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Old 02-27-2006, 06:14 AM
purplepixi purplepixi is offline
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How to stiffen fabric?

Hi,

This is my fist post, but I've been loitering for sometime. Hopefully someone can help me.

I've been making little gift boxes for a while, mainly out of gift wrap, but also out of other things I can find.

I would like to start to make them out of fabric, as £ for £, the materials are actually cheaper.

However I'm having trouble getting the to stay stiff.

I've tried PVA (white craft glue), watered down and painted on, which seemed ok, but after making the boxes they go soft again.

I don't want to buy a commercial fabric stiffener, as they are rather costly and will not make the boxes cost effective.

I've also tired some needlework ideas, sugar solution and flour paste - neither of these were strong enough.

I tried a spray on clear gloss paint, this made no difference. And an external clear gloss paint, this didn't actually dry clear, and took too long to dry, 24 hours, and was a big disaster.

I need to prepare the material before I make the boxes, and I would like them to keep their fabric effect, as the PVA does make them seem a bit like plastic.

I've read that some of you use wallpaper paste. How hard does this make the fabric, I need it to be very rigid, and does it loose it's stiffness after it's been folded?

If anyone has any other ideas on how to permanently stiffen fabric, I'd be really greatful to find out.

Thanks for your help

Laura
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Old 02-27-2006, 06:41 AM
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Mary Woodul Mary Woodul is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Hi Laura, welcome to Mixed Media. I'm not sure if I will be giving you a good answer but have you tried making size out of rabbit skin granules for making glue? Here in Mexico I find it at the old hardware stores but I wouldn't know where to find it elsewhere.

In the sticky's we have in this forum there is one on helful hints and you might like to go through those to see if there is anything there that could answer your question.
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:27 AM
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Jakeally Jakeally is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

I only know of PVA for this sort of stiffening I'm afraid.
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Old 02-27-2006, 07:08 PM
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Alison2 Alison2 is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Hi Laura,

There is a fabric stiffener like a glue - called Stiffy. As you're using the £ sign, I'm guessing you're in the UK - not sure where you can get it here - try a net search but I know I've seen it somewhere, probably at the Hobbycraft shows etc. You can also get it on line from Dick Blick.

There's also a product that Deco art make that will stiffen fabric - called Clear glaze medium. Obviously it's designed for ....clear glazing...but my decorative painting teacher had us use it to stiffen fabric. That might be worth a try. You can get that at Hobbycraft stores.

Hope you find something that does the trick!

Alison2
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:56 PM
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dbclemons dbclemons is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

The hide glue suggestion from Mary is something I would second; although, there are varying brands of quality. Generally the powdered type is best.

Methylcellulose is commonly used for wallpaper paste. I've used it for sizing paper and as a pigment binder. As as size, it can cause the paper to get very stiff (like cardboard,) but I've never tried it on fabric; although, I'd guess it would be the same. Casein emulsion might also work well. I can't imagine these would be better than PVA, but might be worth a look.
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:25 PM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Have you ever used the GAC 400 from Golden Paints. It is designed just for this purpose of stiffening and holding the shape of fabrics. Read the directions carefully. It is a simple process.

I used it on some drier sheets and it is really tough stuff.

Watch out now, the sta-wet sheets are next on the list. Is nothing safe in my world.......absolutely not.
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Old 02-28-2006, 03:27 PM
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normanhotep normanhotep is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

I did this in a design class years ago with plain Knox gelatin, but I don't remember the proportions. I remember trying to handle the cloth after dipping it in the boiling pot of gelatin, but it worked.

Some students were using a mix of Elmer's glue and plaster. But, unfortunately, I don't have the proportions for that mixture either. That was easier to handle but took longer to set.
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Old 02-28-2006, 05:20 PM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

A book I have been reading on bookbinding suggests a solution of PVA mixed with wheat-flour paste for lining fabric for book covers.

Cut a piece of paper slightly larger than the fabric. Apply glue to paper- right to the edge. Leave a few minutes until tacky. Before dry place fabric in middle of paper, face up, rub down with bone folder (or smooth plastic ruler). A moist sponge will help remove remaining creases. Turn over and place on clean flat board, continuing to remove creases. The glued border of the paper should be allowed to stick to the board. As the paper dries it will shrink slightly and provide a relatively stiff book-cloth.

This might be suitable for your project.
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Old 02-28-2006, 07:36 PM
dolittle dolittle is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Just a thought - I recall my Grandmother crotcheting items & dipping them in a solution to stiffen them & make into swan shapes. Perhaps you could contact a craft group that does crotchet?
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Old 02-28-2006, 08:56 PM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Another thought. How about starch in its pure form. Or, something like stitch withcery between two sheets.
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Old 03-01-2006, 12:30 PM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

I've read that transparent liquid sculpey will stiffen and waterproof fabric. I can't find the link at the minute, if I do I'll post it.
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Old 03-04-2006, 08:49 AM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Found that link, take a look at the bottom of the page http://www.michaels.com/art/online/d...icleNum=as0056
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Old 03-04-2006, 09:53 AM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

Thanks for that link Claire - I got carried away reading all the other tips and hints!
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Old 03-04-2006, 05:35 PM
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

There is a material available in fabric stores for fusing to fabric that makes it stiff enough to use for making your own windowshades.
This stuff is pretty stiff, but one side of your fabric will be white. I suppose if you want the fabric pattern on both sides, you could fuse this heavy stuff to one piece of fabric, then use stitch witchery or heat-n-bond to attach another piece of fabric to the other side. That would make it really stiff, and you can still cut and sew through it.

Other than this, Acrylic gel medium works, too.

Cyn
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Old 03-05-2006, 04:32 PM
Monrea Monrea is offline
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Re: How to stiffen fabric?

I'll jump in here...been sewing forever! There is a technique that came out a few years ago that was a bit hit in the sewing/quilting world. Making fabric covered boxed. The inside stiffener was Timtex (USA), fused to the fabric (fabric on both sides of the Timtex) with Wonderunder. You are in the UK it looks like, so you'll know Timtex as pelmet vilene, and the wonderunder as Bondaweb or craft fuse. Fuse your fabric to both sides of the siffener, cut your pattern out and sew it up. Or glue or whatever. The book that made this so big here in the US is called "Fast Fun and Easy Fabric Bowls", the second book was "Boxes". HTH
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