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Quilt Show and Tell

Show and Tell: Me, Myself, and Lisa

I belong to a guild, the New York City Metro Mod Quilters. The Mods meet on Saturdays and I especially look forward to seeing Show and Tell. When I spy an overstuffed tote bag being walked into the meeting I am beyond eager to see what it holds. If miss a meeting it’s because I’m on the road teaching. If for a Guild my reward is their Show and Tell. Afterwards I catch the blog version of the Mods’ Show and Tell. It’s not unusual to see a Show and Tell quilt appear on Instagram within a minute of it being shown in person. If only Instagram would offer us a physical space to meet in we’d be golden.

A Jewel Quilt Block

A Jewel Block

A holiday fabric swap was held last week.

I chose a bundle that included bright red fabric. The colors were intense and super-saturated. I’ve got a thing going on, construction-wise, with Jewel blocks. I was anxious to include some red into Jewels that evening.

The fabric was soft and three edges were slightly frayed; it might have been laundered. I tore off a 6″ wide piece. I gave it a once over with my iron because warm fabric readily absorbs starch. I misted it with water and an initial coat of spray starch. When I touched the fabric with the iron it didn’t seize up so I suspect it had been washed.

A Hot Red Mess

A Hot Red Mess

Sheesh. It immediately bled smack dab onto my ironing surface, a worn out bedsheet. I tell you, starch reveals all. Even when I’ve pre-laundered fabric, which is always, starch ultimately is my test for colorfastness.

I’m glad this happened before I sewed with it because the block background fabric is white. I salvaged the red fabric. I used it as a dishrag until the bleeding stopped.

Have you ever noticed the degree to which fabric shrinks?

I prefer to work with starched fabric. I like the way it cuts and I like sewing its taut surface. The few times I’ve sewn pieces of ‘virgin’ fabric I was disappointed by the outcome. There’s no going back for me. 

A Bag of Fabric, Damp with Liquid Starch, Upon a Stack of Previously Starched Fabric Squares

A Bag of Fabric, Damp with Liquid Starch, Upon a Stack of Previously Starched Fabric Squares

I actually starch 10″ square fabric precuts. No matter the manufacturer, each square can shrink by at least 5 percent at my hands. I know from measuring and it’s downright shocking. Even a damp 5″ charm square becomes misshapen at the touch of a hot iron. I’d rather fabric shrink, and become distorted, before I piece it. A benefit is that my blocks won’t shrink any further when I press them during construction. With attention to seam allowance they finish at the ‘right’ size. But as for starching fabric, let’s not go there today.

I wash and dry all my quilts in front-loading machines. I take care to grab them from the washer as soon as the spin cycle ends. Otherwise, color could migrate from a dark fabric to a light area upon contact. Been there, done that. Let’s not go there today.

Stripe Backing; Ivory Border

Stripe Backing; Ivory Border

Once upon a time I washed a cotton bedspread from India.

I purchased it here in New York. Think hippie bedspread. I saw it as a wide backing, just right for a summer weight quilt. Yet, when I washed the quilt, the backing bled to the front of the quilt in a peculiar way. Excess red dye migrated from the backing to the top, traveling through needle holes made by the quilting. I can see the remains of a faint pink trail on the ivory/gray border.

All I want for Christmas is a new space for the Mods to meet and for a grocer in Manhattan with shelf space to stock liquid starch. Santa, you know it all comes down to real estate in my neck of the woods.

Me, Myself, and Starch in the Suburbs

Me, Myself, and Starch in the Suburbs

21 Comments

NancyR

I have trouble accessing spray starch. Even Best Press is hard to find now that my local quilt store is closed. After researching on the internet and trying various methods, I use Elmer’s school glue, diluted to the concentration I want. Works very well and is economical. I put it in a spray bottle. The sprayer handle has to rinsed in warm water using a bottle with just water in it, when I am done. I love starching my fabric and regret it every time I don’t.

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Joan Gagnon

I buy spray starch at Walmart in the laundry supply section for 97 cents a can, where as the same starch at Safeway is $2.98. And I too use a lot of starch.

