How to Make Fabric Stiffener: 5 DIY Fabric Stiffener Recipes

Fabric stiffeners are essential for clothing-related projects. If you are into making your own clothes and say you need to stiffen the collar of that shirt you’re tailoring, you’re going to need a fabric stiffener.

What if you can’t buy a commercial fabric stiffener? Your best bet would be to make one yourself. But how to make fabric stiffener? Well, there are a bunch of DIY methods in which you can produce some at home.

How to Make Fabric Stiffener

These methods mostly consist of ingredients and equipment already available at your home. So you don’t have to worry about having to spend a lot of money on your DIY fabric stiffener.

Why Fabric Stiffeners Are Important?

But before I go deep into how you are going to produce fabric stiffener at home, let’s talk about why you need to in the first place. The fabric stiffeners in the market are not always available. Also, they can sometimes be more expensive than they should be.

When trying to make shirts or any other clothing piece that has collars, cuffs, button plates, tabs, and whatnot, you are going to need stiffeners. Commercial stiffening sprays do a pretty good job of doing so.

However, if it is not available, you can use the following methods to make your own fabric stiffener at home.  

How to Make Fabric Stiffener: 5 Homemade DIY fabric stiffener Recipes

I could think of 5 different methods and items that you can use to make fabric stiffeners. Some of these items are readily available at homes, while others can be found at any crafts supply store at a fairly low price.

Keeping in mind that some stiffening jobs require permanent results while some may require considerably temporary stiffening, I have compiled these solutions.

1. Elmer’s Glue

This glue is one of the best choices to stiffen fabric with. Elmer’s glue has been certified to be safe and non-toxic on the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), so it can be used on your clothing for this task.

How to Make It?

  • Take equal parts of Elmer’s glue and water
  • Mix them together using a mixer or a whisk
  • It should form a thin but creamy texture that can now be used on your fabric for stiffening

Tip: Use this solution on your clothing piece and let it dry. After drying, you’re going to want to wash that cloth and get rid of any residue glue in there.

Read Next: Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Fabric Paint

2. Corn Starch

Corn starch is something almost everyone has in their kitchen and something that can be used as a fabric stiffener. And as it is an organic ingredient, I guarantee you it is harmless as well.

How to Make It?

  • Take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Fill a bowl with ¼ cup of cold water, and keep another bowl of ¼ cup of boiling water
  • Mix the cornstarch with the cold water slowly
  • After a solution is formed, start adding it to the boiling hot water
  • You should be left with a thick consistency in the bowl

Note: Use this thick creamy solution on your fabric and see how it impacts the results. Be sure to wash the cloth using warm water and soap after stiffening, so no residue cornstarch solution remains.

3. Flour Starch

Besides corn starch, you can also use flour starch. Flour can function similarly to corn starch and deliver similar if not better results. This is also an organic ingredient so rest assured it is non-toxic as well.

How to Make It?

  • Take 1 tablespoon of flour, add it to ½ cup of cold water in a bowl
  • Similar to the corn starch method, keep another bowl of ½ a cup of boiling water ready
  • Mix the flour and the cold water to form a creamy consistency
  • Then slowly add it to the boiling hot water
  • Mix it again till the thickness is gravy-like
  • Let it cool down to room temperature before using it for stiffening your fabrics

Note: The only con of this method is that the stiffening won’t last for too long. Being a natural stiffener, flour stiffening may get soft after a couple of washes. However, it is easy to make and use, so you can use this as a quick fix.

4. Gelatin

Similar to cornstarch and flour, you can also use gelatin for stiffening fabric. This is best for the silkier fabrics, for mild stiffening and not something permanent.

How to Make It?

The method for making this stiffener is fairly similar to the previous ones.

  • Take 1 teaspoon of gelatin and put it in a bowl
  • Add 2 cups of normal-temperature water and mix with the gelatin
  • Leave this mixture for 30 minutes or so
  • Prepare some hot water and add about 4 cups into the mixture slowly
  • The solution should be comparatively thin

Tip: While using this natural stiffener, you have to dip the piece of clothing that needs stiffening directly into the bowl of the mixture.

5. Rice Starch

Another very unconventional way of making fabric stiffeners is extracting the starch from the rice. This is such an underrated thickener that not many people consider how effective it is at delivering comparatively permanent results.

How to Make It?

  • Take a bowl full of rice and start boiling it in water like how you would for cooking rice
  • Let it boil for a while till some of the starch has been extracted from the rice
  • Then separate the rice and the rice water
  • Don’t let the consistency be too thick, or it will lose its stiffening ability
  • Let the water has cooled down enough to be able to use it for stiffening
  • But don’t let it cool down to room temperature or it may lose its value

Tip: Make sure to dip the fabric in the stiffening water and let it dry in the sun afterward for the best results. Of all the methods of making fabric stiffeners, this is one of the most effective ones for permanent stiffening.

Should I Buy Commercial Stiffening Sprays?

This is somewhat debatable, to be honest. Whether you should invest in a stiffening spray or not is somewhat up to you. However, I will say it has its pros and cons, and you can see if it is for you.


  • Easy to use and can deliver quick results upon spraying
  • You can find it readily available at art and craft stores
  • Using it does not take any preparation other than just placing newspapers under your fabric for preventing making a mess
  • Upon drying, it delivers impressively stiff results


  • Not always available
  • You may not want to spend all that money when you can make stiffeners at home

Final Words

Do these methods seem too tough for you? The 5 methods of making fabric stiffeners that I discussed above should have helped you produce your desired hardener at home.

If you ask for our opinion, I would say you should opt for cornstarch or flour stiffeners if you want more temporary stiffening. However, if you need a more permanent result, I recommend using rice starch.

I hope you had a fun time learning about making homemade fabric stiffeners by using these easy methods and simple ingredients.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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