How to Stiffen Felt

I’m currently working on a project that requires the use of stiffened felt.  You can buy it already stiffened at the craft store, but then you are limited to the colors and sizes that they carry.  Also, if you know me, you know I am particular about what kind of felt I use.  It was surprisingly easy and cheap to stiffen the felt myself.  There are lots of different methods out there, but for my purposes, I found using regular old white school glue worked great!  So here you go, here’s how to stiffen felt with school glue.

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Mix approximately one part school glue to one part warm water.  I am too lazy to measure when it comes to this sort of thing, so really I just dumped some glue into my bowl and added some warm water.  Pretty sure I ended up with more water than glue, but it still worked perfectly… and saved me on glue.  Make sure to mix it until it’s mostly smooth.  You don’t want the chunks of glue sticking to your felt.

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Cut your pieces of felt slightly larger than you need them to be.  The felt will shrink up a bit and warp as it dries.  For this reason I also recommend cutting out any shapes AFTER stiffening.  Submerge your felt in the mixture and make sure the whole piece gets nice and soaked.  If you are doing multiple colors, start with the lightest, as the dyes may bleed.

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Remove your felt and gently wring it out over your bowl.  Don’t twist or pull it.  A light squeeze to get out the extra moisture is all you need.  You still want it to be wet, just not sopping wet.  Sorry, no photo.  Hard to do when your hands are covered in glue water!

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Lay your felt on wax paper and smooth it out flat.  Don’t worry that it’s wrinkled from wringing it out, we will fix that later.  Let it dry completely.  We have lovely 100 degree weather right now, so I took mine outside to dry faster.  At least the heat is good for something!

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Once your felt has dried completely, it should be nice and stiff.  Now is that part where we take care of the wrinkles.  Just sandwich it between two cloths and iron.  It will come out perfect and ready for your craft project!  (If you are using acrylic or polyester felt, just try not to leave the iron on there too long.  That stuff is made out of plastic.)

Cutesy Crafts: How to stiffen felt with white school glue!

Just a little FYI, stiffened felt will show every hole that you put in it with a pin.  I recommend taping any patterns that you use instead of pinning.  Hope you enjoyed learning how to stiffen felt! Check back next week to see what I make with all of it!  **edit: click here to see what I made!**

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61 Responses to How to Stiffen Felt

  1. can you tell me which colors of felt you used for this project? i’m trying to make these for my nursery and want to purchase the same colors you chose (from joggles) but I’m afraid I’m going to order the wrong ones and be stuck with a bunch of felt I can’t use! Pretty please? 🙂

  2. this is great!! but i have a question: did your glue washout? or if you haven’t washed your project yet, do you think it would?? cause i feel like if i wash it, it might….

  3. How long did it take to dry completely? i understand you put them outside in 100 degree temps and currently its winter and I’m up a rainy/snowy mountain…but I’m trying to get a gauge of how long I’ll have to wait til I can get to the next part of this project. Thanks!!

  4. I am making an alligator costume and my head piece is complete but the teeth are less than fearsome because they’re not stiff 🙂 Do you think I would be safe to apply the glue water solution very carefully to each tooth? Does the solution distort the felt at all? Thank you so much!

    • It might work to squirt a little on it. I definitely would NOT squeeze it out at all to prevent wrinkles. That’s going to make it take a long time to dry. The felt is going to flop over when it’s wet too, so you will have to be able to lay it out flat somehow. Maybe try on a scrap piece first so you can see what it does.

  5. Have you tried putting the stiffened felt through your Silhouette Came and if so what are results like?
    Was wondering if the stiffened fibres (obviously after it was dry!) would help it both adhere to the mat and leave a crisp, cut edge.
    I’m using a Portrait, so slightly smaller but other wise the same and really liked your tips for cutting felt using the Silhouette machines. I have grip issues with my hand so anything I can do to reduce the amount of scissor work is a huge deal!

    • I haven’t tried that yet, but maybe I’ll give it a go next time I have my Cameo out. My gut tells me that it would be too hard for the blade to cut through it. I have tried it on my manual die cutting machine and it worked great. I’ll let you know if I try on my Cameo.

  6. I have kind of an odd question. Does it smell like white glue after it’s dried? I would like to do this to make some car air-fresheners. I will add scented oil after it’s dried and cut into shapes. But I don’t want them to smell like a combination of glue and scented oil lol.

    • Haha. Funny. I went and smelled the hot air balloons hanging in my daughters’ room, and they don’t seem to smell like anything. They’ve been hanging there a while though, so I don’t know how long it takes for the smell to go away. Sounds like a neat project!

  7. What a wonderful idea! I would have never thought of white glue! Here I was thinking I’d have to buy stiffened felt. 🙂 However, have you ever tried a product called Stiffy? It’s a liquid designed to stiffen fabric, ribbons, paper and the like and I know it’s permanent and water resistant when dry–probably an acrylic base. Worth a try on felt at any rate. I’ll have to experiment and let you know how it works.

  8. This is a great idea and I will try it. I have a thought about cutting out patterns from it, if you iron the shiny side of freezer paper on with your pattern on it you can cut out accurately without leaving pin marks.

  9. I’ve been looking for a way to stiffen large sizes of felt circles that are 10″ and 12″ and this worked great for me. The only problem I had was trying to dry them all. Finding a place to lay them was an issue but I spread out aluminum foil and laid them out on it. They stuck to it but most of them peeled off easily. Thanks for the great tips and help Jessica… 🙂

    • You can hand stitch, but I wouldn’t try using a machine. It gets too hard. When you hand sew, just be careful because the holes stick around if you make a mistake and need to take out the stitching. Also, use tape instead of pins to hold your pattern on the felt. Hope that helps!

  10. When I work with wool I draw my pattern onto freezer paper and then iron the freezer paper (shiny side down) to the wool. I can then cut without pinning. I’m not sure if this would work with your stiffened felt but you might give it a try. It makes it easy to cut out your patterns.

    Marsha Heironimus

    • You aren’t the first person to ask. Haha! I went and smelled something that I made with the stiffened felt, and they didn’t seem to have a glue smell. It had been a while after I made them though, so I don’t know how long it takes for the smell to go away.

  11. Hello. Thank you for your tutorial. I would like to ask what is the purpose of the wax paper? Is it OK to just lay the felt flat on table? If it is necessary to use the wax paper, where can I get those from? Thank you.

    • The wax paper protects your table from the water and glue. It also keeps the felt from sticking as it dries since there is glue on it. I got mine in the grocery store next to the foil and plastic wrap. You can also use freezer paper or possibly parchment paper.

  12. Hi! Thanks so much for this idea! 🙂 I would like to know what happens to the stiffen felt if it comes in contact with water? Will is be not stiff any more?

  13. Hi

    I just happened to stumble across yr helpful site whilst looking for a way to stiffen felt.When you say school glue, do you mean like the PVA craft glue? I’m in Australia and worried ill end up with felt which has white glue stains all over


    • School glue is like the white Elmer’s glue. I don’t know what you have in Australia. I just read something about it online and it looks like Elmers is PVA based. As long as it dries clear you should be ok.

  14. Hi. I’m planning a craft where I will need to stiffen a sheet of felt about 1 meter square. Do you think this method would still work or would it be too tough to remove excess solution? If I were to apply the solution with a spray bottle to one side would that perhaps work?

    • You could try a spray bottle. If that doesn’t work, you can always try again, soaking it. The glue just has to get all the way through the felt. Try to do it on a sunny day, if possible, so you can lay it out in the sun.

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