How to toughen fabrics for sewing and crafts (2023)

Give your stuff the “stiff upper lip” and get ready to have the best product that comes with to stiffen the fabric.In the sewing scene, there are interlinings and reinforcements that help in this process. Crafts that use fabric are also favored by hand-applied or spray-on liquid reinforcements. A little experimentation and the process is easy.

How to toughen fabrics for sewing and crafts (1)


  • How to stiffen fabric for sewing
    • How to stiffen fabrics with fleece
    • How to stiffen fabrics with chopsticks
  • How to toughen fabrics for crafts and costumes
    • Ideas to toughen handmade fabrics
    • How To Stiffen Fabric: DIY Fabric Stiffen Recipe Methods
    • To stiffen the fabric: commercially available stiffeners
  • Frequently asked questions about rigid fabrics
    • How to harden fabrics with spray
    • What is the reinforcement fabric called?
    • Does hairspray harden fabric?
  • How to stiffen the fabric - to finish

How to stiffen fabric for sewing

Hardening as you sew is useful for collars, cuffs, linings, lapels, and slits. In fact, any area that will hold up and hang better with some stiffness. The reinforcement used can be fusible or sewn and known asInterface.

Your sewing standards will usually recommend which parts need stabilizer, but you may have personal choices for using stabilizer in different places. Always test stabilizer on a piece of fabric before sewing your garment.

How to stiffen fabrics with fleece

There are different types of interfaces and also different weights and sizes. Visit your local haberdashery and familiarize yourself with what is on offer.

The fusible interface has a glossy film on one side of the panel indicating the sticky side. The pad can be woven and made of cloth or synthetic. It's available by the yard, strips, or pre-packaged pieces, so choose the type that matches your pattern. The two-sided fusible interface can be used to fuse two pieces of appliqué fabric together.

(Video) How to STIFFEN BURLAP | $1 QUICK and EASY Dollar Tree DIY

Further reading:interface types

Interface backup:

It's very importantwash your clothBEFORE adding stabilizer so any shrinkage that may occur is done before adding stabilizer. Otherwise, the fabric and batting will shrink at different rates, causing wrinkles in the batting.

Then, follow the manufacturer's instructions to iron the fusible side of the fabric to the wrong side of the fabric. Be sure to test the product on scrap before using it on actual clothing. Also remember to use an ironing cloth to prevent the iron-on pad from sticking to the iron.

backless Insert also known as 'Sew-on':

The non-fusible batting must be cut to the same size as the pattern and sewn. Non-fusible batting is sewn slightly above or outside of theSewTo protect you When the garment is sewn, the seam falls just below the batting line.

Further reading:interface types

How to toughen fabrics for sewing and crafts (2)

How to stiffen fabrics with chopsticks

Boning or inserting plastic corsets into bodices and other form-fitting clothing and corsets was the method used to tie a lady into her outfit in the days of form-fitting, flowing dresses. Even today, boning is the preferred method of toughening up a prom or prom outfit, or even a wedding dress.


It has its place on stage and screen, but the everyday wardrobe is not the place for boneless clothing.

How to toughen fabrics for sewing and crafts (3)

How to toughen fabrics for crafts and costumes

Fabric crafting has become more and more popular as people realize that it is a great fabric to work with. Lace gusset is also often used in period costumes.

Commercial hardeners are available that are sprayed onto the fabric and hold it rigid while you work on the carving or craft of your choice. Then there are suggestions for DIY curing liquids that can be applied to the fabric as it is being shaped, or simply cut and held in place.

Some reinforcements are used to give the fabric more durability when cut and after washing. Others, of the more permanent variety, remain in the formed container and retain their shape.

Ideas to toughen handmade fabrics

  • Lace and napkins are excellent crafts with a stiffener and an inverted bowl shape.
  • Unusual flowers can be formed from burlap and sealed with a hardener.

Let your imagination run wild and experiment with different ideas with fabrics and reinforcements.

How To Stiffen Fabric: DIY Fabric Stiffen Recipe Methods

These common methods and recipes use common household ingredients.

How to harden fabric with glue recipe

Make your own solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of wood glue (PVA glue) in 1 cup of water and brushing if necessary. Other transparent adhesives such as Elmer's adhesive can also be used. Shape and dry your fabric.

If you need a stiffer finish, you can significantly increase the amount of glue. A truly rigid and permanent result can be achieved with equal parts glue and water.

