Perfectly Prim

The soon-to-be-released Create & Decorate June issue (on newsstands April 12) is overflowing with creative projects and articles! So much so that we were forced to pull some of our favorite designs and features to use for a later date. Since feature article Perfectly Prim didn’t fit into the magazine, designer Kim Grasso has graciously given us permission to share her June feature column ideas with our blog readers. Thank you, Kim! We are thrilled to have Kim designing her “creepy little dolls” and sharing primitive crafting ideas for Create & Decorate magazine. Below is a teaser photo of her latest doll, Garden Gayle (pattern and instruction are in our upcoming June issue). Please note: If you are unable to find Create & Decorate in a store near you, you may order current copies and back issues from our website. Remember, you’ll save money when you subscribe!

The feature article, Perfectly Prim, originally for our June issue is shared below. Enjoy! Please feel free to leave a comment about what primitive crafting techniques you would like to see in future Perfectly Prim articles. (We have recently shared Kim’s ideas for rusting techniques, prim painting, fabric staining, and special paper Moravian Star ornaments.)

Perfectly Prim

Fabric Stiffeners and Vintage Curtain Tiebacks

By Kim Grasso

So many of our craft projects require fabric stiffeners to finish. Ready-to-use stiffeners may be purchased at any craft or fabric store. To use, simply follow manufacturer’s instructions.

I like to make my own fabric stiffener, and use it when I make very simple, no-sew vintage curtain tiebacks. (They make terrific prim ornies or tie-on’s as well!)

Sugar Water/Salt Water


For product information, see sources on pages 76-77.

Sugar or Epsom salt


Measuring cup, paintbrush (optional), small pot


1. Mix one part sugar or Epsom salt to one part water in a small pot. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly to dissolve. As soon as mixture boils, remove from heat—you do not want sugar to crystallize. When cool enough to touch, brush or dip items in liquid and let dry completely.

Note: This method will give you a hard finish but sugar may attract ants. This method will not hold up in humid weather and may be removed with water.

Glue and Water


For product information, see sources on page 77.

White school glue


Measuring cup, paintbrush (optional)


1. Mix one part water and one part glue together. Brush on or dip items for a permanent finish. Allow to dry completely.

Note: Humidity will not affect finished item. However, since white school glue is water soluble, it may not hold up outside and can be washed out.



For product information, see sources on page 77.

Corn, rice, or potato starch

Cold water

Measuring cup, paintbrush (optional), small pot


1. Mix 1/4 cup of corn, rice, or potato starch with 1-1/2 cups of cold water in small pot until smooth. Cook on medium heat until thickened and clear. Take off heat and allow to cool for easy handling. Dip or brush on items to be stiffened.

Vintage Curtain Tiebacks


For product information, see sources on page 77.

Cutter quilt scrap

Vintage buttons, rusty pins, or bells (or any embellishment of choice)

1/2” cabone rings, two

Bias tape, fabric, jute, ribbon, rickrack or scrap of homespun, teacup hooks (for attaching tieback)


1. Cut out shape of choice from vintage quilt scrap. Decorate with embellishments of choice.

2. Sew a cabone ring to back of quilt cutout; this will be used to hang tieback. Brush or dip with choice of fabric stiffener and allow to dry completely.

3. Hang teacup hooks. Experiment by pulling curtains back with a tape measure or string to see where you want the placement and length of tieback.

4. If you are using ribbon, just tie a knot or bow and place over hook. Add cutout by placing attached cabone ring over hook. You may just use a safety pin to hold rickrack, seam binding, ribbon, or homespun in place and cutout will cover it all.


  • Liquid starch, spray starch, and hairspray may all be used by brushing or spraying on for a lighter, non-permanent hold.
  • Use a food dehydrator to dry small items such as ornies, bowl fillers, and pins.
  • Use a microwave oven to dry; use a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 15 seconds at a time. Note: This cannot be used if you have any metal in your projects.
  • Use an oven on the lowest temp and check every five minutes. If project has bells, pins, or wire, be very careful, as the metal will get hot and burn fabric.
  • If you have a warm, sunny day, just place items on a cookie sheet and let dry in the sun.

Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and allow to dry overnight. Wool felt takes a little longer and may take up the three days to dry completely, especially in humid weather.

  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla for subtle aging. I use this to age quilt cutouts because the quilt pattern and stitches are too beautiful to hide.
  • While still wet, sprinkle with glitter glass to add sparkle to holiday ornies.
  • Add a tablespoon of cinnamon to fabric stiffener and stir to dissolve. Brush on for a dark, hard finish. This is great for gingerbread men.
  • Wool felt can sometimes run. Wash first and rinse until water runs clear. Allow to air-dry before stiffening.
  • Seal completed items with clear, flat, interior/exterior spray enamel to protect.

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