Starching: A Good Solution
From the September/October 1997 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.
Don't you wish fabric wouldn't wobble when you cut it, wouldn't stretch when you sewed along its bias, wouldn't creep forward when you sewed it to another patch? Well, your wishes can come true--in a bottle of laundry starch!
Debra Wagner, a quiltmaker, teacher and author, recommends starching fabric for quiltmaking. Since her award-winning quilts exemplify precision in every detail, we tried her suggestion and quickly became firm supporters.
If you already carefully trim points on patches and sew an exact 1/4" seam allowance, this may be the only other secret you need to become a precision patchworker. Give it a try!
We prefer liquid starch to the spray version because it penetrates the threads better and coats the iron less--and doesn't starch your work area too.
Mix together equal portions of water and liquid laundry starch in a container large enough to hold the fabric. (Sta-Flo® is an economical choice.) A two-cup solution will easily starch three yards of fabric.
Immerse prewashed fabric in the starch solution and squish it around until all the threads are saturated. Squeeze it out well and hang or drape the fabric to dry.
It's not a good idea to put the fabric in the dryer because the tumbling action will soften the threads. Ironing wet starched fabric won't work either--you'll have a starch-coated iron. So just be patient until your fabric is damp dry.
If the fabric dries completely, press it with steam or mist and press. If that does not remove wrinkles to your satisfaction, sprinkle the fabric with water, roll it up, and store in a plastic bag for a few hours, just the way Grandma--or Great Grandma--did. Then iron.
With this 50/50 solution, your fabric will have the stiffness of typing paper.
Some Do's and Don'ts
Starching is an easy way to tame your fabric. It won't wobble and it won't stretch so patches will keep their shape. Admirers of your quilts will wish they knew your secret.