(Video) How to Sew With Thick Layers of Fabric - Multiple Layers

How to stiffen fabric with starch

Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or flour and 2 cups of water. Mix well and remove any lumps so that you have a smooth consistency.

This solution can be placed in a spray bottle and sprayed onto the fabric. Alternatively, you can soak the fabric in this solution. Taste your solution again and add more starch if necessary.

How to harden tissue with gelatin

This works well with chiffon and silky fabrics where a soft, non-permanent hold is needed.

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 2 cups of tap water and let sit for 30 minutes. Add 4 cups of hot water to complete the mixture.

Dip whole pieces of fabric into the solution, shape them into the desired shape, and hang to dry. The fabric is now stiffer and easier to work with and when the project is complete the stiffening can be rinsed away and the fabric is back to normal.

To stiffen the fabric: commercially available stiffeners

There are several commercial products on the market that will help you stiffen your craft fabrics. The benefit of commercial spray-on underlays is convenience, but the cost can increase dramatically when making large batches of fabric.

Some of them are:

  • Mod Podge Stiffy
  • Aleene Drapery and Fabric Reinforcement Fluid
  • Checked rigid fabric reinforcement
  • Headlight Reinforcement Material

Frequently asked questions about rigid fabrics

How to harden fabrics with spray

You can mix glue and water and pour it into a spray bottle, or buy commercial spray hardeners like Aleene's Stiffen Quick. The advantage of the spray method is that it is faster and requires less drying time. Always spray in a well ventilated area due to the presence of adhesive and overspray.

(Video) Spunbond™ - Tough, flexible, affordable fabric for sewing and crafting!

What is the reinforcement fabric called?

The cloth used to stiffen the cloth is called stabilizer. It may have heat-activated hot melt adhesive on one or both sides, or it may be the type that you sew on. Fleece sewn in different thicknesses for different applications. It is predominantly black or white.

Does hairspray harden fabric?

While hairspray can certainly stiffen fabric, it won't get long-lasting or dramatic results. Always spray a test section first to ensure you don't leave a stain.

How to stiffen the fabric - to finish

As you can see, there are many ways to stiffen fabric. Try different reinforcements, store-bought or homemade, to add high-quality finishes to your sewing repertoire.


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(Video) How to stiffen felt for quiet book - this is so quick and easy!


Does Mod Podge harden fabric? ›

This unique fabric glue stiffener is perfect for stiffening a variety of fabric arts and crafts. Mod Podge Stiffy makes fabric less flexible and can be applied directly onto all types of fabric surfaces such as cotton, cheesecloth, burlap, gauze, laces, ribbons, needlework, and felt.

Can cornstarch stiffen fabric? ›

Mix together the following: 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon white flour and 10 tablespoons table salt. Put this to boil, stirring constantly. This makes for a nice stiffener for fabric.

Is there a spray to stiffen fabric? ›

Aleene's Stiffen-Quik Fabric Stiffening Spray comes in a convenient spray bottle for quick and easy application! The spray pump helps minimize messes and prevents overusing the adhesive so you get the most out of your bottle.

Does hairspray stiffen fabric? ›

Hairspray. Hairspray is an inexpensive and effective substitution for fabric stiffener. You can use any kind of hairspray on fabric but an aerosol rather than a spray pump will more evenly distribute the hairspray across the fabric.

How do you stiffen fabric for sewing? ›

2 cups of water, add a teaspoon gelatin and let stand for 30 minutes. After a few minutes add 4 cups of hot water and your mixture will be complete. Once you have completed your solution, soak the cloth in the solution and hang to dry. After drying, your fabric will be stiffer and you can easily work on it.

Can you use regular Mod Podge to stiffen fabric? ›

Can you use Mod Podge as fabric stiffener? You can! I've done bowls, eggs, etc. with just regular Mod Podge (like Gloss).

What is the best homemade fabric stiffener? ›

Mix 1 tablespoon of starch or corn flour and 2 cups of water. Mix well and remove all lumps so it is a smooth consistency. This solution can be put in a spray bottle and sprayed over your fabric. Alternatively, you can soak the fabric in this solution.

What does spray starch do to fabric? ›

Spray starch is a traditional aid for ironing natural fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, and rayon. It helps the iron glide smoothly over the fabric and adds body or crispness to collars and pleats.

Which agent is used to stiff the fabric? ›

The finishing agent for making textile stiff comprises 20-50% propenoic acid systhesis emulsion, 10-30% of animal-fat emulsion, 3-8% of polyvinyl alcohol, 1-5% of cellulose, 0.5-4% of formaldehyde and 1-5% of glycerin, which can be used not only for textile but also for leather, metal anti-rust, flowers and plants and ...

