Inside: How to stiffen lace with starch, different types of starch and how to choose the right one for your project.
Do you have a doily or a crocheted bookmark that you’d like to stiffen? Let me show you how easy it is to block your crochet or tatted lace with starch.
I was always scared to block my crochet items. The few times I had tried in the past, the effect hadn’t lasted long and my handmade items hadn’t held shape at all. Of course, that did’t stop me from experimenting. I prefer physical methods like using Spenzi line (this method here) or changing my needle or yarn size.
I know 10 ways to make crochet items hold shape but my favorite remains using starch because it so easy!
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How to starch a doily with starch
The procedure is quite simple. You just need some starch – either in powder form, ready to use spray or liquid starch.
What kind of starch should I use?
There are varying degrees to which each kind of starch holds.
I have been testing the three types for the past 13 years and found that some starch works well with heavy items while others are good for lighter ones. Also sometimes, there may be flakiness or residue left. Here is my observation.
Starch Spray/ Fabric stiffener
Spray is light hold. It’s good for very light material like cloth or fine lace. You can’t use it to block heavier doilies or placemats.
You can layer starch spray a few times to get the required thickness. Just spray it till it is wet, let it dry and then spray again testing it after drying to see if it is stiff enough. One drawback to this is that your finished item may or may not be uniformly stiff. But it does work for light cloth, ribbon lace or very fine crochet or tatting lace.
The brand that I use is the normal one available for clothes in our laundry section. It is called Merito. I have used it for stiffening thin lace crowns and ribbons. I have also used it to stiffen picots only on tatted items leaving the main area without starch.
One very good starch spray is Aleene’s Original Stiffen Quick. It is specially for craft work so it works good. You can use the normal ones that we use for clothing or linen at home too.
Yes, Fabric Stiffener spray is available in the UK. Here is the link.
Powder has the strongest hold. You can mix it to a thick paste or water it down to make a lighter version. There is one drawback to it, which I’m not sure if only I have noticed or other tatters feel too, powder starch dries with a slight powdery finish. There may be flakes or residue.
If your item is white or off-white then this is no problem because you can dust it off. Incase your item is dark colored, there may be residual starch left after drying. Ironing it sometimes helps in removing it but often I find that it just gives a darker patch as the powder burns. If your project is white, then be sure to place it between muslin cloth or a towel while ironing. Heat cause the the starch to turn yellowish or brown.
The best way to counteract that is to dilute the starch as much as is possible. I use 1 part starch to 10 parts water. You can go up to 12 or 14 parts water depending on the brand you are using. Most brands have instructions for diluting on the box so be sure to read it.
You can find powder starch in the laundry section of any market. It is the oldest known type. You may have seen your grandma use it too. 🙂
For those of you in the UK this is an example of Powder Starch that I am referring to.
Staflo is what comes to mind when anyone hears liquid starch. It is the concentrated form and perfect for making kids crafts and slime! But there are many more types available.
Liquid starch is suitable for both dark and light items. You can use it in either heavy or light item too because you are soaking the whole item in the mixture for a few minutes. Once your item is soaked through, it will get stiffer inside out as it dries.
There are many Liquid Starch brands available in the market. I have used a local brand for the project below but this one comes highly recommended. Many of my crocheting friends have tried it and say that it is best for ornaments and heavy doilies or hats.
Can I use Corn Starch instead of laundry starch?
Yes you can! Corn starch works the same way as powder laundry starch. You have to boil it before applying. You can starch doilies and lace items with cornstarch with the below method.
Step by step procedure to starch a doily:
- A large bowl to mix starch and soak item (something like this.)
- A plastic tray or foam mat to dry your item
- Pins to hold item in place if you are using foam mat. (This foam mat is specially for blocking. It comes with pins.)
- Start by mixing your starch if you are using powder or liquid starch. Read instructions on product case to see exact way to mix your brand of starch. Usually the method is same. Just add water 1:10 ratio. 1 part starch 10 part water. Stir till dissolved. Powder form may need boiling. Check the instructions on your box.
- Dip your item in the bowl of starch mix for 5 minutes. Let it soak up the starch.
- Drip dry for a few seconds before transferring to drying tray.
- Lay your item on a flat surface like plastic tray or foam mat. Smooth out the wrinkles, fix the pattern so it is nice and flat how it should be.
- If you have many picots or if you feel the edges are curling up, pin the edge to hold it in shape. Sometimes the lace will be curling up, so you can use pins to hold it in shape.
- Let it dry for a full 24hrs in a shade. Don’t be in a hurry to dry it with hot iron or in the sun. Starch turns brown under heat and sunlight.
- Once your item is dry, place it between two sheets of wet handkerchief, muslin or towelette and press on cool to warm mode of iron. Don’t use steam.
- That’s it your done.
That’s it. You can use this method to starch a doily, a bookmark or any light weight item.
Will this method stiffen baskets?
If it is a lace basket yes. If it isn’t airy and light, you may need to use another method like glue or this method with fishing line or crochet it with para cord or a rope.
Can I use this method to stiffen my Amigurami crochet?
Sorry, this is not the right way to stiffen Amigurami toys or bunny ears. I’d use a Spenzi/Fishing Line or change the yarn to something more stiff.
I hope this post was helpful. Please remember this is just my experience with stiffening crochet or tatting lace items. I’ love to hear what worked for you.