A while ago, I purchased some cross stitch fabric which was way too stiff. Since I still had some leftover fabric, I left it on the side. When I finally needed to use it, it was impossible. It was so cardboard-like it wouldn’t even bend to go inside my hoop. And I did push hard.
This was not the only problem however. Since it was already stiff and packed for a long time, the folds looked like nothing would straighten them out. I’d be limited to designs that would fit within those squares.
The stiffness of the fabric is usually due to the starch used by fabric makers. Too much starch could be a sign of cheap, bad quality fabric. If I washed my fabric with hot water, I might remove all the starch and have a useless piece of fabric. Since I wasn’t sure what to do next, I scoured online and found a few options.
Should I pre-wash it?
As mentioned earlier, using hot water can end up removing all the starch from your fabric. The top recommendation was to just stitch on it. It may be annoying at first and hard to manoeuvre, but with time the stiffness should decrease enough to work through it.
If it’s really bad, you can wet it with some cold water (not too much) and iron it while it’s slightly damp. You don’t want the fabric to become way too soft, just enough to manipulate it.
Roll it to soften the creases
If the creases are too noticeable because of the way you stored it (folding it multiple times in my case), you may need to move the fabric around. Rolling it up will help break up the starch and reduce the creases.
After it starts softening and reshaping, you can try ironing it again and work with it. This should be enough to make the fabric workable. You can put a piece of damp material between the iron and the fabric.
Nothing is working, it’s still stiff
If nothing worked to relax the fabric, then it’s probably a bad piece. If it’s super stiff, you can consider breaking it down into small pieces that are easier to control. Choose small projects like bookmarks or cards where the stiffness might actually be handy. It won’t be a good option for larger projects that require constant use and flexibility like quilts or pillows.
Ever worked with stiff fabric? How did you get rid of the stiffness?