How do you make fabric stiffener with Elmer's glue? ›

Making homemade stiffener is an easy, inexpensive project for the home crafter.
  1. Combine 1 tablespoon of white glue with 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl. Video of the Day.
  2. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  3. Apply the stiffener to one side of the fabric using a paintbrush. ...
  4. Allow the fabric to dry thoroughly before handling.

Can you stiffen felt with spray starch? ›

Laundry Starch Spray

This technique is by far the fastest of the 3 where you are able to use your stiffened felt immediately after the stiffening process. It is super quick and easy with no mess involved. You can easily achieve your desired stiffness by adding multiple thin layers of starch spray.

How can I make fabric more durable? ›

Most fabrics need to be reinforced or strengthened in order to be durable enough for use in upholstery. A knit backing or paper backing finish can be applied to any fabric, giving it the added strength and resiliency it needs to withstand the normal use and abuse that furniture receives.

Does fabric glue make fabric stiff? ›

Flexible fabric glues do not stiffen after they are applied to fabric. This is a great quality for projects that users will be wearing because the more flexible they are, the more comfortable the garments will be. When a fabric glue isn't flexible, it will dry hard and rigid and feel scratchy to wear.

What can I use instead of fusible interfacing? ›

Instead of using fusible, you may use cotton, poly-cotton, woven, muslin, and linen material as interfacing. These materials provide stiffness, structure, support, shape, and hold to the overall garment.

What is Buckram sheet? ›

Buckram is a stiff cotton (occasionally linen or horse hair) cloth with a loose weave, often muslin. The fabric is soaked in a sizing agent such as wheat-starch paste, glue (such as PVA glue), or pyroxylin (gelatinized nitrocellulose, developed around 1910), then dried.

How do you use Aleene's fabric stiffener? ›

  1. Cover form with plastic wrap. Place fabric in bowl or bag.
  2. Pour in liquid to cover. Work into fabric. ...
  3. Create desired shape with treated fabric.
  4. As fabric dries, gently loosen from form.
  5. Use damp cloth to clean up.
  6. To tint: Mix stiffener and water-based acrylic paint.
  7. To thin: Add up to 50% water.

What is the difference between regular Mod Podge and Fabric Mod Podge? ›

Yep, that's it! Well, not “it,” but it's that simple. Your regular Mod Podges are made for applying items to wood, metal, glass, etc., but this formula is used when fabric is the base. If the process is followed appropriately, you'll be able to wash (or hand wash as the case may be) your decoupaged items.

How do you stiffen fabric without starch? ›

PVA glue stiffens fabric permanently once the glue hardens. Dilute the glue using equal parts of glue and water and mix continuously to obtain a paste with an even consistency. Apply the glue with a paintbrush. Craft the fabric into the desired shape and leave to dry.

How do you make fabric hard for sculpture? ›

How to Harden Fabric for Sculpture?
  1. Mix the starch according to the package instructions. ...
  2. Lay the fabric out flat on a clean, dry surface.
  3. Using a paintbrush or sponge, apply the starch to the fabric. ...
  4. Allow the fabric to dry completely. ...
  5. Once the fabric is dry, it should be stiff and hold its shape well.
Jan 19, 2023

What can you use to hold fabric in place? ›

Fabric glue like Dritz Unique Stitch and Dritz Liquid Stitch are fabric glues that also provide a permanent bond. These glues are non-toxic, clear when dry, and machine washable and dryable. If your fabric doesn't hold up to heat well or if you don't have an iron, this fabric glue is the best no-sew option.

What fabrics can you starch? ›

As a natural product, starch works best on 100 percent cotton, cotton blends, and linen to provide crispness. Starch can be purchased in aerosol cans, liquid or powdered form.

What is Buckram fabric? ›

Buckram fabric is a stiff cotton, celebrated for its strength and durability. Buckram fabric is sometimes made from linen or horsehair. Buckram fabric is often coated in glue to enhance its rigidity.

Does starch Harden fabric? ›

Corn starch is a powder derived from grinding up corn, and as such is a pretty natural way to stiffen fabric. You can make corn starch thicker than advised below if you need a very stiff finish. To make a corn starch stiffener: Add 2 cups of room temperature water to a medium size bowl.

