Stiffening Techniques for Crochet Decorations

There are many pre-made fabric stiffeners available for purchase in various craft stores, such as Michael’s, Walmart, or Joann Fabric Stores, but I would like to share a few of my favorite recipes that you can easily use at home to make your own fabric stiffener. You will only need one of these 3 main ingredients:

  • Corn, Potato, Wheat, or other Starch (sold in Bulk Barn & grocery stores)
  • Gelatine Unflavored (sold in Bulk Barn & grocery stores)
  • Non-Toxic White School Glue, or any other PVA (Polyvinyl Acetates) based glue (sold in Stationery & Back to School aisle)

You will also need:

  • Water
  • Cloth Towel
  • 2 Bowls
  • Small Pot (for Gelatine & Starch stiffeners only)
  • Kitchen Stove (for Gelatine & Starch stiffeners only)
  • Rust-Proof Pins (minimum 6-12 pins per snowflake, some snowflakes may take 18 or more pins)
  • Blocking Board or Styrofoam Board (you may also use a regular piece of cardboard covered with a thin clear plastic bag for protection)

Homemade and ready to use fabric stiffeners To begin, prepare your crochet Snowflakes, Doily Bowls, or other decorations for stiffening. Our 12 Snowflakes for Christmas Pattern update has just been published at IraRott.com, so you can make a beautiful set of 12 snowflakes using this FREE IraRott® Pattern.

 Christmas Snowflakes Crochet Pattern

FREE IraRott® Snowflakes Pattern

STIFFENING with STARCH:

Use any type of Starch for this recipe, for example – corn, potato, or wheat based starch. This recipe is for Hard Stiffening (best for snowflakes, crowns, & other shaped decorations); it will make the fabric structure super hard so it will hold the desired shape. TIP: You can also reduce the amount of starch in half to make a Medium Stiffener for doilies or collars.

  1. Dissolve 3 Tbs of Starch in 1/2 cup of COLD water.
  2. The mixture will look solid white, much like milk.
  3. Boil 3 cups of water in a pot & slowly add your starch mixture to the boiling water, STIRRING constantly (to avoid lumps) for 40-60 sec until it looks clear & remove from the heat at the boiling point.
  4. Pour the stiffener from the hot pot into a bowl & keep stirring it from time to time until it cools down to 90F-100F (or to a comfortable temperature for your hands). The stirring process will prevent a thin film appearing on the top of the mixture & will also help to cool it down faster. Your starch stiffener is now ready to use & should look slightly creamy (whitish-silver color) with a consistency of a cough syrup, that looks much like Buckley’s 🙂 . It may be more or less transparent, depending on the starch type you’ve used.
  5. Soak your crochet snowflakes in the stiffener for 2-5 min. TIP: Prepare a bowl with warm water and have a cloth towel handy to keep your fingers clean while blocking, as they will get sticky and a little slimy from the solution.
  6. Remove your snowflakes one-by-one from the stiffener, squeezing the extra liquid out of the snowflakes.
  7. Stretch & pin your snowflakes onto the blocking board, rinsing your hands in a bowl of water when necessary. Allow to dry & then carefully peel the snowflakes from the board. It may take up to 24 hours to dry at room temperature or just a few hours in the sun 🙂 .

Starch stiffening starch stiffening starch stiffening

STIFFENING with GELATINE:

Be sure to use a regular UNFLAVORED Gelatine for this recipe. I love to shop in Bulk Barn stores, where you can find almost everything, including unflavored gelatine 🙂 . This recipe is for Hard Stiffening (best for snowflakes, crowns, & other shaped decorations); it will make the fabric structure very hard so it will hold the desired shape. TIP: You can also reduce the amount of gelatine in half to make a Medium Stiffener for doilies or collars.

  1. Put 2 Tbs of Unflavored Gelatine in a bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of COLD water to the bowl with Gelatine.
  3. Mix granules gently with your fingers to make sure that they all are covered in water & there are no lumps in the mixture. Let it soak 10-15 min until gelatine absorbs the moisture & is translucent.
  4. Boil 2 cups of water in a pot & slowly add your gelatine mixture to the boiling water.
  5. Stir quickly over the heat until gelatine is dissolved (approx 5-10 sec) & remove from heat (no need to bring it to boil again). The consistency of the solution will be thin & watery (like an apple juice) with a slightly yellow color accent, but not to worry – it won’t change the color of your fabric.
  6. Pour the solution from the hot pot into a bowl & let it cool down to 90F-100F (or to a comfortable temperature for your hands). Your gelatine stiffener is now ready to be used! Soak your crochet snowflakes in the stiffener for 2-5 min. TIP: Prepare a bowl with warm water and have a cloth towel handy to keep your fingers clean while blocking, as they will get very sticky from the solution.
  7. Remove your snowflakes one-by-one from the stiffener, squeezing the extra liquid out of the snowflakes. Stretch & pin your snowflakes onto the blocking board, rinsing your hands in a bowl of water when necessary. Allow to dry & then carefully peel the snowflakes from the board. It may take up to 24 hours to dry at room temperature or just a few hours in the sun.

