Crocheting Blog

Creating Heirlooms: How To Stiffen Crochet Lace With White Glue

Turn your crochet lace into a cherished heirloom! Protect your fine threadwork and make your stitches stand out when you block and stiffen your project.  It’s easy and you don't need any fancy tools or chemicals to transform your work into a beautiful keepsake.

How to stiffen crochet lace collage

Technique and product options

There are several different techniques and products available to stiffen your crochet work. The oldest method uses sugar. That’s right! Yummy, sweet, white sugar. I have read that it works well, but there are drawbacks. The process can be sticky and messy. The finished projects do not fair well near water. You need to take special care when storing your pieces because if stored in the wrong environment, they may attract pests. (Yuck!)

Then there are the commercial products that you can buy at your local department store. You can find spray and liquid starch with the laundry supplies, or there is fabric stiffener that you find in the craft department. These are designed to be safe for most fabrics, but testing a small sample is always a good idea. If you try one of these be sure to follow all of the manufacturers instructions for the best results.

My favorite technique, and the one I am going to show you today, uses all purpose white craft glue. I am a big fan of using things that I have on hand, and there are always a few bottles of glue at our house! This method works great and chances are you everything you need to get started.

Materials

  • All purpose white craft glue (your favorite brand will do just fine)
  • Water
  • Magic marker
  • Jar with tight fitting lid (a mason jar or a pickle or jam jar)
  • Shallow bowl or container (I cut the bottom off a 64 oz plastic orange juice bottle)
  • Spoon or spatula
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Paper towels
  • Blocking board (Don’t have one? Here's how to make your own blocking board)
  • Rust proof safety pins or blocking pins
  • Items you are going to stiffen

Directions

1. Gather your materials. You may want to cover your work area — just in case.

Materials for stiffening crochet lace

Photos via Crochet Nirvana

2. Make your stiffening solution. A little goes a long way, but you need to make sure that you have enough to really cover and saturate the items.

The basic recipe is: one part glue to two parts water.

  • Measure 1/4 cup water and pour it in the jar. Using the marker, mark where the water line is.
  • Dump the water out.
  • Fill the jar with glue to the line (1/4 cup).
  • Add 1/2 cup water to the jar.
  • Close the lid and shake until well blended. It takes a bit so keep on shaking!

Note: This works well for small, open items (like the snowflakes). If your items are heavier and denser a thicker solution (one part glue to one part water) may be in order.

Make the glue and water solution to stiffen lace
3. Pour the solution in the shallow bowl or container.

Pour the stiffening solution into a container
4. Lay out a few paper towels for blotting.

5. Put the item in the solution. Flip it over and make sure that it is fully submerged and thoroughly saturated.

place the item in the stiffening solution
6. Lift the item with the spoon or spatula and let the excess solution run off.

Lift the item out of the stiffening solution
7. Lay out the item on paper towels, straighten and blot gently.

Remove item from stiffening solution and blot gently
8. Transfer to the blocking board. (If you are using your “good” board you may want to cover it with a layer or two of plastic wrap or wax paper.)

9. Stretch the item out to the desired shape and secure using rust proof safety pins or blocking pins. It works best if you go from top to bottom and side to side to ensure straight even lines. When blocking I’m a firm believer in using plenty of pins – more is better!

Transfer to item to blocking board and pin to secure shape

Remember whatever shape you pin your item into is what it will look like when it is dry – so make sure everything is exactly where you want it!!

10. Now repeat with all your pieces. When you are finished, set your blocking board in a safe place and let your work dry. Overnight is best.

If your pieces are not as stiff as you want or need them to be, go ahead and re-dip them. The second coat should give you the definition you are looking for. To add shine, lightly spray the dried finished pieces with a semi or high gloss spray sealer.

Clean up and storage

When you are finished, pour the solution back in the jar and close it tightly. Store it in a cool, dry place indefinitely. The glue and water will separate, when you are ready to use it again shake well and you are good to go!  I've used a glue solution that was more than two years old and it worked fine!

All of your tools and the work area can be cleaned with hot, soapy water.

Once everything is dry, your crochet handiwork is ready. To display my snowflake and angel ornaments I added a jump ring and a lace loop to each for easy hanging.

The glue should remain stiff and stable for years to come making it perfect for your crochet lace doilies, decorations and ornaments that are destine to become cherished family heirlooms!

18 Comments

Katie Ann

This is great! Is there an easy way to save this blog post to my Craftsy account?

Reply
Victoria Shaw

Hi, if you are using an iPad you can save this to iBooks with a PDF

Reply
Katie Ann

This is great! Is there an easy way to save this blog post to my Craftsy account?

Reply
Katie Ann

This is great! Is there an easy way to save this blog post to my Craftsy account?

Reply
Katerina Atkinson

I am crocheting bells and stiffening them with sugar solution. Your glue and water sounds better (I am a bit worried about “ant” problems the sugared dip can create). My question is: how do I prevent the glue dipped bell getting glued to my drying form (a plastic bottle) while drying? Any Ideas ?

Reply
Anne

Cover your form tightly with plastic wrap like Saran Wrap or Glad Wrap for angels, bells, or other 3-d shapes. You’ll find it will peel right off.

Reply
Donna

I made snowflakes for all the ladies in my Bible study group. I used your recipe and am anxiously awaiting to see how well this works. I added glitter after I laid them on parchment paper. After they are dry I’m going to glue on a couple of rhinestones to bling them completely out! I hope this works. The “stiffy” stuff at the craft stores is so expensive.

Reply
Nancy Kodama

I crochet angels for my Bible study group every year and use the commercial stiffener. My problem is that my ladies like to display them all year round and they slowly lose their shape, like the wings will start to droop. I believe it is due to the heat. My question is how can I prevent this? Does the spray that you mention, help to keep its shape.
Thank you.

Reply
Sandi

I have been told the home made is better than commercial. So I would suggest you use what she has said. Also spraying after dried completely spray with clear spray has been used to last much longer.

Reply
Marty

Simple and straightforward.
Thanks for the help.

Reply
Piotr

Hi. This is interesting way of stiffening crochet. My mum is knitting allot and she asked recently if i can research laminating her creations. I can find any usable information online. Can you help please?
Regards
Piotr

Reply
Dorothy

Hi
I want to turn the crocheted doilies into lampshades will they be stiff enough to hold their shape

Reply
Jo-Ann Libby

can I re-glue an item that didn’t set up the right way ?

Reply
Thu Nguyen

Hi,
Thank you for your tutorial. It’s really helpful 😍
I have a question. The color of my lace became dull after stiffening but only on the up side, the side that touched the board still had the same color. Is there any way to prevent the up side from getting dull?
Thanks for your help!

Reply

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