I use starch for a couple of things, always when I hand dye fabrics now. My dear mother-in-law is the one who gave me the idea, she was showing me some of her older blouses that she keeps looking new by using a "dip" of regular, old fashioned starch. It really gives a better finish then spray starch and so much cheaper! But some people might have trouble finding it. In the South it is readily available & at stores where they may serve a Chicano population you might find it in the West. I have no idea about other parts of the country.
These are the directions I sent to someone a while back:
Starch Directions From Faultless box:
Make solution Cream ½ cup Faultless [powdered starch] in 1 ½ cup cool water.
Stir into 2 quarts of rapidly boiling water.
Reset the [washing] machine to deep rinse. Add starch solution. Agitate for at least 3 minutes.
Turn to final spin cycle.
Faultless box has directions for machine as well as hand starching using either cold or hot starch. Faultless starch is a division of Bon Ami Company Kansas City, Missouri 64101-1207.
The Argo box has only hand starching directions, it is made by BEST Food, CPC International Inc. General Office Englewood Cliff, NJ 07632
I find that these starches add a nice finish to hand dyed fabrics and after I prewash batiks, etc. I put my starched fabrics into drier & try to get them out while still just damp, roll and press later. But sometimes I dry a little to much and have to sprinkle/spray before ironing! If I had a quilt top that I had stored for months, years, I would do a light dip and press to add a bit of body, I think it would pin easier & machine quilt easier. I do not hand piece so I do not know how this would work. Hope this helps someone, it really has helped me. Sincerely, Marcia
From: Barbara Price in Ottawa, Canada
Susan, I use starch when doing applique. but only on the background. I find that I am able to keep my work flatter, without wrinkles. Just enough starch remains, so that the piece is easier to square up when I am ready to piece my blocks with sashing. I usually use spray starch, as it is easier than mixing a batch of liquid starch. Hope this helps, Barbara in Ottawa, Canada.
From: BonniReece in Clayton, CA
I have started using starch on all fabrics before I use them for the following reasons:
1. It keeps bias edges from stretching (as in Lone Star diamonds).
2. The pencil marks wash out better because they are on the starch, not on the fabric.
3. Zig-zag-edged applique pieces don't bunch, fray or shift when they are being sewed down.
4. Backings don't get puckers in them as readily.
5. The quilt sandwich slides on the machine bed easier when the backing is heavily starched. I use canned spray starch. However, I am interested in how liquid starch can be utilized. Can it be diluted 1:1 and sprayed from a bottle? Putting it into the rinse water seems wasteful.
PS. from Bonnie:
As I was working on some LeMoyne stars today, I thought of another reason I like starching fabric: Seams can be finger pressed open or to one side. There is less distortion of the piece with finger pressing. I answered my own question about putting the starch in a spray bottle. It works fine. At full strength, the spray was spotty. Diluted 1:1 with water, the spray was more even. One application of the liquid starch equals 3-4 applications of canned spray starch. Voila!! ... Bonnie Reece Niagara Starch can - small (1411 bytes)
From: Bobbi S
I love spray starch! I use whatever is the cheapest at the store, heavy duty/"professional finish", right now Niagara is in use.....it's fine. I (almost) always wash my fabrics before I put them up for use. since I use a lot of bargain table surprises, some of them have icky finishes or sizing on them, that I usually like to remove.I love the way spray starch smooths out wrinkles. I love to work with nice flat fabric with just a little bit of crispness. lately most of my work is built onto a whole cloth, with "scraps" and bits seriously stitched onto that base. when I finish, I starch and iron the back.... sometimes the front unless I have questionable materials or transferred images on. this makes a nice "canvas" to build on.....so smooth and flat! I LOVE the way they feel after starching......I was just thinking about this last week and wondering if anyone else loved spray starch as much as I? fun that you would ask!! I can't wait to hear other answers. Bobbi
From: Nancy J Morgen
Susan, I have just recently begun starching, and I find I have less trouble with stretching bias edges, and the fabrics don't slide against each other so easily, so you can keep them in position more easily. I get more precise matching that way. Nancy Morgen
From: Beverly Snow
