How to Stiffen Burlap Fabric

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Burlap adds an appealing rustic look to crafts and home decor, but its loose weave can make working with it difficult. Adding a temporary stiffener to the fabric lets you cut and shape it with less fuss, and some permanent stiffeners can also help with burlap’s tendency to fray.

How to Stiffen Burlap Fabric
(Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic sheeting
  • White craft glue or decoupage medium
  • Foam sponge brush
  • Liquid laundry starch
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
Step 1

Spread plastic on your work surface. Because burlap is woven very loosely, the stiffener will go through to the table if you don't protect it.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 2

Mix equal parts of white craft glue and water. If you prefer, you can also use a commercial decoupage medium.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 3

Unfold the burlap and place it on the covered work surface in a single layer.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 4

Apply the glue mixture to the burlap with a sponge brush in a thin, even layer. Allow the fabric to dry thoroughly.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 5

Apply a second coat of glue as needed to achieve the desired stiffness.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 1

Cover your work surface with plastic.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 2

Spread the burlap on the work area.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 3

Brush the liquid starch evenly over the fabric. Allow it to dry thoroughly.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 4

Add a second application of starch, if needed.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 1

Heat your iron to the cotton setting.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 2

Cut the fusible interfacing to the size of your burlap yardage.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 3

Place the burlap on the ironing board or work surface.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 4

Add the interfacing, with its shiny or textured adhesive side down.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media
Step 5

Press the stack with the iron to fuse them together. Allow the burlap to cool completely.

Kelly Lawrence/Demand Media

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Tips & Warnings

  • The glue or starch methods provide a stiffness that can be washed out. The interfacing provides a more permanent stability.
  • You can also use spray starch for a temporary fix.
  • If you don’t have plastic sheeting, substitute large garbage bags. For smaller projects, cover the work space with waxed paper.

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