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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart

Working with FOSSHAPE - Guidelines and Instructions

Save time and labor with patented FOSSHAPE, the unique nonwoven fabric, called the “Buckram replacement” and a

whole lot more. Achieve the desired amount of rigidity, stiffness and surface enhancement without the use of water or messy

additives. Just heat activate. Use a fabric/costume steamer to stiffen and shape into amazing, lightweight and breathable

structures. FOSSHAPE activates in the range of 212 –265 degrees F (100-130 C). Try a conventional steam iron for

smoother surfaces. Through heat and varying pressure applied to FOSSHAPE, you will create different densities, overall

rigidity and surface smoothness. Great for conventional millinery projects, but that’s just the beginning. Let your creativity


Standard FOSSHAPE, which is white in color, can be easily sewn and or formed into a wide variety of lightweight and breathable structures. FOSSHAPE is available by the roll or by the yard at 45” wide and in two different grades.

For larger structural applications:

1. Cut

FOSSHAPE is easily cut with scissors and will not fray like conventional woven fabrics. For some projects, you may want to gently preshrink the FOSSHAPE before cutting out your specific part. Depending on the amount of heat and pressure applied, FOSSHAPE will shrink over 20%. Be sure to use FOSSHAPE’S shrink factor to your advantage.

2. Sew

Although project specific, you may want to sew FOSSHAPE to itself or other fabrics.

FOSSHAPE can be used as a hidden stiffener or support for costuming or most anywhere lightweight forming maybe required. Lightweight and breathable structures can be achieved with FOSSHAPE as the outer shell surface of three-dimensional figures.

3. Steam, Form and Shape

For a lightweight prop, mascot or character head, drape and fasten FOSSHAPE over a wire mesh frame or armature. With a gentle, waving action apply heat with your steamer over the FOSSHAPE surface, allowing it to shrink around your desired form or framework. Steamers are usually preferred, but an industrial hot air gun may be utilized as well. For areas that require increased density or stiffness, you may want to utilize a conventional steam iron, which will provide more surface smoothness and density.

Use caution and do not apply too much heat quickly to one specific area at a time. Keep your steam or other heat source 6”-12” away from the FOSSHAPE surface to start, then bring it in closer with a slow waving motion to better control the shrinkage factor.

After the steaming and forming phase is complete, you may want to remove the structural frame beneath depending on your requirements. The end result we be a an extremely lightweight and breathable crafted structure.

As with any heat source, use and proceed with caution. Do not attempt to activate FOSSHAPE directly on any parts of the human body.

Making Lightweight 3-D Figures

Should your project require a 3-D figure you may want to try this little trick. Assume you were making a complete human arm with hand and fingers. Trace your arm and fingers out on your FOSSHAPE and cut out two layers. Sew the two layers together around the edges leaving the arm end open like a sock. You may want to pull the sock like structure inside out to hide the stitching inside. Using polyester fiberfill or similar batting/stuffing material, stuff the structure with the fiber tightly into the fingers first then up into the full arm. Now steam or gently sear the outside allowing the FOSSHAPE to shrink up against the stuffing. The fiber or stuffing can then be removed, resulting in a lightweight and breathable structure.

Making Headpieces or Skullcaps

Cut about a 2-foot square of FOSSHAPE and drape it over a suitable head block. By hand, stretch the material over the head block and pin or fasten to the bottom appropriately. Using your hot air gun or steamer, with a fluid motion, allow the FOSSHAPE to shrink up against the form. These steps can be repeated for subsequent layers as well to achieve your required rigidity and density. In layering, you will find that a steam iron with hand pressure will help achieve an adequate bond between layers. Remove the skullcap from the block and trim as necessary.

4. Decorate and Finish……….

FOSSHAPE can be decorated with a wide variety of artisan paints and coatings or can even be dyed. FOSSHAPE, which is all synthetic, will hold up well even in humid or rainy conditions

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