Updated 4/18 with new info and updated supply links!
You know that I am a big fan of making handmade flowers with crinoline. I love how wonderfully it die cuts and takes ink for dyeing. Check out my gallery of tutorials to learn how to make several styles of flowers and see projects using the flowers.
Many readers have asked for help finding crinoline. There is some confusion about what crinoline is and if there are good fabric substitutions. I have created this article to help with those questions.
Crinoline is a woven cotton fabric. It is usually bleached white and starched to make it stiff. Crinoline is commonly used in millinery and costuming. Because it is cotton (a natural fiber) it absorbs dyes nicely. With the added stiffness, it die cuts wonderfully with both thin (aka CED or wafer dies) and thick dies (steel rule).
Many people confuse tulle (aka net, bridal veil) with crinoline. Many people use tulle to make underskirts for dresses or costumes and often call them “crinolines”. That is a big part of the confusion for people searching for crinoline fabric. Store clerks often confuse and misdirect customers to the tulle section. You can make flowers with tulle. You can die cut it with steel rule dies and some thin dies. The big difference is that tulle is NOT a natural fiber, it is a synthetic (think plastic). Simple dyeing techniques like I show in my tutorials will not work on synthetic materials.
Crinoline and buckram…
When shopping for crinoline, you will probably find two similar fabrics, crinoline and buckram. I have added photos here to try to show the difference between the two. Crinoline and buckram are both are cotton and usually offered in white. Both have a square weave that you can see through. The weave of crinoline and the thickness of the threads making up the weave are usually thinner and tighter than the weight and weave of the buckram threads.
Both fabrics are very stiff. Buckram is usually firmer the firmer of the two. The amount of starch on the fabric is what creates the stiffness. Because there is more starch on the buckram, it will take dye a little less readily than the crinoline. Dye on buckram tends to turn out a bit more spotty which can create really lovely color variations. When dyed as shown in my tutorials, both retain the starched effect when dried.
Look for crinoline and buckram in the “utility fabric” section at your local fabric store. I have also included online shopping links below.
Woven sew-in interfacing…
Another great option for flower making is to use woven sew-in interfacing. Woven sew-in interfacing is white cotton fabric. It is usually available in white or black. In fabric stores, you will find it on bolts with the other interfacing. Woven sew-in interfacing is a cotton fabric with a slight stiffness. Unlike other interfacing, it does not have adhesive on it. Like crinoline and buckram, it has starch on it and as a utility fabric it is usually fairly inexpensive.
Because of the light starch, it die cuts well with both thin and steel rule dies. Also, it takes dyes wonderfully. When dyed as shown in my tutorials, it retains the starched effect when dried.
Mixed Media Sheets…
Therm O Web’s Mixed Media Sheets are also a great choice. Mixed Media sheets are a formed sheet that combines fabric and paper fibers into a sheet. The sheets are a frosty transparent like vellum with visible fibers, almost like mulberry paper. It comes in two different weights. They take die and paint wonderfully and make stunning flowers. Although they aren’t fabric, and not really a substitution for crinoline, I had to mention them because it is such a great product for flowers.
I hope that helps everyone with questions! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment here or email me through my contact page.