How to Starch Your Knitting or Crochet Projects

crochet rug

Sometimes you will want to add some stiffness to your finished knitting or crochet project, especially for things like handbags, rugs or wall art.  Here’s a look at some of the starching mediums out there, from “old school” solutions to easier-to-use products you can spray from a bottle.

Classic Starching.

The oldest form of starching is simply to dissolve ¼ cup starch in ½ cup of cold water.  Slowly bring this mixture to a boil over a low flame. As the mixture begins to thicken, gradually add 1 ¼ cups of cold water. Boil the mixture while stirring constantly until the mixture becomes clear. This will leave you with a think pasty type substance.

As soon as your starch mixture is cool enough to safely be handled, dip in your knitting work and squeeze the starch into it thoroughly. Your goal is to soak your project with the starch but not to have it in the holes or any openwork in your project. At this point, you will want to allow your project to dry in the position you want it to be in when the starching process is completed.

Once your item is completely dry, you can iron it with a steam iron on a medium setting.

Spray Starch.

An easier way to stiffen your knitting items is to use spray starch. Spray starch is easy to find in the laundry detergent area of any of your local grocery or drug stores. To use spray starch, you will want to use one of two methods.

  1. Lightly spray your piece and then press it using a warm iron, on the wrong side, covered with another material in-between your item and your iron.
  2. Lightly spray your piece and then pin it in place and allow it to dry. If you choose to pin your pieces, make sure you use rust proof pins so you do not get any staining on your finished work.

Spray starch is perfect for household items and holds up under normal wear. However, it is not permanent and if you wash your item, then you will need to starch it again.

Liquid Starch.

Using liquid starch allows you to control the stiffness of your knitting piece very easily. You can use the starch straight from the bottle or dilute it with water so it’s not quite as stiff. The process is identical to the directions above for classic starching.

Stiff Stuff.

For lack of a better phrase, “stiff stuff” is created specifically for craft items and handiwork. Use it like you would a spray starch.  The difference is that your item will be very stiff. You can speed things up by using a blow dryer.

White Glue and Water.

If you are looking for a permanent starching option, you can accomplish it by using white glue and water. Simply mix together equal parts of white glue and water. Dip your item into this mixture and squeeze out the excess. Lay your item on a hard non-stick surface to dry and you will have a permanently starched end product.


Shellac is used in the case where you want a very firm finished product. Simply shape your piece and using a small brush add a thin layer of shellac. Let this layer dry, and then apply 2-3 more coats on top of it. Once your item is dry, the shellac is permanent and your item will be very hard to the touch.




Deborah lives in rural Arizona, near the New Mexico border. She has a variety of interests, including water rights, writing/reading and web development. Her goal this year is to write consistently on things that she finds interesting.

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