gelatine stiffening 1 gelatine stiffening 2 gelatine stiffening 3

STIFFENING with GLUE:

Use a Non-Toxic White School Glue, or any other PVA (Polyvinyl Acetates) based glue. This recipe is for Hard Stiffening (best for snowflakes, crowns, & other shaped decorations); which will make your fabric structure hard “as a rock” so it will hold the desired shape. NOTE: This method is not recommended for medium or light stiffening & can only be used with white or light color fabrics, as it may whiten the original color.

  1. Prepare an equal amount of Glue & Cold Water (I used a small 100 gr cup for measuring).
  2. Pour cold water into a bowl & then add the same amount of glue to the water.
  3. Mix all until the consistency is smooth & even. The mixture will turn out solid white with a consistency of buttermilk & will feel slimy on your fingers.
  4. Soak your crochet snowflakes in the stiffener for 2-5 min. TIP: Prepare a bowl with warm water and have a cloth towel handy to keep your fingers clean while blocking, as they will get sticky & slimy from the solution.
  5. Remove your snowflakes one-by-one from the stiffener, squeezing the extra liquid out of the snowflakes. Stretch & pin your snowflakes onto the blocking board, rinsing your hands in a bowl of water when necessary. Allow to dry & then carefully peel the snowflakes from the board. It may take up to 24 hours to dry at room temperature or just a few hours in the sun.

NOTE: It might be slightly unpleasant to work with glue due to its slimy texture, but as a result, you will get super stiff snowflakes (hard “as a rock”) with a beautiful crochet structure that looks almost as they were made of plastic.

grue stiffening 1 glue stiffening 2 glue stiffening 3

Thank you for reading this tutorial, I hope you enjoy making your own fabric stiffener with one of our easy recipes 🙂 & please do not forget to download our >> FREE Snowflakes Pattern << 🙂

Christmas Crochet Snowflakes Pattern

FREE IraRott® Snowflakes Pattern

Free IraRott Holiday Snowflake Pattern

FREE IraRott® Snowflakes Pattern

24 comments

  1. jmdenison says:

    commercial stiffeners are best. anything starch will get eaten by bugs over time. plus, a dog will think it tasty too.
    plastic stiffeners I have found work the best. Leave the school glue and starch and cornstarch to school kids.
    this is funny. once I made one of those volcanoes for a school project with my kids out of flour, corn starch and white glue paper mache. by the end of summer, moths and bugs had eaten so much of it, it literally fell apart. that’s when I learned that the professional stuff is a necessity. I think I once made snowflake with cornstarch the dog gobbled up right away. never found a trace of it.

    • IraRott says:

      No problem, I am glad you found a method you like 🙂 These are just alternative cost-effective recipes that I love and haven’t had any issues with. I try to avoid stiffening with sugar though, that’s why I did not include it in my list. I hope you enjoy your summer 🙂

  2. Catherine Eddy says:

    I always use sugar . I have a hugh amount to starch now. I have loads of snowflakes now I will crochet yours also.. I am happy to see all your different ways to starch. You are never to old to learn something new. I am 75 and I do a lot of christmas ornaments for my nieces and nephews. Thanks so much. ! mix 1 cup of sugar to 1 and a quarter cups of water. I bring it to a boil then count to sixty then I remove it. LOL sounds silly but it has worked for me all my life and I started crocheting at 18 years old.

  3. Kay Knight says:

    Thanks so much for all this info. Have been having trouble getting my snowflakes stiff enough. Will try your glue method.

  4. rose says:

    Hi ! Thanks for this, I was wondering if the pva glue version would work if you wrapped your snowflakes around a small balloon to make a bauble then popped the balloon when they are dry?

  5. melanie britton says:

    Which method would give the stiffest results and not mute the color of the thread, in your opinion. I used “Stiffy” brand on a crown and it changed the color somewhat. Any insight would be appreciated.

    • IraRott says:

      Hi Melanie, I have tested all the options listed in this article and they all worked great for me, no color changes. I think my favorite stiffening method was using gelatine.

  6. sharon maiser says:

    Hi I am making flower girl baskets.I first tried Mod Podge Fabric stiffener and my lace turned yellow. I am now trying sugar starch, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water cooked on low until dissolved. We’ll see. Any idea’s on a product that won’t yellow my white baskets?

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