You now need stiffened felt for the next stage of your quiet book. Therefore here you will stiffen felt fabric using a homemade fabric stiffener. Felt material comes in a wide array of packs and sizes. However don’t be swayed by those bundles of cute little felt fabric squares that you find on Ebay etc. this is because they will not give you much value for your money as far as making a felt busy book goes.

Instead what you need is larger wool felt sheets, preferably off the felt roll and by the yard. If you cannot afford to purchase felt by the yard, go for the largest size of wool felt sheets you can afford. These could be A4 felt sheets or larger felt squares. Either way, as long as the piece of wool felt fabric is a good 3 inches bigger than your desired size of felt material all around, you are good to go.

Materials needed to make stiffened felt

You will only need a few simple ingredients to make stiff felt. And if you have kids, chances are you will already have everything at home to make stiffened felt easily.

A large bowl or tub or your kitchen sink

a large bowl
You will need a bowl to make stiffened felt at home

You need to dip soft felt fabric into the fabric stiffener in order to make stiffened felt. For this, you can use any large bowl or a small tub or even your clean kitchen sink.

Warm water

lukewarm water in a large bowl
You will need lukewarm water to make stiffened felt

You will need to fill your bowl with some lukewarm water. Water straight from the tap is perfectly fine for this.

PVA glue ─ the best fabric stiffener for wool felt fabric

stiffened felt
You will need PVA glue to make stiffened felt

You might have looked into various fabric stiffeners on the market, from starch powder to spray-on stiffeners to liquid starch solutions. But actually all you need to make stiffened felt is the humble PVA glue or white craft glue. And if you have kids or if you like crafting, chances are that you already have PVA glue at home.

Even if you don’t have it, you can easily find PVA craft glue in most supermarkets, craft stores, DIY stores and online. It is cheap, nontoxic and safe to work with. You can also save money on white craft glue by buying bulk packs of it from DIY stores. The best part is that PVA glue gives a flawless finish to stiffened felt every time.

An egg whisk

Stiffened felt
You will need a whisk to make your felt fabric stiffener

A simple egg whisk from your kitchen drawer will do the job perfectly well of making the felt fabric stiffener at home.

Household gloves (optional)

You can choose to wear household gloves while making stiffened felt, especially if you are stiffening large quantities of wool felt fabric. But this is optional and you can do without this as well.

An old towel or rug to catch drips

You will be hanging your wool felt sheets to dry. This will create lots of drips on your floor, so be sure to catch them with an old towel or a rug. You can always put the latter through a hot wash to get rid of any PVA glue.

A clothes horse or laundry hanging pegs

Of course you will need a laundry hanger or clothes pegs to hand up your wet wool felt sheets.

How to stiffen felt ─ an easy way to make stiffened felt for your quiet book

Now that you have all the materials you need, let’s go ahead and make some stiffened felt!

Prepare the felt fabric stiffener

Stiffened felt
Your fabric stiffener should be milky white

In the bowl, pour around 3 to 4 tablespoons of PVA glue and add to it a small amount of lukewarm water. Mix well to make a slightly runny mixture. Add more water to this until there is enough mixture to completely submerge your pieces of felt fabric. It should be a milky white colour and should have the consistency of milk.

Saturate wool felt sheets in fabric stiffener

Now dunk the piece of felt material in this PVA glue mixture and twirl and squeeze it around in the bowl. Let the felt absorb the liquid well.

Remove excess moisture from the felt fabric

stiffened felt
Squeeze out the moisture gently from your felt fabric

Once the felt fabric is completely soaked, gently squeeze out the extra glue mixture and put the wet felt to one side. Now move on to the next piece of felt fabric. Continue until you have treated all your wool felt sheets.

If you are making a large quantity of stiffened felt, you will notice that the glue mixture is running quite thin by the time you come to your last few pieces of felt. Don’t worry: simply add more water and glue and mix everything well. Continue to dunk, twirl, saturate and squeeze-dry the remaining wool felt sheets.

Hang wool felt sheets to dry

stiffened felt
Hang up your felt fabric to dry

Once you have dunked all your wool felt fabric in the glue mixture, peg or hang it up to drip dry. And place a rug or a towel under it to absorb the drips; there will be quite a few!

As the wool felt sheets dry, they will get stiffer and stiffer. By the time all the water has evaporated, your felt fabric will be beautifully stiff.

Working with stiffened felt

stiffened felt for quiet book
Stiffened felt is uneven and bumby

Once your felt sheets are dry and stiff, you must process them some more before you can work with them. The stiffened felt will be shrunken, wrinkled and impossible to use in this condition. Therefore you must press and trim it before you can use it in your felt crafts.

Pressing out stiffened felt

stiffened felt for quiet books
Iron it out

Now take your stiffened felt sheet and use a steam iron to press it out nice and flat. Make sure that your iron has plenty of steam and that it is on the wool setting.  Polyester felt in particular can burn easily so make sure that your steam iron is at an appropriate temperature. You will have to press down on your iron hard for this and use plenty of steam. Keep ironing until you smooth out all the wrinkles and creases. Now you will be left with a lovely flat and stiff piece of wool felt fabric.

Trimming stiffened felt sheets

You will notice that the felt fabric has shrunk to a slightly smaller size than when you started. Also, the edges of the stiffened felt are misshapen and refuse to lie flat, no matter how well you try to press them out with a hot iron. Therefore, you will need to trim away these edges to reveal your nice flat stiffened felt sheet. Simply take a pair of sharp scissors and trim away the stiffened felt edges to leave the nice, smooth, flat felt fabric in the middle.

Now you can use this stiffened, pressed and trimmed felt sheet for all kinds of children’s felt crafts

Top three tips to working with stiffened felt

One of the biggest advantages of stiffened felt sheets is that they retain their shape well. However this quality can also become a problem if you are not careful. To work with stiffened felt, remember these three things:

Do not over-stiffen the felt fabric

Do not over-stiffen the felt fabric with too much PVA glue. Add just enough white craft glue to your mixture to allow the felt to hold its shape. Adding too much glue will result in a felt fabric that is too hard to iron out or cut or sew.

Use sharp tools to cut your stiffened felt.

If your cutting tools are blunt, they will fray the cut line and result in an untidy finish. Therefore keep a separate, very sharp pair of scissors to cut your stiffened felt.

Use an appropriate thickness of needle to sew stiffened felt.

Needle holes can look prominent on stiffened felt because the hardened fibres cannot settle back once pierced. So when sewing stiffened felt, use a needle that is just thick enough to do the job and not any thicker. Ideally the sewing holes should not be obvious in your finished quiet book at all.

And there you have it: your complete guide on how to make stiffened felt at home using a homemade fabric stiffener. You can watch a video of how to stiffen felt at this link.

If you are still unsure of what things you need for your quiet book, you can read all about quiet book materials here.

Click here for your next step in the quiet book journey.

Click here to view the previous step in how to make a quiet book.

You can get a quick visual overview of how to make a quiet book here.

You can also read all about how to make a quiet book here and follow the links within.

Happy crafting!