Starching by Connie, 1-19-23

Do you starch your fabric before cutting? I buy this bottle of starch at Walmart.

Mix with a bit of water – I don’t measure. Soak fabric.

Hang up to dry. I like to do this outside – and hang over my railing but the bath tub works good in the winter.

This stack is dry and waiting to be ironed and used in the following quilt.

The quilt is called Wensleydale and looks kind of disjointed (and ugly). I’ve used every goofy print that I thought might work. But I’m hoping it will get better and will continue on because I love using these foundation papers by Jen Kingwell.

I like starching my fabric because it cuts perfectly, irons like a dream and there is no slipping when stitching.

Disadvantages – there is a bit of shrinking of the fabric and spontaneous cutting and sewing are always 6 hours in the future!

Do you starch?

59 thoughts on “Starching by Connie, 1-19-23

  1. Jane Winton

    I do but I use Faultless spray can and then press dry. It’s a little faster. I’ve done the bucket with the liquid. Have you seen the counter wringer on Amazon? It would lessen the drying time and pressing would be easier. It’s about $150 so
    I’m still looking. 😂

  2. Jill Klop

    I do not starch…although I do have a bottle of Maryellen’s Best Press! I know it’s not the same thing! I’m going to look up the quilt that you are doing. Can’t wait to see how your fabrics work!

  3. Sherrill

    I have used spray starch on occasion in the past but haven’t lately. I always think when I see a post about starch like yours that I should do that but then I don’t (just forgetful I guess). I really don’t have anywhere to hang it (no line outside or handy dandy thingy that sits in the tub) so that might be part of it. Oh well…..

  4. Patty McDonald

    I use Sta-flo when I’m doing turn applique. Never do I starch my fabric before sewing but I’m not surprise that you do. Mary, you are a very hard worker at everything!! Forty years ago an old farmer use to tell me MS McDonald you’re the hardest working woman I know. In the last 5 years , I’ve slowed down in many areas. Mary, you are the hardest working person I know.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Patty McDonald – did you read who wrote this post about starching? Connie – not Mary. It says Starching by Connie. Mary doesn’t starch. I’m a hard worker but not in this case.

      1. Patty McDonald

        You’re so right! It was Connie but you’re still the hardest working person I know!

  5. Gloria from CC

    I iron using spray starch (heavily) on all my material before cutting out. Makes for a more precise cut and sews together easier. This works great on recycled shirts which can tend to be limp.

  6. Mary H

    I do sometimes. I do think it makes piecing more accurate. But, I don’t always plan ahead! I never thought of dunking in bucket of liquid starch. I like that.

  7. SUSIE

    I have had a rack to dry the fabric for 8 months……. will know what to look for at the grocery and then I can starch!!!

  8. Bonnie McKee

    Hi Connie,
    I have only starched using spray starch, but your bucket and line drying method look do-able!
    Wensleydale looks like it would be fun to hand quilt!
    Thanks for the inspiration 😊
    Bonnie, in Oregon

  9. Char

    Every piece of fabric that comes into my house is washed and dried before use. My fabric is already pre-shrunk and ready to use. I will starch as i use it, if working with small fiddly pieces. I always enjoy your blog!

  10. Linda

    No, I don’t starch but now that you have explained how you starch it makes sense. I will try this my next quilt. Thanks for the excellent tip. Much appreciated.

  11. Deborah

    I want to starch because of the benefits but seldom do because large pieces are difficult to do!!!

  12. Terri S.

    I use Faultless spray starch whenever I stitch something small. I let it dry, then iron.It makes a world of a difference with piecing.

  13. Deb E

    I starch by using the heaviest spray starch I can get my hands and then press. I remember the days of having to soak my dad’s fatigues in liquid starch and wait till nearly dry and then pressing the daylights out of the fabric. HATED that job. Being the oldest (my siblings were all boys) and having a mother who also worked outside the home meant I got stuck with lots of housework, cooking, washing, etc….and my brothers did nothing but put frogs in their dresser drawers, collect insects and be general pains in the rear end while I was watching them. Bet you’re sorry you asked now, huh? Nearly put me off having children!

  14. Kathy in western NY

    Nice information, Connie, for those who have been on the fence on its benefits. I do starch using the soak method and hang it up and also use faultless spray on smaller pieces as many are scraps I have stored for years and the starch helps remove the wrinkles as well. Your quilt will be stunning with that stack of colors. When I use foundation papers it takes me back to my days of cutting paper dolls out and trying to design clothes for them out of paper.

  15. Deb C

    I starch and use the same brand but I spray rather than soak my fabric. It makes cutting and piecing so much more accurate! I also recently learned to tear fabric for borders and backing. Fabric tears straight so no more wavy cuts.

