Fabric stiffeners have a variety of different applications, but they're most commonly used in crafts and crochet to set and reinforce lace, ribbons and doilies. There are a number of different types of fabric stiffeners available, from store-bought liquid starch to homemade glue and water, but there are some universal rules for using this unique substance that will ensure your project achieves the look and longevity you're after.
Most brand-name fabric stiffeners come in either a regular bottle or spray bottle. As spray-bottle application is fairly self-explanatory, we'll concentrate on how to use regular bottles of fabric stiffener, such as Stiffy, Aleene's and Craft Pro. First, be sure to put on a good pair of gloves to keep your hands clean and dry. Though non-toxic, fabric stiffeners are very messy! Next, fill a large bowl or plastic bag with enough fabric stiffener to completely immerse your fabric and work the liquid into the material until it is wet throughout. Then remove the fabric and wring the excess stiffener back into the bowl. You're now ready to shape your fabric.
You can drape your wet fabric over virtually any object to mimic its shape, but some commonly used items include cups, bowls and balloons. While your fabric rests on its makeshift mold, be sure to continue draining the excess stiffener for a nice, even coat. Once your fabric is dry to the touch, carefully remove it from its form; if it still doesn't retain the form's shape, try giving it a little extra drying time. Any stray fabric stiffener should easily clean up with a little soap and warm water. Finally, fabric stiffeners can also be used as dying agents by adding water-based acrylic paint to the mix, and if the mix is ever too thick, you can always add water to thin it out.