Does spray starch attract bugs? ›

Spray starch is one way to get a crisp shirt, but it also turns your clothing into a tasty treat for insects like silverfish. In reality spray starch is just that—a food source. So when you use the stuff on fabrics, it will attract bugs.

Should I use light medium or heavy starch? ›

The intensity of the starch depends upon your personal preference. Light starching is most appropriate for a less-stiff look; while medium and heavy will help your clothes retain their shape longer. If you are unsure of which intensity you want, discuss it with our cleaning professionals.

Does Spray starch make fabric stiff? ›

Does spray starch work without ironing? Yes, whether you iron it or not, it will stiffen the fabric once dry. Ironing ensures there are no wrinkles in the fabric when the starch dries.

How do you make heavy starch at home? ›

Make your own starch. Mix 1 cup of water with 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch in a spray bottle. Making your own starch will allow you to get the heavy starched look you get from the cleaners as most store bought starches are watered down.

How do you make soft material stiff? ›

Add 1 cup (200 g) of baking soda to a bowl and pour in 7 cups (1.7 liters) of white vinegar. Stir the mixture well until completely combined. Add 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the mixture to the fabric softener dispenser of the washing machine or add it during the wash cycle to soften clothes.

What are examples of stiffening agents? ›

Commonly used stiffening agents are some thermoplastic resins, such as polyacrylic acid cheese, polyethylene emulsion and polyvinyl alcohol. These compounds have high molecular weight, high degree of polymerization, and are not easy to penetrate into the fiber. They only adhere to the surface of the fiber.

Is Borax a stiffening agent? ›

Borax This is a very mild alkali. It is added to starch to increase stiffness and to prevent starched articles from becoming limp in damp weather. It also increases the gloss when starched fabrics are ironed. Borax is sold as a white powder.

Does Elmer's craft bond work on fabric? ›

Elmer's CraftBond Fabric & Paper Glue

Great for both paper crafting and fabric projects, this glue forms a strong, permanent bond that remains flexible after it dries. The acid-free, non-toxic formula is also safe to use on photographs for scrapbooking.

Is Elmers glue OK for fabric? ›

White glue, commonly known as Elmer's glue, is one of the most basic crafting tools in the art world. This glue can work on almost any type of surface including wood, fabric, metal, paper, etc. White glue is commonly known as kid's glue or school glue. Because of this, it is non-toxic and non-water resistant.

Does homemade spray starch work? ›

If you love a crisp finish to your ironed linens, then spray starch is absolutely worth adding to your ironing kit. I have had great success using homemade spray starch with vodka and cornstarch. Both recipes are easy to make, inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and work incredibly well.

Can you starch fabric with cornstarch? ›

One of the easiest is to starch clothing. Instead of buying spray starch or sending all those shirts to the cleaners every week, you can mix your own starch with just cornstarch and water. You can also starch large items or large groups of items to the stiffness you choose by using a simple cornstarch mixture.

How do you increase bursting strength of fabric? ›

It can be increased by various chemical treatments of applying cross-linking agents, which increase the crystallinity and compactness of fabric [11]. By increasing elasticity, the bursting strength of the fabric can also be increased.

What is the toughest fabric material? ›

Polyethylene is lightweight, high-strength oriented-strand gels spun through a spinneret and can yield strengths as high as 2.4 GPa. To sum it all, polyethylene is the strongest fabric today.

Is E6000 good for fabric? ›

E6000 FABRI-FUSE creates an exceptional bond for general fabric applications. Its extreme flexibility, stretch and recovery won't create bumps or bulges on fabric and will allow fabric to remain flexible—even after washing. It bonds permanently, dries clear and is acid-free with almost no odor.

Is Gorilla glue good for fabric? ›

Formulated to bond fabric, and hard-to-hold embellishments, Gorilla Fabric Glue provides a fast setting, permanent bond that remains flexible after washing. This high strength adhesive dries crystal clear and can be used on a variety of surfaces, making it the perfect alternative to a traditional needle and thread.

What happens when you put super glue on fabric? ›

Using super glue on fabric is not a good idea. Super glue tends to polymerize rapidly when added to fibers like cotton, therefore it will quickly generate heat that may burn the fibers. In addition, super glue cures into a brittle form that is not bendable and flexible like clothing needs to be.

What happens if I don't use interfacing? ›

Without interfacing, collars and cuffs would be limp and buttons and buttonholes would rip. It's tempting to skip it, but it's a lot like the difference between a nicely toned body and one that isn't. Just like you can skip exercising, you can skip interfacing.

