How to Stiffen or Starch Crochet Articles

By A Guest Writer – 35 Comments

A Guest Post by Amanda Kidd.

If you are interested in stiffening your crochet, then you are lucky to have plenty of methods at your disposal. The list of various methods range from commercial to homemade. The most traditional formula is the sugar solution and it works excellently even today. As for you, what you want to do with your crochet will decide the type of solution that will suit your purpose.

  1. Hair spray
    This will involve treating your item with a hair spray and then pinning in place. Watch out for any rust on your pins or else there could be unwanted spots on your item. Wait until the hairspray is dried up and semi hard. This method is great for temporary crochet items, such as Christmas decorations.
  2. Starch
    This is the handiest method of all. You are required to wash your item and then dry it properly. Make sure that you have a prepared surface to lay your crocheted article on. A flat surface like a blocking board or a cardboard box will work. Just place your item on the board, pin it up with rust-free pins and spray the starch. For those who are planning for a curved look may opt for a glass bowl or pie pan.
  3. Glue and water
    For this method, mix glue and water in equal proportions and soak your crocheted article in it. Squeeze a bit but don’t twist your crocheted article as you may end up ruining it. Try arranging your crocheted item in different shapes until you get the desired look, then let it dry. Note that this method is permanent and cannot be washed out like other methods.
  4. Liquid starch
    When it comes to adjusting how stiff you want your crocheted article, liquid starch is the best method. Apply the starch directly or spray it by mixing with water first. The more water added, the less stiff it’ll be. Again remember not to twist your item while squeezing once you have dipped it properly in the solution.
  5. Sugar-water solution
    Boil equal portions of sugar and water together. Let it cool a bit and dip your crocheted article into it. Again squeeze it but not twist. This method gives the crochet a hard look and imparts a natural feel to it.

How to give the desired shape?

There are two simple and easy ways to shape your item. Choose according to your preference.

  1. Use a towel to dry the item. Now press the wrong side with a mild iron setting after covering with a thin piece of cloth or handkerchief. Press until properly dried and remember not to use a hot iron over it.
  2. If you have an item such as a ruffle doily, prepare a flat surface and pin up your crocheted item on it. Give a gentle stretch to the item by placing forms like film cartridge containers, spice bottles or any round object, at regular intervals where you want the item to curve. Then allow it to dry.

Amanda is a writer and blogger. She loves writing about the most expensive stuffs in the market and recently her interest has aroused in the most expensive wedding dresses.

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35 Comments

  1. Sarah Dee says:

    Would these tecniques work on making a lacy scarf hold its shape? Or would blocking be better?

  2. Kris says:

    How ’bout fabric stiffener? 20 years ago, at this time, I had a room full of little crocheted baskets, dipped in stiffener and draped over a broom handle – my wedding favors! Still have a few as Xmas ornaments and they’re still the same shape!

  3. Kit says:

    It may be worth mentioning not to use the sugar solution on things to be worn or to go outside? I know that narrows it down but I’d hate for anyone to be chased by bees or wasps. I have just made a garland for inside and outside. It occurred to me that the sugar method wouldn’t be the best option. I cannot get hold of spray starch at late notice and I need a reasonably permanent solution; glue and water it is!

    And in answer to Sarah Dee, blocking would be so much better.

  4. Ivory says:

    I also agree about not using sugar starch for outside objects! Instead of sugar you can use starch (potato or corn). There are recipes on the internet. Oh and the kind of pins you need are the ones that say “stainless steal” they don’t rust.

  5. Collette Griffith says:

    I personally prefer the glue and water method, for my snowflakes and butterflies. But I make the solution a little runnier, by mixing about 2/3 water with 1/3 glue. Then I take a soft bristle art brush, dip it in the glue solution, then brush it on the pinned item, soaking it completely. Let dry for a day or so. It works great! I also sprinkle fine glitter on my snowflake right after I coat it with the glue solution. I use the iridescent glitter, and it sparkles like real snow!

  6. Paula says:

    That was a great article,I got very educated. Thanks everyone!

  7. Dana says:

    Good morning all ^_^

    The other day I used 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 cup cold distilled water for the ruffles of a doll’s dress. It’s stiff enough to actually balance on the flounces on itself! Any suggestions though for how to make ruffles & flounces shape up better? I mean it’s not a flat object so I’m guessing pins won’t work…

    Thanks for the helpful post, Amanda.

  8. Pamela B says:

    This was some great information…Have been wondering for quite a while how this was done! Thank you all so much.

  9. roxanne sims says:

    Will instant decoupage (glue,sealer&finish) work?

