- Sarah Marcina
To Starch or Not to Starch
The January 13th post covered pre-washing fabrics. Another debated topic among quilters is to starch or not to starch as well as the best kind to use. Just with the prewashing topic, the bottom line is there isn't a right or wrong answer. It's preference and every quilter has their reasoning why or why not to do either.
I have starched for as long as I can remember. It was just something I did. This past week on a project I decided to experiment with not starching my prewashed fabric. The fabric had such a stretch, my blocks ended up slightly distorted. Granted, it was easier to stretch to nest perfectly the seams, but then again I do this with my starched fabric too. The experiment project was putting blocks together for a full sized quilt. I ended up with wave. I can't remember a quilt, big or small being wavy. I rechecked my blocks to make sure they were the right size. They were. The blocks fit together good, but I had this crazy wave. The only thing I could figure out to be the culprit was not using starch. I starched and was able to get most of it flattened out, but one side isn't great. I don't think it will be a problem for my longer armer, but time will tell. I wish I could share a picture, I didn't take one because I was so frustrated. From now on, I will continue to be a starchy quilter.
I have used many different brands, but now just make my own. Here's a quick review. I hadn't hear of Best Press until a couple years ago, so I always used cheap spray starch from big box stores. Through a quilting Facebook page I was introduced to it. Even though it is much more expensive, it was worth the money. I wasn't getting any flaking whatsoever. Sometimes I did with cheaper starches. There was just one problem with Best Press, it was causing me to sneeze and get the sniffles when I used it. As with the prewash post, you know I'm pretty sensitive to chemicals.
One day I ran out of Best Press, but had heard other people talking about their homemade starches. I went out on a google search and found the most popular was one with alcohol. I don't use or purchase it, so that formula was immediately out. It came to mind corn STARCH.... hmmm. I set out on a google mission to find out if that is an option. Sure enough it was. Everyone had a different way of making theirs, so I set out to experiment. (Have you noticed I do a lot of experimenting? I think most quilters are initiative people.) It took awhile for me to get it right. Since that time, I have only made my own. It's been over a year and I haven't ran out of it. No more interrupted sewing to run to the store. A little hot water, corn starch and spritzing bottle is all I need. You can find my "recipe" here.
In conclusion, starching fabric is the way to go. For me it gives me fabrics a little bit of stabilizing. I really don't have problems with cutting my fabric and ending up with wonky sizes. I won't go without it again.
Have a great day!