Can you use dryer sheets as interfacing? ›

A used dryer sheet can turn the art of appliqué from tedious to so-easy! The “fabric” of dryer sheets is similar to interfacing but thinner, which makes it ideal for applique (also for backing a quilt block).

Can I use parchment paper as interfacing? ›

You can also use parchment paper as an alternative because it won't stick to the interfacing. Place it under your fabric on the ironing board or above the interfacing to prevent it from sticking to the board or the iron.

Does Mod Podge dry hard or flexible? ›

And Mod Podge doesn't really make fabric “hard.” It does make it stiffer, but it's still pretty flexible. You'll be able to put it on a painted wood surface. Thank you for the great question and GET PREVIOUS QUESTIONS BELOW! What is this?

How long does Mod Podge take to dry on fabric? ›

Mod Podge dries to the touch right away (like most acrylic products); in about 15 – 20 minutes. Depending on the environment, it can be longer. Humidity can make it take longer.

What is the best glue for stiffening fabric? ›

Elmer's glue

This PVA based glue is also known as wood glue, white glue, carpenter's glue, or school glue. It is a non-toxic product safe for use with craft projects. Using Elmer's glue to stiffen fabric is easy: Mix Elmer's glue and water in a 1 to 1 ratio – equal quantities of glue and water.

How do you use Modge Podge as a fabric sealer? ›

Apply Fabric Mod Podge to the back of the fabric design. Place the fabric face-up on the base fabric where desired, and press firmly but gently to the surface with your fingertips. Apply a second coat of Fabric Mod Podge with a brush. Cure for 72 hours.

Will Mod Podge come off if it gets wet? ›

Mod Podge is a craft supply made up of several ingredients, including vinyl acetate. The combination produces a product that is somewhat water resistant, but not waterproof. If a few drops of water end up on your Mod Podge project you can wipe them away with ease.

Is Mod Podge just watered down glue? ›

Wanna know what it is, basically? Watered down PVA glue. That's: Homemade Mod Podge is PVA glue with water in it. But people are paying heaps for this crafting Must Have, to do things like decoupage and scrapbooking, that people have done for years with watered down PVA.

Is Mod Podge stronger than hot glue? ›

Mod Podge is glue, but it's also a sealer – and there are varnishes, etc. in the formula that don't exist in craft glues. The bonding properties of Mod Podge are way stronger than that of (most) craft or school glues.

Is Mod Podge permanent on fabric? ›

Mod Podge Fabric dries clear, leaving a smooth, glossy finish. Use Mod Podge Fabric to apply paper prints or fabric swatches to clothes, totes, banners, and more! When applied to your fabric surface, this handy decoupage glue is permanent and is machine washable in cold water.

Why is Mod Podge sticky after drying? ›

If you've finished your Mod Podge project and it still feels sticky. There's a good chance you have applied it too thickly or didn't allow it to dry fully between coats. Also, the Podge formula you used was very glossy, which means it's more likely to stay sticky or tacky until it's fully cured.

Do you have to let Mod Podge dry for 24 hours? ›

What is cure time for Mod Podge (how long should I let it dry)? It feels dry within an hour, but I wouldn't hang up a project or use it until it's been dry for 24 hours. For Hard Coat, the recommended dry time is 72 hours.

Can I use E6000 on fabric? ›

E6000 FABRI-FUSE creates an exceptional bond for general fabric applications. Its extreme flexibility, stretch and recovery won't create bumps or bulges on fabric and will allow fabric to remain flexible—even after washing. It bonds permanently, dries clear and is acid-free with almost no odor.

How do you permanently stiffen fabric? ›

Mold your fabric to shape and dry. If you require a stiffer finish you may increase the amount of glue substantially. A really stiff and permanent result can be achieved with equal parts of glue and water.

Can you use Mod Podge Ultra on fabric? ›

This versatile, water-based formula comes in a gloss and matte finish that dries quickly, naturally self-levels, and leaves no brush marks. Use Mod Podge Ultra to apply decorative papers, tissue paper, fabric, magazine cutouts, and scrapbooking embellishments to your project.

Can you use dishwasher safe Mod Podge on fabric? ›

This water-based gloss does the same glueing, sealing and finishing of regular Mod Podge® Gloss, but now you can put those items in the top rack of the dishwasher! Use this water-based product to add paper or fabric to something you want to wash (top rack dishwasher or hand wash only), such as cups or plates.


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