  16. Jan Hebert

    I’ve tried a spray starch but was disappointed that it created little spots on the fabric. I love the idea of soaking the fabric but I need more details! Would you estimate how much water to starch you use, Connie? Like a Tablespoon of starch to a gallon of water? Or is it a half cup of starch to a gallon of water? I love the fabrics you’ve gathered but I don’t think I could do a quilt with that much detail! Jan in MA

    1. Amy M.

      Jan, I’ve read some people like to use a 50/50 ratio. It all depends on how stiff you want your fabric-less starch less stiffness. I think everyone’s “likes” are different so you might have to play around and see what formula works best for you.

    2. Connie Tesene

      Hi Jan
      I use about a 1 to 1 ratio. But I don’t measure…. So it can vary. You could play around with different amounts until it suits you. Good luck

  17. Li

    i prewash, dry, and iron all fabric I bring into the house because I find that my cuts and blocks are accurate. I do not like to fuss with blocks when I assemble 70 – 160 blocks into a quilt top. I also think prewashing makes the fabric less slippery. I also cut binding at 2-1/8″ and fold for a double binding. My favorite bindings are Kaffe Fassett shot cotton stripes. Lovely accent. I think my favorite part is sewing down the bindings by hand.

  18. Carol

    Yes, I am a starcher! I prewash and starch every piece of fabric before they ever get into my sewing room. I also use Sta-Flo, dilute it half and half with water. So nice to meet another starcher!

  19. Carol at Pin Oak Quilting

    I do starch, Mary, and I agree with everything you say about cutting, stitching and shrinking plus delayed gratification related to cutting out a new quilt. I use the same product or sometimes, Niagara Spray Starch,

  20. Diane, Squeak, Buddy in Central ohio

    I have starched, but kind of got away from it with spray starch and Best Press. Maybe I should start again. Thanks for the info. I am like Jan Herbert and would like a little more info about quantities. Thanks, Connie.

  21. Kim from TN

    I do use spray starch and I apply it to the back side of the fabric. I spray liberally, let it soak in before I iron. I sometimes do these 2 or 3 times before I cut the fabric. It does make my cutting and stitching more precise.

  22. Viv in Idaho

    I don’t starch and I don’t prewash. I did buy a bottle of starch from Walmart like you use (I think someone recommended using it on appliqué) and maybe I will try it on the next quilt I start.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Viv in Idaho – I don’t either – glad someone out there thinks like me

  23. Carol

    I starch when I am sewing fiddly fabrics for garments. I like using the soaking method is because it doesn’t flake like some spray starches.

  24. Eva

    I absolutely starch all my fabric. It gives it body and I feel I have more control of the fabric under the presser foot of my machine. I use can spray starch. I should have stock in the starch company I use so much of it.

  25. Debby in Wisconsin

    Using Stay Flow mixed with water was one of the “Tips or Tricks” was suggested at my Quilt Guild meeting last week. She uses a spray bottle to apply.
    Debby from Wisconsin

  26. Amy M

    Starching is one of my 2023 resolutions. I’ve read a lot about it and I’ve decided the time and effort is going to be worth it for more accurate cutting and piecing. Another advantage is your fabric doesn’t ravel as you sew, so less “threads” to trim.

    Depending on where you lives, some quilters suggest to only starch when you are ready to use the fabric. Starched fabric stored for a period of time could attract bugs because of the potato used to make the starch. Regardless of your stance on attracting bugs, your pressing is going to get wrinkled and you are going to have to repress anyway. Also if you don’t wash your quilts after the binding is done, you will want to wash to remove the starch.

    Years ago I saw a demo of using liquid starch to “wallpaper” a wall with fabric. You dip the fabric as you have done and apply to the wall(think temporary mod pod get). When you want to change it, just peel off the wall and wipe down the wall to remove the starch. Sounds like a fun thing to try.

    I am no expert but if you google starching quilt fabrics you will find lots of blog posts and you tube videos.

    1. Connie Tesene

      Hi Amy
      I love your comment about using starched fabric as wallpaper!!!! Mary asked when I was going to give it a try. Ha
      I think you would like starching- I know you like your piecing to come out perfect- and it would.
      We are rooting for the KC Chiefs in this house!!!
      Take care, Connie

  27. Kathy Downie

    I starch when doing little piecing. I do love Jen Kingwell’s book and that quilt! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I didn’t start any of them yet!

  28. Jo in Wyoming

    I starch washed fabric. Years ago we had a pierced top that fit into a bottle and we sprinkled the ironing, folded it, put it in a plastic bag and about an hour later the whole garment was “ready” to be ironed. Now, I mix liquid starch and water, poke some holes in a plastic coke top and sprinkle the fabric, put it in a bag and in about an hour the fabric is ready to be ironed. If you don’t get all the pieces done, store them in the fridge or freezer till you have time.
    I’m still using that same ironing board!

  29. Barbara

    Always, but I spray with a garden sprayer that hold about three quarts and pumps up. I mix my starch about 4 to 1. It’s worth the wait!