    • Lacey says:

      Mod-Podge (or equivalent) will work, but needs to be thinned out a bit unless you are actually trying to decoupage the crocheted item to something else permanently.

      Another tip for forming Crocheted bowls is to use the appropriate sized balloons and once the item is stiffened with your preferred method, then just drape it over the balloon and allow to dry.

  10. Mary Graves says:

    For the glue one, what kind of glue do you use?

  11. Sue Oja says:

    Which stiffening method produces no yellowing?

    • Collette Griffith says:

      The glue and water does not yellow. I’ve used that method for several years, for snowflakes, and they’re still as white as…well…as snow! ;-)

      • Sue Oja says:

        Thank you Collette! I have a bunch of ornaments crocheted for a church fundraiser. Great time of year to pick up Elmers glue cheap. Guess what I’ll be doing tonight!! (-:

      • May B. says:

        I wonder if the glue and water will give a plastic like feel. I want to treat bookmarks and hope to keeb the soft feel of cotton. Any suggestions?

        • Collette Griffith says:

          May B–I use the glue and water mixture for my bookmarks. I use half and half, and they are stiff enough to hold their shape, but not give them a plastic feel. You can still tell they are made of cotton thread. You could try a little more water than glue for a softer feel, but they might not hold their shape as well. Just experiment.

          • May B. says:

            Hi Collette, I tried it it worked best with half water-half glue. It looked nice and is stiff enough, thanks for the tip.

  12. Barbara Letz says:

    I have a bridal crown with lots of little points to stiffen. Tried Aleen’s Stiffen Quick, but it did nothing except make my crown wet. The starch method sounds like it will work. Do I need to rewash my crown, or can I just starch over it (I hope)?

  13. Becky Iorns says:

    I have crocheted hats and felted them in the washer machine. Do you know if there is a stiffener I could use in the washer to help to keep the shape when the hat drys? I want to try and make my Grandson a cowboy hat.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Becky! I’ve never tried any stiffener in the washer. But you can probably use a regular stiffener once the hat is dried. If you end up using a stiffener in the wash let me know how it goes, I’d love to know.

  14. Asaba says:

    hi everyone,
    i am so happy to have read all the comments and the article. am now very educated and am excited about trying out the new ways of stiffening i.e sugar and water, glue and water. very interesting. cheers

  15. Miriam Ralph says:

    Hi

    I crocheted a wide-brimmed sun hat in 100% cotton yarn and its very floppy. I’d like to permanently stiffen the hat but not sure what to use. The glue and water sounds interesting (its permanent) but I’m afraid of ruining the piece. I already sprayed the hat with a starch spray, ironed it but it didn’t work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Hi Miriam! Maybe you can crochet a small swatch using the yarn you used for the hat, then try the glue/water solution on it. That way you can see how you like the results before trying it on the actual hat.

    • Becky says:

      Hi Miriam,
      I just bought a wide brimmed cotton hat and it had wire in it. I think you could cut some wire and just string it in a row of crochet or knitting. There were actually two, one up close to the crown and one close to the edge. I get lots of compliments on it.
      Becky

  16. Patricia says:

    If I used starch or liquid starch to stiffen and shape my garment, will my garment still hold my desired shape after being hand washed?

  17. Laraine Gooch says:

    Am mAking wigs for my kids and wondered if anyone could advise what method would be better for stiffening the wool. And ideas please

  18. geri says:

    Hello all you helpful people(=
    I just finished a lovely 100% cotton shawl, crocheted based on an heirloom doily pineapple pattern so it’s lacy and drapey with lots stitch of detail. I am going to block it of course and have considered starching it. I have never starched anything I’ve made before so am full of questions.
    Would the sugar solution work best? I assume you have to re-starch after washing? This piece will probably require 100′s of pins and hours of work. Is there a type of starch that is permanent so I wouldn’t have to repeat the process? Call me lazy!
    Thank you!!

  19. Collette Griffith says:

    Geri, I’m not quite sure why you would want to starch a shawl. They are supposed to drape nicely over the shoulders, I think. I’m afraid the starch would make them stick out, and maybe even poke your skin.

    • geri says:

      Thanks for the input Collette. I really want the pineapple pattern to pop out at the admiring crowds (: But the shawl is sooo drapey the folds eat up the pattern, in a manner of speaking. But in the end who wants to get poked by their lacey shawl??? Maybe I’ll try just a damp blocking first; no starching. I’ll see what I think and will let you know. Cheers.

      • Collette Griffith says:

        Let us know how it comes out!! If it doesn’t work, maybe you could just parade around with your hands on your hips, so that the pattern will show, hmm-m-m? ;=O

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