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How to stiffen crocheted thread pieces?


LeapyearCynthia
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Hi y'all-

The not-so-little thread angel I was asking about a couple of weeks ago is done.  She turned out beautifully and is about 9" tall.  I am now working on snowflakes with the same #10 thread.

Anyhoo, I need advice on how to stiffen these pieces.  There are so many methods out there - glue/water mixture, cornstarch/water mixture, dipping, brushing ...

Enough to make my head swim and wonder what the most effective method is???  

I know y'all will guide me in the right direction, and I truly appreciate your help 😊

20220118_155423.jpg

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That's lovely!  I mostly make flat doilies and use only a little spray starch just to help them keep their shape, they're not stiff, but your angel is going to need more than that.

3 thoughts, all of these will work, 2 are cheaper than the last one.  1- a solution of simple syrup, which is 1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part boiling water, then cooled.  Get some wax paper if you don't have any (it works better for covering bowls heated in the microwave better than plastic wrap, so you'll get use out of the rest of the box). Make a cone with a circle of wax paper that will fit into the skirt, you will probably have to use more than 1 cone so it is sturdy enough, or make a cone out of cardboard and cover that with the wax paper cone.  Soak angel and squeeze out excess, insert cone under skirt and lay her on her back on a piece of wax paper and spread out the lace on each wing.  Let dry.  If you decide to pin out her wings like you would a doily, be SURE to use rustproof pins, I think I got mine at Walmart.  

2-Same as above except with a 1:1 solution white glue and water.  I think this makes the item a tiny bit less stiff than the simple syrup, but I've used it on smaller angels and snowflakes.

3-There is a product you can buy called 'stiffen quick', Joannes' carries it.  I have some, but seldom use it because I think either of the above work better--this is the least 'sturdy-stiff' of the 3.

 

Edited by Granny Square
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I use the Glue and water or a product called Stiffy.  It depends on how much you use as to how stiff the piece gets.

Down here in Florida, we have to be careful as to how much we use, so the humidity does not loosen the item.

Here are several angels I stiffened.

December 2011 Table 012.jpg

Edited by Tampa Doll
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@Granny Squareso to dip or not to dip?  I think I will go with the glue, the thought of using sugar quite frankly scares me.  I can't stand sticky unless it's going in my big mouth 😂  And then comes the figuring out something big enough to rest her on while she's drying ..... do they make a cone that big, or maybe I'll crush and shape some paper then cover it  with plastic .... Hmmmm 🤔

**and then of course I go back and re-read your response for the third go and realize you have already educated me.  I'm thinking they don't teach us Tennesseeans to read very well!!**

Edited by LeapyearCynthia
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This is my downfall.  I love working with thread but hate the stiffening and shaping.  I made one large angel.  I gave it away and dont have a photo.  I made a form to shape it from styrofoam.  I  had to buy 2 styrofoam cones, cut one or both and put them back together  to make what I needed.  Then I covered it with plastic wrap. I wanted styrofoam so I could pin it out.  I cant imagine getting a nice shape making my own paper form. I use diluted white glue.   Painting on method seemed to take forever.  Dip and squeeze out excess seems better to me.  Either is messy.   I have a couple of gallon ziploc bags full of thread ornaments just waiting to be stiffened.

How are you going to shape the wings?

Edited by bgs
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I dip with the simple syrup because you have to make more than you do for white glue+water -- It's not like you can boil a tablespoon of water + tablespoon of sugar, but you can stiffen a snowflake with that amount of water + glue, and I usually paint the latter on with my finger.  

That makes sense Bgs, on needing more reinforcement for bigger angels to hold them up as they 'set' -- I've only make smaller angels (like 6" or so), so the physics were more on my side.  I'm thinking tho, that it might be hard to find a Styrofoam cone that fits the angel - I made a (yarn) Christmas tree eons ago that was probably a bit over 12" high and then couldn't find a cone that fit, so I had to improvise.  

 

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I use the Styrofoam to put the stiffened things to dry, be they flat or formed.  It is easier to put the pins in and pull them out.  Make sure you use rustles pins.  Ones that do not rust.

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Amen on the rust proof pins, I learned that the hard way as a kid living in Hawaii, where the humidity and temp are both usually in the 80s (so probably not unlike Tampa) - I left a metal hoop and the needle in/on some embroidery for just a a few days (nothing was wet to start with) and had rust marks on the fabric that would not wash out.

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15 hours ago, Granny Square said:

I dip with the simple syrup because you have to make more than you do for white glue+water -- It's not like you can boil a tablespoon of water + tablespoon of sugar, but you can stiffen a snowflake with that amount of water + glue, and I usually paint the latter on with my finger.  

That makes sense Bgs, on needing more reinforcement for bigger angels to hold them up as they 'set' -- I've only make smaller angels (like 6" or so), so the physics were more on my side.  I'm thinking tho, that it might be hard to find a Styrofoam cone that fits the angel - I made a (yarn) Christmas tree eons ago that was probably a bit over 12" high and then couldn't find a cone that fit, so I had to improvise.  

 

I had to buy multiple cones and disks cut cones apart and then use the parts to make the form I needed.  Did you notice I said I have only made one angel like that?  Had a heck of a time finding a box to ship it in too.

Edited by bgs
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Great thread! I basically do as all have said here. I found different size styro-cones at craft stores years ago and cover with plastic wrap each time I've used them. I tried the simple syrup years ago and a week later had ants having a field day all over my large angel. For shipping, I use styro-popcorn for stuffing in and around. They make it perfectly to their destinations. I use Mod Podge for stiffening and dilute it with water if necessary.

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I have heard about bug problems with simple syrup but have never had that happen, and the first time I used it was on an ornament I made about 40 years ago, and still use every year.  It is stored in a large cardboard box with no wrapping beyond tissue paper, in other words it's not encased in plastic or especially safe from bugs.

Mod Podge would have never occurred to me - is it as stiff as glue water or the simple syrup?  Does it make the thread a little dull (like glue water does, a tiny bit, but is not a big deal with white snowflakes or angels)

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I use liquid starch. It can be diluted if you don't want items to be very stiff. I have made forms using aluminum foil. I make doilies with fine thread and foil balls work for the ruffled edges. I stay away from sugar starch as it can attract bugs!

Edited by TATS
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9 minutes ago, TATS said:

I use liquid starch. It can be diluted if you don't want items to be very stiff. I have made forms using aluminum foil. I make doilies with fine thread and foil balls work for the ruffled edges. I stay away from sugar starch as it can attract bugs!

I always wondered what people used to form those big ruffled edges.  I didnt think about using aluminum foil to help make forms.

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It might be a non-issue, but I'd be afraid of the aluminum foil reacting to the starch, or otherwise staining (bad experience with non-rust-proof pins long ago).

I've read that crumpled wax paper was used 'in the olden days' for supporting the ruffles as the starch dried.  I actually made a (tiny ruffled) vintage pattern to 'play with the concept' recently, and the wax paper worked fine.  The small ruffles on my example 'stayed put' just fine with spray starch/water (the sort of starch that you are suppose to use when ironing shirt collars or whatever, which is what I use for doilies - not stiff at all, just gives a little 'body'.

I wonder if humidity has something to do with 'sugar-water attracting bugs' (it's not very humid where I've lived since my teen years, and trust me I lived in Hawaii as a kid so I 'get' humidity, and the stories I could tell you about the bugs there, oy!).  Or whether that occurs if you don't keep the solution at a boil long enough.

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I haven't had a problem using aluminum foil, but I have with non- rust proof pins. I will try wax paper next ruffled doily, never thought to try that! Thank you for the suggestion!

 

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