Crochet, Tutorials

Stiffening Techniques for Crochet Decorations

There are many pre-made fabric stiffeners available on the market (like Mod Podge or API Fabric Stiffener), but I would also like to share a few of my favorite recipes that you can easily prepare at home to make your own fabric stiffener.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions for the purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.

You will only need one of the following ingredients:

  • Corn, Potato, Wheat, or other Starch
  • Gelatine Unflavored
  • Non-Toxic White School Glue, or any other PVA (Polyvinyl Acetates) based glue

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. You can make a set of 12 snowflakes using my FREE crochet pattern.

 Christmas Snowflakes Crochet Pattern
FREE IraRott® Snowflakes Pattern

STIFFENING with STARCH:

Use any starch you have in your kitchen – corn, potato, or wheat based starch are the best. This recipe is for Hard Stiffening (best for snowflakes, crowns, and other shaped decorations); it will make the fabric very stiff to 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. This recipe is for Hard Stiffening (best for snowflakes, crowns, and other shaped decorations); it will make the fabric very stiff to 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, and other shaped decorations); it will make the fabric very stiff to 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 these easy recipes.

FREE Snowflakes Pattern

Christmas Crochet Snowflakes Pattern
FREE IraRott® Snowflakes Pattern