How to harden fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

People usually value fabric for its softness, plushness or silky quality against their skin. However, these characteristics aren't as valuable during certain craft projects. For example, if you're making fabric jewellery or creating displays with fabric, you'll need fabric you can add body to, or can arrange to hold a particular shape. One of the easiest ways to harden fabric is to spray the fabric with a commercially made fabric stiffener. Another alternative is to make your own fabric hardener.

Measure an amount of water that reflects that amount of fabric stiffener you'd like to make. For a small project, a cup of water is plenty; for a larger project a litre of water will usually suffice. Pour the water into a pot.

Place the pot on the stove over low heat. Add to the pot an amount of sugar equal to the amount of water.

Raise the heat on the stove to high and place the lid on the pot. Allow the two ingredients to reach a boil and then cool. Submerge the fabric you wish to harden in the liquid and then arrange in the desired shape. You may also first arrange the fabric in its desired shape, dip a paint brush in the liquid, and paint on the hardener.

Pour basic white craft glue into a large container. Determine how much fabric stiffener you need to make, and measure out half that amount of glue. Small projects need anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of glue; larger projects need around 1 cup of glue.

Add an equal amount of cold water to the container.

Mix the two ingredients vigorously until you have a diluted white paste. Dip a paint brush into the substance to apply this homemade hardener to fabric.


Store leftover hardener in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Pot with lid
  • White craft glue
  • Container
  • Stir stick
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About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."