Stiffening Small Items

Summary from Quiltnet by Sharon

These are the suggestions I received in response to my question about how to make small quilted items stiff without having them yellow. Thanks everybody!

From: KM

What about a commercial fabric stiffener such as that used for stiffening doilies and other crocheted lace items ??? Not sure about what it does as far as yellowing or deterioration .... Usually used on white crochet thread ....

From: MG

I haven't tried these on quilted things, but I have done them with crocheted and tatted things. I use either spray starch or a sugar/water solution. I've done these to small tatted Christmas ornaments. They haven't yellowed, but they have gotten a bit brittle over the years. These are probably 8 years old now.

I can't remember the exact proportions of sugar to water, but I think it wasn't high enough to warrent boiling the water to dissolve the sugar. I dipped the ornaments in it, and set it on waxed paper or aluminum foil to dry. It probably takes a day or so to dry. Am I being vague enough for you? :^)

From: Melissa

Sharon: At House of Fabrics on Saturday, I saw some glossy clear stuff on a roll (a la Contact paper) that, when bonded with fabric, is flexible, clear and shiny. They used it for bibs (wipe-able) and hats (rain proof). This may be the type of thing you're looking for.

From: Marjorie

I have used a liquid fabric stabilizer/stiffener that comes in a plastic jar. I don't remember the brand name, but I bought it at my local needlepoint and knitting shop. I used it on petitpoint (tiny) so I could seal raw edges, stiffen the pieces, cut up to the stitching, and turn the petitpoints into brooches. So far (3 years), the work hasn't become discolored.

Perhaps you could find this stuff (it looks like white Elmer's glue) at your local needlepoint, craft, quilt, or fabric store, such as Minnesota Fabrics, Hancocks, House of Fabrics, etc.

From: Pat

The craft stores have a liquid call 'Stiffy' for making fabric bows. This drys clear.

From: Marina

Cross stitchers use some stuff called "Needlework Finisher" to make small, stiff items like jewelry. You can find it in needlework shops. I can't say about "not yellowing with time", since it has not been around for eons, but it fits your other requirements. It is also waterproof after it dries. The other thing you could try is the new iron-on plastic lamination sheets, I've seen it in a couple of quilt shops now.

From: Susan

I use liquid starch, full strength, on my tatted pieces. I haven't noticed any yellowing after 5 or 6 years. Soak them in the starch, let dry, then iron. It does wash out tho.

(I asked Susan what kind to use.)

From: Susan

Gee, I don't know. My bottle has been hanging around for years. I don't think there are many choices, tho. Look for liquid starch, not spray starch. The directions for the liquid stuff say to use something like 1 part starch &3 parts water &put it in a spray bottle. I haven't read the directions in years because I only use it for tatting &then I use it full strength. I think it's called Magic or something. It could be hard to find. Might be available in a Ben Franklins or one of those old fashioned hardware stores that have everything.

For what it's worth, tatting books often suggest stiffening in a boiled sugar mixture. I think the sugar approach avoids yellowing, but I don't like the idea because I would expect it to attract bugs.

From: JD

HI! Go to the local art supply store and try the acrylic paint varnishes used for acrylic paintings. Don't get the hobby material it may yellow try Windsor Newton, Golden or one of the other professional brands. They also make a clear gel that is used to extend pigment and give it some translucency. Most of these products look milky wet but all should dry clear and stiff but not brittle.