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.

Things You'll Need

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

Glue Your Dry Goods

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.

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

Step 4

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

Step 5

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

Stiffen the Stuff With Starch

Step 1

Cover your work surface with plastic.

Step 2

Spread the burlap on the work area.

Step 3

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

Step 4

Add a second application of starch, if needed.

Bond That Burlap

Step 1

Heat your iron to the cotton setting.

Step 2

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

Step 3

Place the burlap on the ironing board or work surface.

Step 4

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

Step 5

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

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.

References

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