How to Stiffen or Starch Crochet Articles

By A Guest Writer – 101 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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  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!

    • betty says:

      Hi loved the tip for glue and water. Neat trick for snow flasks. Would you share the patterns for snow flasks and butterflies? Thanks. Betty

    • Kirsten Weatherill says:

      What kind of glue is best to use? I use 100% accrillic yarn and I’m not sure what to use :/ looking for something that hopefully won’t wash out 🙂 thanks

  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.

    • Becky bradbury says:

      I am wondering about the ruffles on the doll dress. Would marbles give the lace enough support while it’s drying to get the ruffle effect? just drape them over and mold over the marbles .

  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:


    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.

  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

      • debbie says:

        wash your shawl and in your final rinse put liquid starch and then lay out flat to dry. I do this to my lace curtains and then hang wet on rod. They come out great.

  20. KAYTEE says:

    I am crocheting a loose stitch basket. I found a container to match the shape. I made it with peaches n cream. Any suggestions on which method? Again its kinda big and its going to be a basket. Ty KAYTEE

    • Collette Griffith says:

      Again–I would go with the glue/water mixture. Make it heavier on the glue, so that it will be stiff enough to hold its shape. Good luck!

  21. Keri says:

    I am making angels as gifts for Christmas. What method would work best to stiffen the angels so they stand up? Glue and water?

    • Collette Griffith says:

      Yes, I probably sound like a broken record, but a glue mixture (2/3 glue and 1/3 water) would stiffen them very well. You can always play around with the mixture, but you’ll want it pretty stiff for these angels!

  22. Madhu Deen says:

    Could anyone please let me know what type of glue that used? just normal white glue or fabric glue? i need to stiffen permanently. Thank you verymuch

    • Collette Griffith says:

      Elmer’s Glue works well. So does regular School Glue. Just do not wash it. If you want permanent stiffening, buy a white glue that specifies it is permanent. I have never looked for that, so I can’t recommend any certain brand. Rachel, do you have a suggestion for this one?

  23. Miriam Ralph says:

    I tried a gelatin and water mix for stiffening a wool hat but it has become a bit floppy again. Its a wide-brim sun hat made by crocheting cotton yarn. I’d like to try Mod Podge Matt glue (as I have it!). Do I need to thin it with water? If so, do you know what the mix is? What could I rest the hat on to get the shape without it sticking to the other item? Maybe I should do it in two lots – top first, let it dry & then do the brim separately? Any ideas?

  24. Melissa says:

    so it seems like the glue and water method is the best one if you’re really trying to make something hold up. I’ve seen a lot of the cat cave patterns online and would really like to do one, but it seems like the main complaint from those is they like to collapse.

    I mean obviously if the cat decided to sit on top of it nothing will really prevent it from folding in on itself. But I’m thinking wire around the entrance and maybe this glue and water method might make it less likely to fall if he’s just laying inside of it. How would you guys suggest I keep the shape if the whole interior needs to be held up. A balloon?

    • Collette Griffith says:

      Melissa, if you’re looking to leave the balloon in it, that just wouldn’t work at all! Kitty would burst the balloon with her claws, plus she couldn’t crawl into the cave. It might be possible to blow up a balloon, however, to the size of your cave, then coat it with undiluted glue. After it dries, then perhaps the wire around the edge of the entrance?? Good Luck! Let us know what works, if anything!

      • Collette Griffith says:

        Sorry, I meant to say–blow up the balloon inside the cave–THEN coat it with the glue! Duh!

      • Becky bradbury says:

        Has anyone tried a silicon spray? To see if the Modge podge will come off that, like the baking may be could actually mold those baking sheets over a form like a balloon and then drape the hat.

    • susan says:

      I made a cat cave and yes they don’t stand up. I crotcheted a sample and used non toxic glue and water, but it took forever to dry, so I ended up buying a large lamp shade from an opshop and put that inside and cut an opening, works great.

  25. Melissa says:

    yeah, that’s what I meant. Just for the balloon part to make sure that the cat cave wouldn’t collapse under the combined weight of glue and itself. The goal would be for the cat to be inside so no balloon could be included after the fact 😃

  26. Melissa says:

    Haha yup. At least someone gets it 😛

  27. Alison Kennedy says:

    I’ve crocheted red cotton poinsettia for a wreath could I still use glue and water method on colours

    • Collette Griffith says:

      I don’t see any reason you couldn’t! If you want it very stiff, just lessen the amount of water.

  28. Abby says:

    I made a lace ball and used elmers glue to stiffen it, however once I deflated the ball I used for the shape and took it out it didn’t stay as hard as I wanted. It looks floppy. Do you think corn starch would be best to make it harder??

