There are so many beautiful fabrics and so many amazing creative projects to undertake, but sometimes you just need a little extra help in stabilising particularly soft fabric to make it more manageable to work with. A temporary stiffener on a drapey fabric makes all the difference.
The good news is that you have options. It might be stitching the fabric onto tissue paper or using a dissolvable product. Sometimes people use sugar water, although gelatine is another option. Think of the gelatine people would drink dissolved in water with the promise that it would strengthen their fingernails! There is little evidence to suggest that it ever worked on nails, but it does help firm up fabrics while they’re worked on, and then it washes out perfectly to leave the material in its original state.
It’s a technique sometimes used by companies that produce silk flowers, who soak the fabric in gelatine and water and stretch it out to dry, leaving it like large pieces of paper. A gelatine solution can also work for chiffon and charmeuse in addition to silks.
Mix the solution using a teaspoon of powdered gelatine and 500ml of regular tap water and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Heat 1.1l of water to boiling and then add the rested gelatine mix to the hot water. Remove the solution from the heat and then soak the fabric for an hour before pouring away the water. Because of the gentle nature of the fabric, you should not wring it out; place it on a towel and roll up before squeezing out any excess water instead. Air dry it if you can.
Once your project is finished, rinse the gelatine out in warm, soapy water. For more information on how to use gelatine to stiffen fabric, see Sew News.
There are so many beautiful fabrics available today in every imaginable colour and pattern. For the best range of cotton fabric online, visit websites of experts like Higgs and Higgs.
Now that you have an understanding of how you can make your fabric easier to work with, the hardest part might be deciding which project to tackle next! Knowing how easy it is to stiffen soft material temporarily, will you ever work with stiffer fabric again?