Stiffen Crochet

Stiffen Crochet: My Mother used to do it with sugar water. In time sugar water yellows, it can draw unwanted critters, and it doesn't stand up nice in humid climates.

Back in the 1970s I discovered that glue, on fabric, stiffens the fabric. I started playing with this discovery, and thread crochet, until I got a method that looked good to me. Here's the way I stiffen crochet using glue. There are many descriptions out there, this is just one more.

Click the button to the right to get your free copy of this lesson, "How To Stiffen Crochet."

Gather Materials to Stiffen Crochet

I really try to use things from around my house. There are so many items that people just throw away, that can be re-purposed into useable craft materials.

* Your Item: Whatever the item you want to stiffen, have it handy. What you made it out of doesn't really matter; cotton, acrylic, bamboo - it all works.

* Glue: You need white glue. The brand name doesn't matter. If you don't have some in your house, just go into school supplies in a local store, and you'll see white glue. I keep my eyes open for sales, or go to my local dollar store.

* Water: A glass of water.

* 1 TBLS Measure Spoon: It will only touch water (not glue) so just grab one from your kitchen.

* Glass Jar with Screw Top: Jelly jar, mayonnaise jar, I used the jar I buy my coconut oil in. MAKE SURE IT'S VERY CLEAN. This will be your mixing / storage jar.

* Soaking Tub: Any plastic container, that's about the same size as your item, will work. Mine used to have potato salad in it. MAKE SURE IT'S VERY CLEAN.

* Rust Resistant Pins: Not all sewing pins are rust resistant, so you may need to do some shopping for these.

* Blocking Board: I'll tell you how I made mine. Basically I used a sandwich baggy and a piece of cardboard.

* Not Pictured - A Plastic Knife: The kind you get with carry out food.

Step-by-Step How To

Make Your Blocking Board: Most people have a cardboard shipping box laying around their house. You'll need that and a plastic baggy (small = sandwich bag, medium - 1 qt baggy, large = storage baggy, huge = tall kitchen trash can bag). Cut the cardboard so it fits inside your baggy, slip it in and seal the baggie.

Prepare Your Item: This is an important step that most people seem to skip when getting ready to stiffen crochet. Please don't skip this, it makes a big difference to stiffen crochet, as you wash out any fiber residue.

WASH your item - with NO FABRIC SOFTENER, and NO PERFUME. Warm water, I just use a dribble of dish soap. I squeeze the sudsy water through the item, then rinse VERY well with cool running water. Make sure all the soap is gone. Do not wring your item, just squeeze it. When I'm done washing I squeeze excess water out so the item is just damp. In order to get a good stiffening your items needs to start out clean and damp.

Mix Your Stiffening Solution: The recipe; 1 part white glue, 2 parts water. A small item, like a snowflake or flower, takes about 2 tablespoons of glue.

Let's not get glue all over your measure spoon or measure cup. I learned this trick in my high school science class (back in 1974).

1. From the glass of water - to your glass storage jar - measure 2 tablespoons (or more if you have a bigger item, or a lot of little ones) of WATER. Mark the glass jar as to the level of water (a sharpie pen, crayon, or piece of tape all work well). Remember how much you put in (I put in 2 tablespoons).

2. Dump the water back into the glass, you just wanted the measurement.

Fill the glass with glue - up to your measurement line.

Then add double the amount of water.

Example: If you started with 2 tablespoons, to get the level of glue you wanted --- now you would add 4 tablespoons of water.

Cover the jar tightly and shake, shake, shake. Make sure all the water and glue mix together well.

The Stiffening: To begin with, I cover my work area (I'm messy at times) before I start the process to stiffen crochet. All I used was a plastic grocery bag.

Pour the glue solution into your dipping container. Drop your item into the glue solution (remember it should be damp). You can be nice and neat by using the plastic knife, or you can be like me and get your fingers in it. I usually carry this to the sink, squish the glue through my item with my fingers, and rinse off my fingers.

For this part it's best to use the plastic knife. Pick your item out of the solution and let it DRIP for about 5 minutes. Don't worry, it isn't going to start stiffening. I just push the knife so it rests on both sides of the container, and walk away for a little bit.

Plop your gloopy mess on to your blocking board and PIN, PIN, PIN. Anything that doesn't look right, should get a pin. Remember, once it's stiff it's going to look like what you pined so don't be afraid to 'over' pin. And again, don't worry about taking your time. It takes a good amount of time to dry.

Speaking of drying, it can take 2 - 3 days depending on what you worked with. Something like a thread crochet snow flake may just be over night. My flower petals were dry in a day, however the cone of the flower took a second day before it was dry. Once the top feels stiff and dry, remove the pins and flip the item over for a while to make sure the bottom is also dry.

Don't Want It Flat? Use whatever you have around the house to raise your item (a thimble would have worked great under the cone of this flower), or shape it however you want it. My Mom would use cups under a doily to make the doily ripple. Just remember to cover your props with plastic so they don't get glue on them. You can 'build' your props on top of the homemade blocking board so you can easily move the whole thing to a safe place.


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