    • Jen says:

      Abby; I have used the Elmers glue method myself and have had really good results.

      If you use 1 part water and 1 part Elmers glue you shouldn’t have any problems. I have an Easter egg I crocheted over a year ago and it is still hard, also I crocheted 2 open face ornaments and they are also still hard. Be sure you let them dry completely before popping the balloon. That may be why your project turned out kind of floppy.

      • Abby says:

        Thank you, Jen. I’ll try leaving it a little bit longer. It’s been raining all week and maybe that hasn’t helped my proyect much!!

  29. Jen says:

    I need help!! I crocheted a hat for my grand daughter for Christmas, however the instructions did not say how to stiffen it or what to use to shape the head part of the hat. PLEASE, if anyone knows how to solve this problem so I can mail the hat to her for Christmas it would be greatly appreciated. She is 7 and lives in Nevada so time is running out.

    Thank you

    • Collette Griffith says:

      If the hat is made of yarn, you don’t want to stiffen it! It would be too scratchy to wear! If it is made of thread, then I guess you might try the half and half solution of Elmer’s glue and water. You could use a bowl for the bowl of the hat itself, then stiffen the brim after the bowl of the hat is stiff by spreading out the brim on waxed paper then brushing on the same solution of glue/water.

  30. Jen says:

    Years ago I crocheted baskets. It called for a sugar and water starch and it worked great. The ruffles formed nicely as it quickly dried. Problem is, I gave one to afriend and one summer she came home from work and found a trail of ants. She couldn’t figure out where they where coming from, one day she investagated the matter and discovered that the ants had eaten the bottom of her basket. A year or 2 ago I crocheted another basket for one of my grand daughters. Not wanting the same results with her basket I used the Elmer’s glue and water solution to starch hers. The problem I found is that it was a challenge trying to form the ruffles of the basket so I bought plastic easter eggs and had to safty pin the ruffles around the eggs. I had to check on it every so often to make sure the egg didn’t slid out of the ruffle or that the bottom of the ruffle didn’t lose it’s shape. It took quite a bit more work and time but it came out nicely and my grand daughter loved it. AS for the hat, which is for the same grand daughter. It is made of crochet thread. I don’t know if the glue and water solution would be good for something she’ll be wareing. The bowl was a good idea however the shape of the head piece is shaped differently then just a mear bowl. It’s a little smaller at the very top of the hat then it is where the brim starts. It would be nice if the instructions whould have offered suggestions of what to use.
    Thank you all for your suggestions and comments.

    • Sue says:

      I make crochet bracelets from fine cotton thread. I use spray starch on them. They’re still flexible yet hold their shape. If you want them stiffer just repeat the process.
      I use styrofoam wrapped in wax paper as forms. It comes in many shapes & sizes. You can easily cut it the size you need. (A tip for cutting long straight lines is to use my electric kitchen knife.) The foam is also easy to pin to. After use discard the wax paper & the foam is ready to use again!
      Hope this helps.

    • Bobbi says:

      I read on one site that to prevent this, while still keeping the nice effects of the sugar starching, you can spray or lightly brush with Mod Podge matte.

  31. Beverly Johnson says:

    A few year’s ago I crocheted a train, a series of small cars. Pinned them to Styrofoam blocks and dipped them in commercial stiffening before putting over blocks, whoops covered blocks with saran wrap, then pinned them in shape. They have held up marvelously but now find that some”cars” are yellowing. If I wash them would assume I would have to re block. Getting lazy don’t want to go to that work if I don’t have to. Also made a sleigh this year but runners are not staying upright. Any suggestions

  32. CJ says:

    I have a large crocheted angel that I’ve been using a my tree topper for 25+ years. It is beginning to discolor so I want to try to wash and stiffen it. I think it was originally stiffened with the sugar solution. The body is a cone shape that is 10″ high and 9″ wide at the bottom. I haven’t been able to locate a styrofoam cone of this size. Does anyone have any experience or tips to offer?

    • Karen says:

      You may have already done it by now, but I would use either newspaper or cardboard (cereal box?) and make a cone out of it to fit before you wash it. cover it with plastic wrap or similar, wash by hand then make a starch out of cornstarch or white glue. Sugar gives it a little glisten so you may want to use it, all three have numerous recipes online. Rinse it very well, then dry it some so it will soak up plenty of stiffener. Dampen it in the stiffener and place on your paper & plastic cone and let dry at least over night.

