Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spray Starch My Way

I’m a great believer in doing what works for you. One of the things that works for me is starch. I use it when piecing and preparing applique pieces. I also lightly starch my finished quilt top and back just before pin basting for machine quilting.

Starch makes fabric crisp and it minimizes fraying. It also stabilize homespuns which tend to distort. When piecing the seams butt up perfectly. When sandwiching a quilt everything lays perfectly flat and smooth making pinning and machine quilting a breeze. I’ve been asked if I worry about insects being attracted to starch since it is plant-based and my answer is “no”. As a rule my quilts are used so they do get washed. I’ve been using starch for years and I’ve had quilt tops stored away waiting to be quilted and insects have not been a problem at all even after several years.

This quilt was made with  Susan Garman's pattern “Ancient Stars”. The half square triangles are 1” finished and I had absolutely no problem making these tiny piced borders.

I always have a can of commercially prepared spray starch on hand for quick jobs but it is not environmentally friendly and it is expensive so I usually make a large bottle of homemade starch for only a few pennies. There are lots of recipes out there. I’ve experimented with many of them and have developed a hybrid and it is the one which I like the best.


1 tablespoon of corn starch (the kind you cook with)
2 cups of water
1 ounce vodka
2-3 drops good quality essential oil (optional)


Combine the corn starch and water in a pot and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for three to five minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Add the vodka. If you like scented spray starch add 2 or 3 drops of good quality essential oil (I like lavender). Pour the starch into a good quality spray bottle that produces a fine mist. I find that spray pump bottles that contained high end body products or hair sprays work well….just make sure that they are well cleaned so that any product residue is removed.

The vodka does serve a purpose. My experience is spray starch with vodka dries much more quickly that without. I’ve tried other types of alcohol including isopropyl and none work as well as vodka which is made of grain, not potato.
Always give the starch a shake before use as there may be some settling. When not in use the starch should be stored in the fridge; it keeps well for several days. When using starch press, don’t iron. Ironing (sliding the iron over the fabric) will create distortions.
Make one block using spray starch and see if you don’t agree that it makes a difference! And do post a comment to let me know what you think. I'll prepare an instuction sheet and post it in Tips and Tutorials as a handy reference.
Until I post again, happy sewing!






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