How to Stiffen Material

Updated February 21, 2017

Use liquid starch to stiffen fabric for doilies, window shades or lampshades. You can even make wallpaper by coating fabric with liquid starch and smoothing it onto walls. Homemakers once used liquid starch to stiffen shirt collars and ruffled curtains. The starch goes on wet and dries to a crisp, stiff finish. If the fabric becomes wet, it will lose its stiffness. Fabric may also become limp with repeated use, which wears the starch away. You can refresh the stiffness by dipping it in starch again.

Make a solution of liquid starch. Consult the bottle or box of starch for mixing directions. Some brands require you to dilute the starch with water, while others will tell you to use the starch full strength. Pour your starch solution into a container large enough for you to completely submerge your fabric. If this is not practical, fill a spray bottle with the starch.

Dip fabric in starch or spray with starch until the material is complete saturated. Do not wring out the excess starch.

Lay the dipped fabric onto a towel and blot with a second towel to remove excess liquid. Use straight pins to hold the fabric in shape if necessary, such as when you are starching a doily.

Lay the fabric flat to dry. If necessary, iron the fabric once it is dry to remove wrinkles, but avoid using steam, as this may cause the starch to relax.


Repeat the dipping process until the fabric reaches the desired stiffness.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid starch
  • Water
  • Bucket or bowl
  • Spray bottle
  • Towels
  • Straight pins
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About the Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.