I spray starch all my fabric after washing it. Then, I starch it again when piecing. The starch keeps the layers from shifting when I stitch. Great advice from a workshop with Deb Wagner. I always use spray sizing on anything I iron, so my initial ironing of fabric out of the dryer is with that. when I get ready to use the fabric for piecing, I use spray starch. It leaves the fabric stiffer and more stable. By the time the piece is finished, most of the starch had worked its way off the fabric, so the hand is back to normal. Bev Snow
From: Mary Beth Goodman I starch everything re my fabric. I use liquid starch and a Downy fabric softener ball in the washing machine when I'm doing loads of fabric and/or my cotton shirts. I use the same line as for the fabric softener and the starch gets automatically released for the final rinse. Cool. I use the same liquid starch diluted in a spray bottle near my ironing board for ironing and pressing things. I guess I use it fast enough not to have a problem with mildew etc in the bottle. When I'm doing applique work, I pour a little of the starch into a cup and use my finger to put it onto the seam allowance for pressing. Nothing like full strength starch to make a firm edge that won't go anywhere! I agree that normal amounts of starch disappear during the sewing/handling of the fabric. I prefer the liquid starch because it allows me to mix my own strength starch and do whole washers full at once, and because I stay away from aerosol bottles for environmental reasons. I have a couple of large pieces of white cotton sheeting that I rotate on my ironing board. When one gets brown with starch, it goes into the wash and the next one rotates on. That's all for me - now you know more than you wanted to about my starching habits! Mary Beth
And a PS. from Mary Beth: I prefer the liquid starch because it allows me to mix my own strength starch and do whole washers full at once. [Would you tell us what ratio of water to starch you use?] Well, I had to go and measure what the fabric softener dispenser holds, and it was 3 TBs. That would be what I normally put into the washer. I was going to tell you that I put about a half inch of starch into my pint spray bottle and then fill with water. When I looked at the bottle though, it is a 16 oz bottle, and a half inch is marked at 2 oz. does that help? Mary Beth
[ Will sizing leave a residue that may discolor with time or scorch with too much pressing?? Inquiring minds want to know! ] The sizing will wash out the first time the quilt is washed. If the sizing scorches, the fabric will also scorch--it is meant for fairly high temperatures. I have starched the background foundation fabric for embroidered blocks, it helps prevent some of the ripples and you may not need to use stabilizer. I have also used it for heirloom sewing on very thin fabrics. --marina
From: Sally B. Anderson
Susan -- I buy the spray-on sizing at the grocery store. It's on the shelf next to the starch -- doesn't make the fabric as stiff as starch does, and, as Judy said, less gunk on the iron. But it does give the fabric/block some body which helps me trim more accurately. Sally
From: Anita M. Smith
About the subject of Starching or Sizing of an applique project: Niagara Can
Small (1678 bytes)
In my quilt "Beyond my comfort zone" I decided to not pre-wash the fabric in order to not lose the body of the fabric I wanted to use. I know that I will have a problem later in washing it someday ( I will deal with that when it happens) but I felt I wanted the fabric to stay the way I got it. Some fabrics lose their "life" when washed and I didn't want to risk that with this project. After working the fabric a lot the body did seem to not be as nice especially on the background. I had to manipulate it a lot for all the handwork I put into it. It looked pretty bad. Even quilting sometimes doesn't help a project in that condition. So what I did was spray a pressing cloth VERY LIGHTLY with Sizing and put that cloth onto the BACK of the main quilt area. With no steam in the iron I pressed that cloth and my project. Because the front had lots of dimensional work I had to be extra careful not to disturb that area. With all that extra care the quilt was "restored" to its original body and quilted up very nicely. Resizing a project has been successful for me and so Starching has not been of interest for me. I ALWAYS press FIRST on the back of an applique project then if needed a light pressing on the front. It keeps the applique smooth and you don't permanently press in a crease where you don't want it.
The Story of "Beyond my comfort zone" is on The Applique Society web site under "TAS origins".
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