  33. I made a large round Pineapple design Tablecloth How do I starch it ORK should I starch it

    • Collette Griffith says:

      My husband’s aunt made many of these large tablecloths, and she never starched them. I think they were heavy enough that she just washed them, and laid them flat to dry. They last forever, if taken good care of–no bleaching or hot water washing.

  34. Denise says:

    I made a trinket basket that I used liquid starch on and aloud 24 hours to dry. I really like the stiffness that occurred but I didn’t like how dull the yarn now looks. Did I do something wrong or do you have suggestions of other methods to try?

    • Collette Griffith says:

      Is the basket made of thread or yarn? I really don’t know if you can starch yarn, and not have a dull finish, because of its material.

  35. ANNE says:

    I am making crochet roses for my wedding bouquet and bridesmaids, which method would be best for 100% acrylic and contain thread.


    • Collette Griffith says:

      A simple solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 Elmer’s Glue works beautifully. Just wet down the rose, then soak it in the water/glue mix. Squeeze excess out, and shape your rose. Let dry. Enjoy!

  36. Erica H says:

    I crocheted curtains and was wondering how to stiffen up the outside edge so it stays a little straighter. Wondering if the water/glue mixture would work. Thinking about trying it. Hmm

    • Collette Griffith says:

      I believe I would try spray starch first for curtains. If it doesn’t work satisfactorily, then wash and try the glue and water solution, but only with a very weak solution of glue to water.

  37. shantel says:

    I am doing a couple rugs. What would be best to stuften them? Also is there anything i can do to make them less slippery? I saw a spray used for the bottom of crochet slippers, would that work?

  38. Collette Griffith says:

    If you are using rug yarn, and are making it in sc, it should be fairly stiff to begin with. If using other yarn, I’d recommend using 2 strands of yarn, and make it in sc, to make it stiff. Yes, you can still get the non-skid spray in craft stores. It puts a rubbery spray on the back that helps keep them from sliding. Also–you can buy non-skid rug strips.

    • shantel says:

      What brand of yarn would you recommend? Iv read use 2-3 strands or use a certain kind but im not sure what kind to buy. I have a handcock fabric, walmart and hobby lobby.

  39. Yvonne Park says:

    Hi I’m going to be stiffening some lace collars on foam bridesmaids flowers these are attached to the oasis holders what do you recommend I’m in the UK
    thank you

  40. Desiree says:

    Sorry to ask but I’m crocheting cat butt coasters, would the glue and water work best or should I starch them?

  41. Sharon Stokes says:

    Hi, I am making crocheted halter tops and some need to be permanently stiffened a little to make the design stay straight but still be soft and coffy to wear. Which method would be the best. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  42. Pamela says:

    Hi everyone,l want to start a business in crafts. How do you permanently starch purses and handbags. Any idea would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  43. Teresa says:

    I have a question. I’m making a pair of baby sandals that go a little past the ankles. I want to stiffen them up a bit so the stitches/tops of the sandals don’t droop. I am using white crochet thread (#10). I’ve read that using liquid starch on white items will make the thread turn yellow over time. But I want that stiff look but keep the white color. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could use.

    Thank you
    Teresa Berry

  44. LaDonna says:

    Great tips on stiffening and will probably use the glue & water for a bunch of crocheted bowls but I didn’t see many references to what you could use to form these. I don’t think I want to use balloons as I want a flat bottom. What does the glue NOT stick to? Has anyone used glass bowls, plastic bowls, metal cans (like coffee cans)? I want to make sure the items don’t get glued to the form, lol.


  45. Tracy says:

    Thanx very much for giving me a few diff ways to stiffen up my Crochet projects! I had NO idea how to do it or that there is diff ways to accomplish this!
    Cheers =0)

  46. Stella says:

    I crocheted a few hanging Christmas Angels. I will use the glue/water solution, a styrofoam cone for part of the shape. How can I shape the wings? You have a very interesting and educational blog.

  47. Alyce Johnson says:

    Hi I’ve been crocheting most of my life and I’m 47. But I’m just now learning to stiffen items. What is the best way to stiffens a crocheted angel. I did my first one with sugar water but didn’t like how it turned out and was afraid of ants, then redid it with the glue. I put her on a pop bottle but now she is leaning a little. Thanks

  48. Carol says:

    Used sugar water, snowflakes fell gummy now, an I wash out and use glue?

  49. melanie britton says:

    What stiffening method would yield the hardest finished product? I mean, like put a can of veggies on it hard. lol…

  50. Janette says:

    Hi, I am trying to stiffen cups and sauces for my wedding and I want tothem quite hard. Any suggestions. Thanks

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