I’m sharing with you my newly found love, my homemade fabric starch recipe.
Now before I go on, I have heard about starching fabric before, but I was never really convinced enough that it’ll make such a big difference. Besides, to add another step to the quilting process? “Um, I’ll pass.”
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However, recently I was triggered by the idea again when I started to follow Kimberly of FQShop every Friday sewing the Sewcialites Blocks. She has always starched her fabrics, and by the look of it, the fabrics look pretty stiff and super flat when she handles them. She always mentions starching and I guess, why not give it another try.
But I am not really fond of the store-bought starch (although this one has raving reviews and very popular among quilters). I try to avoid products with lots of synthetic chemicals in them. Starch is one of them.
My favourite 505 Basting spray is also another I am not fond of due to the harm that it may cause.
But… I figured, at least, the basting spray is going to be inside the quilt sandwich and I won’t have to really touch it directly when the basting is done.
However, with spray starch, these residuals that stay on the fabric may linger around as we touch the pieces, sew with them, and press. So, I have been trying my best to avoid it. Not that it is proven to be bad though. I was just uncomfortable with the thought of it.
Hence that lead me to try making and using a homemade starch solution. Together with the new-to-me method of starching fabric, I am now regretting I didn’t try this earlier.
Homemade fabric starch recipe
There are many homemade fabric starch recipes that call for rubbing alcohol or vodka, but I don’t have any of those in hand and with the method, I am to do the starching process, both of these are not that necessary.
Vodka or rubbing alcohol makes it easier to evaporate as soon as it is being sprayed on the fabric.
for a 500ml bottle
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 500ml room temperature water
- essential oils
I mix 2 tbsp of cornstarch with a cup of room temperature water and let it dissolves well until no lumps formed. Then pour in the pot, add more water and bring it to boil. After it boils, turn off the heat, stir well until translucent solution is formed. Cool it off, then, drop in some essential oils to your liking and stir again. I personally love lavender and tea-tree or eucalyptus. Adding the essential oil not only makes it lovely smelling when you are starching but it may possibly deter any bugs issues too.
Make sure you cool it down before pouring it in a spray bottle. This fine mist spray bottle has great reviews and is perfect for the task.
And voila, now you have a homemade spray starch ready to use. I wouldn’t keep this as it doesn’t have any preservatives. In my experience, 500 ml is not much and with the method I’m about to share on how to starch fabrics for quilting, it is definitely going to be finished when prepping for just one quilt project.
How to starch quilting fabrics
Previously to learning the new-to-me method, I thought that the only way of starching fabric was by spraying it and ironing them straight after or spraying the blocks after you sewed with them.
I have tried using similar homemade fabric starch by simply spraying onto fabric and press with an iron to dry before. But, it causes so many problems with gunking up my iron and messing up my table and pressing the mat.
Well, I was wrong about the method I used.
There are many ways to starch your fabric. You can even dip them in starch water and hang them to dry.
The method I am currently loving and found that works very well with this homemade starch was this method taught by Kimberly who was taught by Lisa Bongean. And I’m pretty sure Lisa learned it from another quilter before her too. The quilting world is so amazing. With so many techniques to be taught and passed to the next generation of quilters right?
You can find the full tutorial on how to starch fabric HERE>
Homemade Fabric Starch Spray
I am using a spray bottle to starch my fabrics. I spray my fabric on the wrong side until it is all soaked up evenly. Then, I hang them to dry. It takes overnight to dry but definitely worth it.
I am using this dryer stand and it is perfect for light drying like this project!
This spraying method is slightly less messy than dipping it into starch solution and you won’t need to make as much starch as you would if you were to dip the fabrics in them. Less waste and less mess. And it also dries up much quicker than dipping the whole fabric.
However, you do need to get a good spray bottle. This one has great reviews on how uniform and fine the sprayers are. I am just using what I have at home at the moment, but I have also ordered this one to try it out for sure. Mine wasn’t as uniform as it sprays making it harder for me to get a uniform spray across the whole fabric.
A dryer stand like this saves space and easy to fold when you are not using them.
So far after using this method, I haven’t had any issues with the starch gunking up my iron. Not the way I had an issue with the homemade spray using the spray and directly press to dry method.
So does starching fabrics help?
YES! I love it. I love that my fabrics are so much easier to handle after the starching process.
You can also get a more accurate cut as it lays so flat too.
And if you don’t wash your fabric before you use them, this is also a great process to ensure that shrinking is taken care of prior to piecing the pieces.
Sometimes, when we press with steam, the fabric shrinks a little when we haven’t pre-shrunk it through washing them. And that can cause inaccuracies in piecing patchwork units together.
I believe getting them wet all over with the starch solution has helped that process of shrinking, hence there was not much shrinkage that may occur when pressing them with steam.
Overall, I would say that this will now be one of the essential steps in the quilting process. I do feel like it saves me a lot of time when I was working with these starched fabrics as compared to the non-starched ones.
While piecing this project below in which I starched the fabrics, I also worked on a few leaders and enders project with my scraps that I previously cut. These scraps were not starched. And surprisingly, they feel so different when working with them back to back with the starched ones!
I never really thought that it will feel this different.
It was so much easier feeding the starched fabrics under the needles and running fast with the machine was a breeze. Definitely a game-changer.
I definitely will take the time to starch my fabrics beforehand! I guess that also means no ad-hoc (squirrel) quilting projects. LOL.
I am so happy that this homemade fabric starch worked! Otherwise, I would have to go and experiment other recipes too.
So how about you?
Have you tried starching? or were you already starching fabrics before you cut them all this while?
If so, let me know if you make homemade fabric starch too or use the one off the shelves.