How to Make Fabric Stiff

Written by ainsley patterson
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How to Make Fabric Stiff
Make your fabric stiff as paper, or give it just a little more structure. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Free up your fabric options for your next sewing or craft project by adding structure to your selected fabric. A flat piece of stiffened fabric allows you to decorate the front of a homemade card or scrapbook page. Fold the fabric before the stiffener dries to use for a piece of homemade jewellery or three-dimensional wall art. Fusible interfacings give fabric the structure needed to form hat brims or shirt collars. Varieties of properly stiffened fabric make your sewing and crafting possibilities almost limitless.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Waxed paper
  • Liquid fabric stiffener
  • Shallow bowl
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Scissors
  • Water spray bottle
  • Press cloth or scrap of muslin

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Instructions

    Non-Sewing Craft Projects

  1. 1

    Cover your work surface in waxed paper. Lay the paper down with the shiny side facing up.

  2. 2

    Pour the liquid stiffener into a shallow bowl. The amount you need depends on how much fabric you want to stiffen, but start with a small amount. You can add more stiffener to the bowl if necessary.

  3. 3

    Submerge the fabric in the stiffener. Completely coat both sides of the fabric with the stiffener. Wipe the excess stiffener off the fabric back into the bowl with your fingers. Do not wring out the fabric; you only want to remove the excess that would otherwise drip off.

  4. 4

    Lay the fabric on your waxed paper in whatever position you want it to stiffen into. You can lay it flat and smooth out wrinkles with your fingers to make it like a sheet of paper, or you can fold the fabric into a shape like origami.

  5. 5

    Let the fabric dry for 24 hours before removing it from the waxed paper. Scrap away any hardened pools of excess stiffener with your finger nail.

    Sewing Projects

  1. 1

    Cut a piece of fusible interfacing the shape and size necessary to stiffen the fabric piece. If using a pattern you usually cut the interfacing piece using the same pattern piece you used to cut the fabric piece.

  2. 2

    Lay the fabric piece with the wrong side facing up. Iron over the top of the fabric for a few seconds with your iron set to a medium heat setting with the steam function on to warm the fabric.

  3. 3

    Place the fusible interfacing with the resin side face down. The resin side is the rough side of the interfacing; it may also have a slight shine to it when held in the light. Smooth the interfacing over the top of the fabric with your hands so no wrinkles remain in the interfacing or the fabric underneath it.

  4. 4

    Spray the interfacing with a light mist of water just enough to dampen it. Cover the interfacing with a press cloth or scrap of muslin fabric. Spray the press cloth with a generous amount of water.

  5. 5

    Place the iron over the centre of the piece. Place both hands on the iron, and lean on it. Hold the iron there for 15 seconds, or the length of time recommended on your interfacing's packaging.

  6. 6

    Lift the iron up, and move it to to the right or left. Put it down so it half overlaps the area you just pressed, and repeat the pressing process. Continue the press the rest of the piece the same way to adhere the whole piece of interfacing to the fabric. Let the fabric piece cool completely.

  7. 7

    Place the press cloth down over your ironing surface. Flip the fabric piece over, and press it again from the fabric side to reinforce the bond between interfacing and fabric. Let it cool completely again before moving it.

Tips and warnings

  • Woven and non-woven interfacing comes in a variety of weights ranging from featherweight to heavyweight. A lightweight or mediumweight interfacing will make fabric just slightly more stiff giving it a little structure like a shirt collar. A heavyweight interfacing will make the fabric stiff like paper or cardboard, suitable for hat brims or a sturdy tote bag.
  • Knit fabrics require a knit interfacing that will stretch along with the fabric if you don't want to lose any of the fabric's stretch. You can also use a woven interfacing with a knit to prevent excess stretching, but must cut the interfacing on the bias to allow the knit to keep some of its stretching ability.
  • Use woven or non-woven interfacings with woven fabrics if you don't need the interfacing to stretch. Non-woven interfacing has a little give in all directions, but won't stretch. Woven interfacing usually requires you to cut it on the same grain as you cut your fabric, and will have give if cut on the bias. You can use a knit interfacing with woven fabric if you need the interfacing to stretch.
  • Choose an interfacing that has the same care directions as the fabric you will adhere it to.
  • Select a light-coloured interfacing for light-coloured fabrics, and a dark-coloured interfacing for dark fabrics.
  • Patterns that call for interfacing will tell you which type of interfacing to buy.

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