  30. Trudy Locke

    I do starch my fabrics before cutting. However, I dilute by about a third water . My washing machine has a spin-drain cycle, so I do that and then dry in my dryer. I live in a condo and we aren’t allowed to hang things outside.😢

  31. Joan

    I love working with starched fabrics. I use the stall method too but put in the spin cycle of the washer to get excess off. Dries quickly.

    What is you ratio of starch to water?

  32. Anne

    I almost always starch! I think it really makes a difference!
    I use spray starch and try to starch ahead before winter comes! But there’s always something that sneaks in there😀

  33. mary h

    Connie, I am going to make that quilt too. I bought the book and the templates in Houston. Are the papers like paper piecing? Are you doing this by hand or machine?

    1. Connie tesene

      Hi Mary
      I am piecing by machine. The printed paper measures 11-1/2” x 8”. I love paper piecing so it should go quickly.
      I’m hoping!!!! I would love to see your progress.

  34. Susan K in Texas

    I only starch some of the more difficult fabrics to work with. I use spray starch on some flannels and loosely woven fabrics. Regular quilting cotton is steam pressed.

  35. Sue Hoover

    I’m a heavy-duty starcher!!! I also use Sta-flo from Walmart. I have a large acrylic sheet (about 20″ x 40″) that sits on a pair of sawhorses. I starch several layers of like-colored fabric in my basement and let dry overnight. If I see I need four 2-1/2″ strips of fabric, I’ll cut a generous 10″ — maybe 11″ — to allow for shrinkage. My workspace at retreats is so much neater than others. No threads fraying off my fabric. My piecing is a lot more accurate as well.

  36. JUDY - Michigan

    Interesting idea! Back in the 60’s I had to wash then starch my husband’s fatibues in the bathtub because we didn’t have a washing machine! UGH!

  37. Sandi

    I use MaryEllens Best Press or sometimes spray start h . I also keep a spray bottle handy with just water in it. I have never tried liquid starch. Hugs,

  38. Patty Brenner

    I am fully on board with starching before cutting/sewing. I had a couple of cans of spray starch that my sister gave me and used those up so quickly with my first quilt (I’m fairly new to this craft: 18 months ish) that I looked around for a cheaper alternative. I’m out in the country and my local stores didn’t carry the jugs of Sta Flo, so I bought a 10 pack from Walmart and had it delivered to my home. I think I have that same drying rack 🙂 I like that I can make the starch as concentrated as I want. I also mix some up and put in a spray bottle for small scraps or to re-starch if needed. The smell of the starch when I iron brings back sweet memories of my mom too.

  39. JustGail

    I have a jug of Stay Flo.
    I have a can of spray starch.
    I have a bottle or two of Best Press.
    Do I think to use them when starting a quilt? No.

  40. Connie

    I usually use magic sizing for yardage when making a quilt. I don’t use it when my eczema flares up. The results of using a starch produces a better finished quilt and it is much easier to work with the fabric.

  41. Tanya T. in Houston

    Connie, I LOVE the Wensleydale quilt and have Jen Kidwell’s book and the paper piecing patterns. I have some of her lollies fabrics hoarded, but sort and sort and can’t quite cut yet. So following your process in making that quilt will be fascinating!

    I use Best Press when I do tiny pieces. Guess I’m like Jo in Wyoming and remember that old bottle with the metal cap too well! I was in charge of ironing all my father’s handerchiefs and the kitchen cuptowels, but not proficient enough to do shirts or khaki pants!

  42. Jackie in NY

    I don’t starch. Maybe if I tried it once and noticed a difference I would continue.

  43. San

    Absolutely! My hand grip strength is nil after 35 years of typing for a living. Starched fabric allows me to get a good hold of even small pieces. That being said, I start with torn fabric to ensure straight of grain.

    When doing paper piecing, I starch the finished blocks prior to paper removal and final trimming. Starched paper is easier to remove, especially after sewing very thin pieces down.

    There are occasions when spray starch causes excess dye to bleed, so I keep an eye out for that.

    Faultless brand is much better than the big store brand, but I’ve not been able to find it in several years.

    Thanks for sharing Mary. Please be careful on those snowy roads.

    San / Gypsy Quilter Designs

  44. Jeanine

    I’m with you. I do not starch anything! I don’t like to use spray starch as it seems to get on the floor and then is so sticky. I get along just fine without the starch. Very interesting how many do use starch.

  45. Debbie G inSE WI

    I do not starch, nor do I pre wash! I tried it once. I had pieces of fabric draped everywhere to dry. It’s just not for me. I love the Wensleydale quilt. I am so happy that I have purchased all of the Country Threads books and patterns I have! Still waiting for the pattern called Plow the Fields that I bought on a FB quilt group. Anious to make that one!

  46. Suzanne

    I don’t always starch, but gradually am doing that more. It definitely makes a difference when cutting! I like your method and plan to try it. Thanks for the good lesson.

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