How To Stiffen Felt – 3 Easy Ways

Felt is a highly versatile and fun material to work with and I love using it with crafts and to make cute crafts with children. Felt is easy to work with and can look beautiful in a matter of minutes but sometimes a craft requires us to use a stiff felt which can be hard to buy or find in stores.

To stiffen felt you would need a substance such as glue, starch or cornflour to soak into the felt and let it dry. This will create a strong bond between the fibres of the felt and create a stiff sheet.

In this article, I will go through the reasons you might need to use stiff felt, why you might want to make your own at home and how to do so.

What Do I Use Stiff Felt For?

On its own, felt is a useful fabric but it cannot remain in a 3-dimensional shape for a while unless it is made to be stiff. They can be cut and decorated to beautify someone’s living space.

Additionally, kids can use them to create toys like puppets, action figures, and dolls that they can play with or craft beautiful sculptures in their spare time. Furthermore, stiff felts can be used to make covers for notebooks.]

There are honestly a whole number of things you can use stiff felt for and the opportunities with this material are endless.

Why Would I Need to Stiffen Felt?

It is cheaper to make stiff felt by yourself instead of getting them at the store. You can also make varieties of coloured stiff felts which you might not find at stores.

Also, you can produce them at any size you want. If you need to make backgrounds for posters and scrapbooks, a stiff felt would help.

Tools Needed to Stiffen Felt

Creating your own stiff felt is easy enough to do at home and doesn’t have to be stressful, take all day or make you wish you hadn’t tried.

When you want to stiffen felt, you need to have the following available;

  • Pieces of felt
  • Warm Water
  • Cornstarch
  • Spray-on stiffener
  • Pressing Iron
  • Ironing board
  • White School Glue
  • Stove
  • Old Container

How to Stiffen Felt

As there are a number of ways in which you can stiffen felt I decided to break these up and list the tutorial under each so you can choose which is best for you and go from there.

Using Water And Glue

Firstly, cut the pieces of felt you have into pieces that are slightly larger than the size you originally need because, during the stiffening process, the felt might change shape or shrink.

Then, you mix 1 part glue to 3 parts of warm water in an old container. If you use excess glue, there might be a film of glue on your felt after the process. Stir the glue and water mixture thoroughly until they are completely combined. 

The best way to able to get the glue to mix thoroughly with the water is to use hot water for 1 part of the mixture. This will help loosen the particles of the glue and allow a nice even mixture.

Next, you put all the pieces of felt you want to stiffen in the uniform mixture of water and glue. Make sure it is submerged and leave it in until the fabric is fully saturated.

When it is saturated, then you can dry it but beware that this part is tricky and time-consuming. Try to get as much of the mixture off the felt as carefully as you can.

However, resist the temptation to wring or twist the felt as this will damage the fabric. Instead, you can pinch the felt between your hand and the side of the container you soaked it in while pulling it out.

It works best in removing the excess mixture and leaves the felt as evenly flat as possible. I found the best way to remove the excess liquid was to scrap the felt gently with my rubber spatula to squeegee out some of the liquid.

Although this process is tedious, it is useful since it will significantly reduce the time the felt would need to dry.

Let the felt be laid out in a single layer on your wax paper for up to 48 hours so it can be completely dry. The time taken to dry the felt mostly depends on the type of felt you use and the amount of mixture that is removed before hanging the liquid out to dry.

When the felt fully dries, lay it out flat on an ironing board and iron it until it is nice and crisp. To get the best results, put the pieces of felt underneath a clean cloth before ironing them.

Using A Spray-On Felt Stiffener

This is an alternative method to the one described above. You should shape your felt fabric as you want the finished product to be. It could have a 3D shape but you should bind the felts with stickpins or clips so they would retain their shape while you work on them.

Put the bonded felt fabric on a wax paper and take it either outside or to a well-ventilated area indoors. Rest the fabric on an empty can or a wooden spoon if you will need to also spray the interior.

Gently shake the can of spray stiffener and spray the felt with continuous overlapping strokes. The stiffener usually comes with instructions which vary by brand, follow the directions on the stiffener for the specific usage guidelines.

When you have sprayed the fabric completely, let it harden for a day or two, unless if otherwise stated on the user manual of the product. Note that felt stiffened by this method does not remain stiff as long as the ones stiffened with the water and glue mixture.

Using Cornstarch

This is widely regarded to be one of the best methods of stiffening felt. The main ingredient is cornstarch which is a natural stiffener that is durable and safe to use even by young children.

Before the process can begin, you have to activate the stiffening power of the cornstarch. It is very effective and the strength depends on the amount of cornstarch used but the effect can reduce over time the more the stiff felt is used.

Also, if you wash it vigorously, it will become less stiff.

To stiffen felt with cornstarch, you have to boil two cups of water. While the water boils, you mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with half a cup of cold water and stir until you get a smooth mixture.

Then, slowly pour the cornstarch solution into the boiling water and stir continuously. Keep stirring the mixture while it is still boiling at low heat for another two minutes.

Gradually, the mixture would go from an opaque white colour to a thick gravy appearance. 

After getting this new colour, remove the mixture from the stove and let it cool until it becomes comfortable to the touch. If you want to stiffen different colours of felts, you should start with the lighter coloured ones, then go the darker ones.

Gently, immerse the felt into the mixture and massage until it is completely saturated. After half an hour, remove the felt from the cornstarch solution and gently squeeze – not wring – the fabric. You can press the felt between paper towels to get some of the excess solutions out of the felt.

Do all you can not to dry the fabric without taking out the excess liquid because it can make a cloudy film form on the felt’s surface when it dries completely.

After draining the excess liquid, you can lay the felt out flat to dry. However, to make it form the shape of a figure, you can wrap it around the figure and leave it outside or in a place that gets enough air to dry.

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