How to stiffen fabric | How About Orange

January 12, 2011

How to stiffen fabric

I've always wanted to experiment with stiffened fabric, so I picked up a bottle of the aptly named Stiffen Stuff at Michaels.

I sprayed both sides of a piece of quilting weight fabric until it was thoroughly wet. And then, because I'm an impatient girl who gets fed up with air drying, I laid the fabric on a paper towel and microwaved it for 30 seconds. It came out crisp like a sheet of paper! I pressed it for a couple seconds with an iron to smooth out any bumps, and voila.


Stay tuned for projects with stiffened fabric!

Updated project list:
Fabric origami box
Fabric flowers
Valentine heart garland
Fabric wall decals
Origami business card case

58 comments:

Piper said...

Whoa. I love this. Three ideas just popped into my head. Can't wait to see yours!

Anne Magee said...

Awesome! May have to get some for myself! I have something called "Ribbon Stiff" that works really well, too, but this looks less messy!

becky said...

I'm excited to see what projects you dig up! I bought a bottle of this for a sculpture class a while back, but haven't had a chance to use much of it since.

Shanika@LifeisPichey said...

Nice! I have been looking for ways to stiffin fabric as well. This may be my answer!

Shanika@LifeisPichey said...

That should have been *stiffen

Katy said...

I'm curious to see what one can do with (intentionally) stiffened fabric.

celeste said...

oh, the possibilities!

Libby said...

Love the Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow!! Great choice :)

Justine said...

Awesome tip!

Grandma G said...

My imagination sees all your readers running out to buy their own Stiffen Stuff in anticipation of your projects! Too bad I have no place to run to out here in the boonies.

Mary Corbet said...

Neat!! I love the fact that you microwaved it! Can't wait to see what you do with it!

Maxabella said...

I don't know which tip is cooler - the stiffen stuff or the microwaving. You are so fab! x

HazelWea said...

I actually used fabric stiffener for my wedding centerpieces! I used equal parts water and Elmer's glue, though. Works just like this stuff, but a WHOLE lot cheaper! http://twoweasinapod.blogspot.com/2009/06/center-of-attention.html

Nena Nadine said...

I'm stiffing at the seems, I can't wait to find out whats to come.

AMR said...

I'm sorry, but was it only me? All I could think of was the playing of pranks with other people's pants. Again, sorry. :)

Sara said...

A while back the blog 'matsutake' had a tutorial on how to make a lamp out of stiffened material... You might be interested.

http://matsutakeblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/electrified-fox-lamp-tutorial-and.html

It seems like a cool process!

KB said...

I'm assuming the "stiffen" would wash out with laundering...so that eliminates a few possibilities - hmmm can't wait to see what you come up with.

Edie Mindell said...

Great!!! I've been searching for ways on how to stiffen fabrics, and I bumped into your blog. Thanks for the tip.:-) I will definitely try it out.:-)

Punctuation Mark said...

i love this!!! can't wait to see what i can do with it!

KB said...

Gearing up for Valentine crafts - stiffened hearts would work well for a garland!

Emily Elizabeth said...

Oooo very exciting! So many possibilities!

Miki's scrapbook said...

How cool is that? I didn't know there was such a prodcut ;).

diana said...

At first I couldn't understant why you didn't use orange fabric. Now I got it: you didin't want to waste any just in case things don't work well, right? :)))))

Jess said...

That's exactly right! I debated what to test it on and decided I could sacrifice the brown if needed. :)

Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids said...

I used this stuff to make fabric letters for my daughter's nursery. Once it dried I was able to iron them straight on to the wall with no damaging effects!

Side note: is it just me or do the names of these products sound dirty? The one I used was just called "Stiffy" LOL.

Laura said...

AWESOME. i need some of that stuff stat.

Virginia said...

Thank you for guinea-pigging this for us, it looks like fun :) I have so much fabric at home just waiting for an opportunity like this!

Lil Mama Stuart said...

so curious to see what one does with stiffened fabric. sounds good to line dessert plates with for a party!

Amy said...

Oh that's clever! I had no idea that existed!

Erin Hearts Art said...

As a (mostly) papercrafter, this could get into a dangerously new obsessive way to create papery-yet-non-paper items to incorporate into projects...
Jessica - does this stuff reek o'chemicals?
Will have to try the Elmers and water method to boot(Thanks, HazelWea!)

Jess said...

Erin, when the stuff is wet, it does have a chemical smell. There's no ingredient list on the bottle. When it's dry, it has no scent.

Erika H said...

Hey! It's like Viagra for fabric. Cool!

laina kay said...

Ooh! So many ideas for that! Have you tried it with the Silhouette yet? Too fun ☺

Amy Gibson Thomas said...

