You may never have heard of fabric stiffeners before, but if you are an avid crafter this will change your life.
You can buy commercial fabric stiffeners from most craft stores, but they are so cheap and simple to make at home.
Plus, if you want to stiffen something for your kids, making the fabric stiffener yourself ensures there are no dangerous chemicals included.
All of the natural fabric stiffeners on this list are easy to make at home and are very inexpensive to manufacture.
As a general rule of thumb, leave the fabric in a well-ventilated area in direct sunlight for 24 hours to dry completely.
You can check them after around 5 hours to see if they have dried yet.
We do not suggest putting these in the tumble dryer as the heat can impact the starch and the way the fabric stiffens as it dries.
Something everyone has lying about their house is good old-fashioned white glue, also known as polyvinyl acetate, or PVA. To make a fabric stiffener from this, mix equal parts water and PVA glue.
The liquid will be thick and white, but as it sets it will dry clear. Unlike the other methods, this is unlikely to wash out when you put your clothes in the laundry.
Another way to stiffen fabrics naturally is through the use of gelatin powder. This is an excellent homemade stiffener for use on hats.
To create, dissolve 2 ounces of powdered gelatin in 2 cups of warm water. Whisk until it dissolves and then apply to your fabric using a sponge.
Cornstarch is often used for thickening sauces, but did you know it can also be used to stiffen fabrics?
Get a ¼ cup of cold water and mix in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix until dissolved.
At the same time, heat another ¼ cup water in a pan. Bring to the boil. Slowly pour in the cornstarch slurry. Whisk constantly and bring to the boil again.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool down to room temperature. The mixture should be thick, gloopy, and translucent. This too will dry clear.
The same principle will work with tapioca flour.
To make a flour-based fabric stiffener you follow a similar process to using cornstarch.
Get ½ cup cold water and whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour. Boil another ½ cup in a small pan.
Whisk the flour slurry into the boiling water and allow the mixture to thicken. It should reach a gravy consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature.
The mixture will continue to thicken as time passes. You can add water to thin it out if you are after a more runny solution.
This does not dry translucent and will instead be a more cream color. This is important to be aware of before attempting to stiffen white fabrics with this solution.
Flour, cornstarch, salt
Add 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 10 tablespoons of salt to a pot.
Bring to a boil on the stove, stirring constantly as you do. The mixture should thicken. Allow it to cool before using on your fabric.
This can be done using the cooking water from white rice. We only suggest using white rice water as other kinds of rice can impart a slight color to the water, which will then get transferred to your fabric.
Once you have cooked your rice, some of the starches will dissipate into the water. Drain the rice out for your dinner and reserve the cooking water.
You can add extra water to thin the consistency if you like, or simply use as is. Dip your fabric into the water and then wring it out. Hang up in the sun or a warm place to dry. It is important that the fabric coated in rice water dries quickly. If it is left to sit damp, the fabric can begin to smell rather funky.
The same principle also works with potatoes. Peel and grate 2 medium potatoes. Place in a large bowl and cover them with water. Leave this to sit for 10-20 minutes and then strain the water off. Leave it to sit for an hour or so, and then pour out the clear water that has settled at the top.
Transfer to a pot on the stove and bring to the boil. This will thicken as it heats up, but you can thin it out with water if you accidentally boil for too long.
You can grate tapioca and repeat the same process.
You can buy boxes of starch powder from most drugstores. Add around 1 cup of the powder to a large pan, alongside 1 cup tap water. Heat gently and whisk to dissolve.
Add up to 1½ liters of boiling water. Continue to heat and whisk until you get a smooth, gelatinous mixture in the pan.
Rice starch paste
In Japan, this is known as nori. It is a multi-purpose rice paste that is used as a fabric stiffener, an edible glue for kids, and many other things.
You will need 5 teaspoons of glutinous rice powder. This should not contain fiber. You will also need around 400ml water.
In a small bowl, whisk together the glutinous rice powder and 100ml water. Whisk well until completely smooth.
Heat 300ml of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Whisk in the rice powder slurry and boil until the liquid becomes semi-translucent. When this happens, remove from the heat.
You can thin this out with water, but ensure it is boiling before attempting to mix it through. You should ensure that the mixture is fully cooled before you use it on fabric.
This can be diluted a lot to create a starch spray, or you can add up to an extra tablespoon of gelatinous rice flour to produce a much stronger stiffening effect.