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Fabric Origami–an experiment

Ever since I started my peace crane line of hair accessories, people have asked me if I have plans to make origami cranes out of fabric instead of paper. After all, common wisdom says that fabric is more durable than paper, especially if unexpectedly caught in the rain. This is, generally speaking, true. The problem is, when you try to make a paper crane out of a square of fabric,  you get something that looks like this:

It looks kind of…..flaccid. Fabric just doesn’t do crisp folds the way paper does, even when the creases are ironed. Unless, of course, you can stiffen the fabric so that it has the feel of paper. So I hunted around the internet for options to stiffen fabric. I tried one home-made recipe: equal parts water and white glue, and one “professional” version: gelatin millinery stiffener (the stuff I use when blocking hats). Both made much nicer cranes:

glue and water stiffener
Gelatin hat stiffener

However, neither solved the initial problem. I put the stiffened fabric cranes, along with a paper crane, in the bathtub and ran the shower on them to simulate a rain storm. Because both glue and gelatin are water soluble, the shower caused the stiffener to unstiffen.

glue and water


When the cranes dried, they restiffened and I am sure the careful application of an iron would have them looking great again. But I don’t want you to have to iron your cranes every time they get wet!  The paper crane, on the other hand, held up surprisingly well:

There are some commercially available fabric stiffeners that claim to be water resistant. I’ll try those next.


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