How to Stiffen a Cloth

Updated February 21, 2017

Liquid fabric stabiliser can stiffen fabric enough to "freeze" it into a solid shape. Some liquid stiffeners are strong enough to allow you to shape furniture from fabric. Starch is the most common fabric stiffener; it is usually used to stiffen garments. Interfacing stiffens fabric and gives it the properties of a heavier fabric. You can use iron-on interfacing to make T-shirts stiff enough to use in a quilt or gingham strong enough to be made into a purse. Sew-in interfacing stiffens a garment, while iron-on interfacing stiffens the fabric itself.

Create a form to shape your fabric. An upside down bowl is a good form for making a fabric bowl. Cover the form with cling film.

Measure the form from the bottom edge on one side, over the top, to the bottom edge on the other side. Cut a circle of thin fabric with this diameter.

Pour fabric stiffener into a disposable bowl and submerge the circle of fabric in the stiffener. Remove the fabric and gently squeeze it to remove excess stiffener. Fabric stiffener is available at craft stores.

Drape the fabric evenly over the form and smooth the fabric down into even pleats.

Allow the fabric to dry for 18 hours or the amount of time recommended in the instructions.

When the fabric is dry and stiff, lift it off the bowl and pull out the cling film.

Cut the interfacing the same size as the fabric. Place your pattern on the wrong side of the fabric and on the uncoated side of the interfacing.

Place the fabric on the ironing board with the right side of the fabric down.

Place the interfacing on top of the fabric with the coated side down.

Set the heat setting on the iron to medium or the setting recommended in the instructions for your interfacing.

Wet a press cloth or a piece of thin fabric, and wring it out well. Place it over the interfacing.

Press each section of the interfacing for 10 seconds or the amount of time recommended in the instructions for your interfacing. Wet and wring out the cloth as needed to keep it damp.

Check to be sure the interfacing has bonded with the fabric. Iron any loose sections again.


Use larger and smaller forms and forms of different shapes to create a variety of objects. Use very thin fabric that will mould easily with liquid fabric stiffener.


Protect your work surface when crafting with liquid fabric stabiliser. Use brown paper; the ink in newspaper may come off on the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl or other frame
  • Cling film
  • Tape measure
  • Thin fabric
  • Liquid fabric stabiliser
  • Disposable bowl
  • Iron-on interfacing
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Press cloth or thin cotton cloth
  • Ironing board
  • Iron
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About the Author

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.