This may reveal my age, but the project reminds me of "heavy starch." My engineer father wore starched, white shirts to work (white was required), every day for decades. Those shirts would stand up by themselves!

Roberta said...

Well since I don't use the microwave for cooking food in anymore....this is a great use for that big appliance hanging over my stovetop....lol

Christenna said...

I've used many things to stiffen fabrics but haven't heard of this product yet. I'm going to check it out for sure. Do you know if it's a permanent stiff or dose humidity have an effect on it? It dose sound less messy then some of the things I've used which I like but need to check the chemical aspect out also. Love your Hearts, I do stars :)

Jess said...

Christenna, not sure about the humidity aspect. I haven't taken a shower near one of my projects yet, and our apartment is super dry in winter. There's no ingredient list on the bottle, but it says non-toxic and non-flammable.

buggin2stamp said...

I have a ton of fabric that is not getting used. After seeing this post, I have a ton of ideas. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for sharing.

BTW, I found your blog through Gooseberry Patch. So glad I did. I will be adding you to my follow list. Have a great weekend.

Gleenda said...

Awesome, can't wait to try this out. I'm going to Michael's right now to pick some up. Have you tried using this on fabric and then cutting it on the Silhouette? Just wondering if that would work. That would open up more possibilities.

Jess said...

Hi Gleenda, I haven't tried cutting any fabric since this project, because I then learned from someone at Silhouette customer support that cutting fibrous materials like fabric can destroy your blade. So it's not worth it to me to possibly wreck my machine or have to buy expensive new blades!

Gleenda said...

Jess, I think I read that too when I first got my Silhouette last year. But did you see the latest new product from Silhouette America: sewable fabric interfacing
http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/fabric.aspx

Gleenda said...

FYI - Just found a demo of the new Silhouette product: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-SBXbbeRTs
Very very excited...

Jess said...

Gleenda, interesting! Sounds like they've changed their tune. I'll check it out.

Jess said...

Gleenda, I wrote to Silhouette support to ask why their FAQ still says "We do not officially claim the Silhouette is able to cut fabrics" yet their homepage has a big picture that says "Cut a variety of materials... now fabric."

So they just updated the FAQ to this.

Gleenda said...

Very interesting. So I suppose they are changing their tune. The SA rep in the video link I sent earlier from CHA stated that fabric actually harms the blade less than cutting thicker cardstock. Curious to know how their interfacing paper differs from something like heat n bond.
Anyway, will be toying with the Stiffen spray today since we are snowed in with the blizzard and have a snow day off from work. Whoo-hoo! Stay warm and safe!

Gayle said...

Someone in our Silhouette Users Yahoo Group tried the Stiffen Stuff on a fabric which she cut with the Silhouette machine and the result was amazing. I'll post the link on my Blog.

Melinda said...

Okay, random, but could you use just a starch mixture (like you used to put the fabric decal on the wall) instead of the stiffen stuff? Hmm...will have to give it a try!

Leah said...

I've used wallpaper paste to stiffen fabric before and it works great. It takes a while to dry, especially if the weather is damp, but it leaves the fabric very stiff.

Jess said...

I tried that and it didn't work for me. :)

Jess said...

Oops, my comment was for Melinda, not you, Leah!

Bekah said...

I love LOVE love your site. I recently just moved into my 1st apt and on I a decorating budget. I was looking for diy projects and your site came up on google. Thank you so very much for being the creative genius that you are!

Muslimah Book said...

quick question: can I stiffen fabric with Modge Podge?

Jess said...

Hmm. My guess is it probably won't work as well, but you won't know until you try a little sample piece.

Amanda said...

I am trying to make pillowcase fabric not shift around so that little girls can draw on them with fabric markers. Would stiffening them with the water-glue mix or this stiff stuff work for that? Before I found this blog post I was going to stick pieces of cardboard inside them. Thanks for any advice...Amanda

Jess said...

I'd go with the cardboard. You could tape the pillowcase to it with masking tape. This stiffener will be too expensive to use in the large quantities you'd need, plus you probably don't really want a stiff pillowcase as your end result, right?

jan said...

My mom used this on a doll dress an hat.Two dolls done this way make cute book ends.

Vishruti said...

Hi Jessica.. I wanted to know whether fabric can be stiffened without microwave or hair dryer by just leaving it as it is ?

If heat is definately required, then can I iron on immediately ?

Also, will it become a natural fabric after it becomes wet ?

Thanks
Vishruti

Jessica Jones said...

Hi Vishruti, yes, you can just let the fabric air dry instead of heating it. According to the bottle, dry time is about 1 hour. And yes, if you wet or wash the fabric, it will return to its normal limp self.

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