatine
This works well with chiffons and silky fabrics where you need gentle non-permanent stiffening.
Take 1 teaspoon of gelatine to 2 cups of tap water and leave to settle for 30 minutes. Add 4 cups of hot water to complete the mixture.
Dip whole pieces of fabric into the solution, mold them into the desired shape, and hang them out to dry. The fabric will now be stiffer and easier to work, and then on completion of the project, the stiffening can be rinsed out, and the fabric returned to normal.
6. How to Stiffen Fabric with Commercial Stiffeners
There are several commercial products on the market to help you stiffen fabric for crafts. The advantage of commercial spray stiffeners is convenience, but the cost can increase dramatically if you are doing larger volumes of fabric.
Some of these are:
- Mod Podge Stiffy
- Aleenes Fabric Stiffener & Draping Liquid
- Plaid Stiffy Fabric Stiffener
- Beacon Stiffen Stuff
Stiffen Fabric FAQs
How to Stiffen Fabric with Spray
You can mix glue and water and put them in a spray bottle or purchase commercial stiffener sprays such as Aleene's Stiffen Quick. The advantage of using a spray method is that it is quicker and has less drying time. Always spray outside in a well-ventilated area, as there will be excess glue and overspray.
What is Stiffening Fabric Called?
The fabric used to stiffen fabric is called interfacing. It can have heat-activated fusible glue on one or both sides or be the type that you sew in. Sewing interfacing comes in various thicknesses for different applications. It is predominantly white or black.
Does Hairspray Make Fabric Stiff?
While spray hairspray can certainly make the fabric stiffer, you will not get lasting or dramatic results. Always spray a test section first to make sure it does not leave a stain.
What is the Best Fabric Stiffener?
The answer to this question depends on whether you require a permanent or temporary solution, as well as whether you will be sewing or crafting with the fabric. My preference is to use interfacing for sewing projects and a glue solution for craft projects.
Does Modge Podge Harden Fabric?
Modge Podge Stiffy does harden fabrics such as cotton, laces, and ribbons when applied correctly. This is a different product from the regular Modge Podge, which is used for decoupage. It is specially manufactured to stiffen fabric and can be painted on, or you can soak your item in a bowl of it.
How to Stiffen Fabric - In Conclusion
As you can see, there are many ways how to stiffen fabric using DIY methods. Try using different stiffening agents, either store-bought or homemade, to add cutting-edge finishes to your sewing repertoire.