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How to stiffen burlap fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

Burlap is a coarse, brown fabric used traditionally to make sacks. It a flexible fabric that does not have much stiffness of its own. If you have some burlap that you want to stiffen, you can use commonly-available spray starch to do the job. Starch is a traditional (though now less-used) way to add stiffness to fabric. You can find spray starch at any hardware store. The added stiffness will allow you to shape the burlap more precisely for use in crafts or costume garments.

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  1. Spray the burlap with starch until saturated.

  2. Place an old sheet on the ironing board to absorb excess starch and to prevent creating a dark spot on the ironing board.

  3. Press the burlap with the iron on the "Cotton" setting. Do not iron in a rubbing motion; instead, press directly down onto the fabric. Allow the starch to steam but not to burn. The starching process is complete when the burlap is dry and stiff.

  4. Tip

    Use a diluted spray during pressing to add extra starch to the burlap. This will result in a stiffer fabric.


    Do not store starched fabric; use it right away. Starch is a food sugar that can attract pests.

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Things You'll Need

  • Spray starch
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Old sheet

About the Author

Bob Romanov has been writing since 1990, specializing in music technology and video games. He makes music professionally and has built several of his own electronic instruments. He is an authority on all kinds of video games, from vintage Atari 2600 to the newest generation of console and PC games. Romanov holds a bachelor's degree from Goddard College.

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