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Linda S Benoit

Am I the only one who has issues with Spray starches. I can use the can for a couple of sprays and then it’s clogged. I’ve tried washing the nozzle and I’ve tried spraying with the can upside down.

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Polly

I sometimes have that happen. But not always. So when I finish a can that hasn’t clogged I pull off the nozzle and save it. If I then get a clogged nozzle I pull it off and replace with the good one.

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Diane Scheid

Walmart carries liquid starch! My local grocery stores carry Niagara Spray starch in non-aerosol bottles, they never clog.

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Barbara Bennett

My walmart doesn’t have liquid starch. Often has no starch at all, especially the 97 cents a can kind.

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Liz

How do you use liquid starch? Do you put it in a spray bottle or dunk the fabric in it. It is Very difficult to get even spray starch here .
Thanks
Liz

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chevelle taylor

Niagra spray starch an sizing is sold in most grocery stores in the Laundry detergent section…usually 97 cents to 1.60 a can….I usually buy 5 or 6 cans at a time

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Eileen

I buy the plastic bottle of concentrated starch. I put it in a spray bottle (old Best Press one) and dilute it half and half with regular water. You can add a couple of drops of a fragrance oil if you want it scented.

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Kerry Davidson

I have had success when washing fabrics that may bleed by putting a couple of “Colour Catcher” sheets in the washing machine with the quilt. You would probably need to do it for the first few washes if the colour is particularly prone to running. I bought them in the laundry section of the supermarket, and I’m sure if they are available here in Australia, they would definitely be available in America

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Claudine

I am cautious with starch. While I agree it makes for lovely sewing feel bacause it makes fabric behave, I find the Niagra sometimes leaves spots on the fabric. Best press is much more expensive, and doesn’t starch as stiffly, but it is more reliable with not leaving unsightly residue.

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Bonnie Matzke

I make my own spray starch. I gallon distilled water, remove 1 cup of water replace it with one cup Vodka any brand will do. Put in spray bottle. Works for me.

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Lynne

Hi Bonnie,
I love your tip for homemade starch. I’m brand new to quilting and any good tip is worth its weight in gold! I live in the UK so brands of starch or glue have to be “researched” and tried experimentally before I dare use them. The distilled water is easy to find, and the vodka… Well, very easy to obtain! Thankyou for the tip! Regards, Lynne

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Cindy B

I can still buy the powdered starch at the local grocery here. I think I better stock up on that to give my kids a box to save as antique. LOL

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Vesta-Jo Christy

I have a hard time finding starch. Bought some when on holidays in Washington state

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JulieCC

I make my own spray starch with powdered corn starch and water. I heat it awhile in the microwave so it won’t go bad on me. It lasts a very long time. I store the concentrate in a Mason jar and add to my spray bottle as needed. I also add whatever essential oil I like at the time. It is super cheap, works well, and does not flake. It’s so much less expensive than liquid starch. I tried Best Press (which you can make with vodka as someone else mentioned) and could not understand the fuss, especially for the horrific price.

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Arden

I use liquid starch (4 cups water to one cup starch) in a bucket and dunk the fabrics in it. In the summer I hang them dripping on a clothesline outside. In the winter, I toss dripping pieces into the dryer with a dry towel and run them about 10 minutes or less and then hang to dry on lines in the basement. I use a 4 to 1 ratio. I don’t like any spray because it doesn’t cover evenly!

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Bette

I took a couple of classes with Anita and she convinced me about the importance of starch. Recently I heard about the vodka starch recipe, as mentioned here, and I’m curious if it produces comparable results to traditional starch.

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Anita Grossman Solomon

Bette,
I thought I’d give that new recipe a tryout. I went to the liquor and asked for the least expensive vodka. I told the salesperson I needed it to mix with starch. He nodded; perhaps he assumed I’d be cooking up penne with vodka sauce. I don’t know that the vodka made a difference in the starch solution but I noticed it in the vapors when I ironed.

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Toni

It was mentioned on a quilt show that starch will attract silverfish and that sizing is a better choice. I don’t know this for sure, but I do use spray sizing and it works as well as spray starch.

Reply

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