How to Make Cloth Stiff

Written by amy lyn
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How to Make Cloth Stiff
Use stiffener to make a giant bow that will keep its shape. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

There are a few different ways to stiffen cloth, but the method you choose depends on what you're are using the cloth for. If you are working on a craft project like scrapbooking or making cards, where you want to be able to use your fabric like you would paper, a liquid fabric stiffener is your best option. Liquid fabric stiffener is also good for forming your fabrics into specific shapes like giant bows or spooky ghosts.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Waxed paper or trash bag
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Shallow tray
  • Liquid fabric stiffener
  • Bowl
  • Paint brush

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  1. 1

    Cover your work surface with waxed paper or a trash bag that's cut open and spread flat; tape down. Although liquid fabric stiffener is washable, it will dry hard on your table and be very difficult to remove if not cleaned up when wet. In addition, it's easy to peel dried fabric pieces from the waxed paper or plastic bag.

  2. 2

    Cut your fabric to the size you want. If you're working with smaller pieces like ribbons or strips, you can just dip into the liquid. For larger pieces, you'll want to paint them.

  3. 3

    Lay a piece of cut fabric flat in the shallow tray and paint fabric stiffener onto the piece of fabric coating the entire surface. You want the piece of fabric to be completely saturated with the stiffener, but not soaking wet and dripping.

  4. 4

    Dip a strip or smaller piece of fabric in the bowl of stiffener. Pull between your fingers to remove the excess liquid.

  5. 5

    Remove the coated piece and lay flat to dry on your covered work surface, or drape or wrap around a form like a can or a bowl to give it shape. It should take about one hour, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Tips and warnings

  • Cans make good forms to use to make big bows.
  • Wear old clothes when working with stiffener. If you do get any on your clothes, wash it out right away before it hardens.

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