Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm sitting here thinking about 

I admit that ... I don't get it.  I can't understand nor imagine why anyone would want to gunk up their fabric with starch. Unless maybe you don't have a walking foot, then I am able to make some sense out of it.

When I was young (prior to permanent press) we starched shirts while ironing and I remember being glad that they weren't my shirts and that I wasn't going to have to wear them. 

Luckily, "To each his own".

I sew 99% of everything I sew with a walking foot.  It's the best $150. I've ever saved and spent and when it gives out, I will buy another.  But I just can't even think about starch.  Yuk.  But am I missing something here?

So, if you starch and you have a walking foot, I'd love for you to explain to me why starch your fabric too?...cause I'd love to be able to say, "oh, I get it now".

Starchless in California


  1. I use starch whenever I am doing anything on the bias. I also love the feel of a block after it is squared and starched. Just a personal preference. I also use a walking foot but only when I am working on something that is bulky.

  2. No, don't use...never will. I do have ironing water from 'Thymes' that smells amazing and helps with steam iron resistant wrinkles. Love the vintage pic you posted :)

  3. Best Press is not fact, when I buy it, I mix it 50/50 with water. My walking foot is big and bulky and I can't see anything when I use it. Therefore, I use it only when doing bindings and straight line stitching.

  4. Hi Annie,
    I use starch with an applique technique I like. I also use it when doing some heirloom specialty stitches or piecing mostly bias edges. I mostly use Best Press because it has a light fragrance, adds body, isn't stiff and doesn't flake. For the applique technique, I spray the heavy-duty starch into a small dish and paint it on the seam allowances. For heirloom specialty stitches, I use the heavy-duty spray starch also, soak the fabric with it and then press until completely dry. That heavy starching plus stabilizer will then support the dense heirloom stitches.

  5. I don't often use starch...but occasionally. I am a prewasher, mostly for the purpose of removing the sizing and chemicals from the fabric. It makes the fabric more likely to squirm and stretch, but I prefer to not breathe the fumes of unwashed fabric when it is ironed. Starch will keep the fabric from squirming, but I don't like breating that either. It also makes the skin on my fingers dry and crack. I only use my walking foot when quilting or sewing thick things.
    I've read that some people starch their backings. I've never and don't get tucks. I've heard people starch before doing iron on applique...which the instructions says starch will prevent the iron on stuff from adhering.
    Starching or not prewashing will give nicer results because the fabric is more stable, but i'd rather not.

  6. I use Mary Ellen's Best Press a LOT when pressing seams. I love the extra help it gives my fabric beyond what steam could do, and it doesn't leave any residue on my iron.

    I don't see an advantage to my walking foot, however. I used it for the first time when machine quilting last week, and it was big, unwieldy, difficult to see around, and loud.

    Honestly, I've been sewing my entire life, and at least monthly for the last 20 years, and I cannot figure out what connection there is between starch and a walking foot. Can you explain? How does a walking foot help with keeping seams flat when matching them or sewing over them?

  7. Love the feel of that picture...pretty! OK, here's my two cents worth: I only starch if I'm sewing two bias edges together - I've had terrible luck with those edges stretching, and getting really awful seams. I use my walking foot when I'm sewing through fabric and batting...that thickness doesn't play well with my regular machine foot, but will go on through nicely with the walker. That said, I really don't enjoy using the special foot too much, because I'm another for whom it seems unwieldy, and blocks my "normal" view of the fabrics/seams. I am thinking about getting some Best Press after seeing all of the recommendations up there! LOL Do you find that your walking foot helps you handle bias? I'd love to hear about it, so I'd know whether or not to try.... :)

  8. I use Magic Sizing when to make accuracy more accessible to me. I use my walking foot for quilting and sewing long strips, but I cannot use it to make accurate quarter inch seams on small pieces. I don't find that it makes my quilts stiff, and I wash my quilts so it isn't much of an issue.

  9. I do use 'Light Body Magic Sizing' almost all the time, mostly to give the fabric a bit of body. And I have a built in walking foot on my machine, but mostly use it when I'm quilting or have something really bulky to sew. My first quilting teacher uses it (she's been quilting for forever) and recommends everyone she teaches to use it.

  10. My LQS recommended starching every time you press your work. I tried it for a while. Used LQS's recommended product in a spray bottle. I didn't really notice a big difference, but did find that my ironing board cover and the floor under my ironing board received a lot of overspray. I stopped using the spray. I only use my walking foot when stitching several layers together.

  11. All these experiences and opinions regarding the use of and a favorite starching agent is quite informative. Thank you all for chiming in!

  12. I'm with you--I do not like to use starch. However, I love Niagra's Easy Iron, which gives you a great smooth finish without the stiffness and it smells great. Sadly, I haven't been able to find it anywhere in recent years.

  13. I use starch on fabric for accurate cutting of quilt patterns when using a rotary cutter. It keeps the fabric from sliding on the rotary mat, and I cut accurate pieces. When I sew starched fabric I get accurate 1/4" seams which is necessary for quilt patterns. I have found that the starch sometimes shrinks my fabric a tad bit, so I starch prior to cutting my quilt pieces, not after (I don't prewash). I have been told that starch attracts bugs, so the quilt needs to be laundered. I also enjoy the stiffness of the fabric, which glides when sewn and small pieces don't shift (half-square triangles for example). I don't always starch, but I love using starch for a crisp sewing experience. I only use the walking foot for sewing three layers, batting, fabric, etc...
    Enjoyed the tips from other readers, now you need a write up on the starches your followers use and why? lol....
    Texan fan

  14. Add me to the confused by they connection between starching and using a walking foot. I use starch quite a bit because I find it makes ironing easier. I use Niagra non-aerosol starch which I dilute with at least 3 parts water. When I need to clean my iron I use the Faultless hot iron cleaner.

    I've had a number of irons and I do find that a stainless steel plate is easier to keep clean. More importantly, I can easily see by looking at it if it needs to be cleaned before I start pressing that white shirt!

  15. Am I in trouble here? Do I need to stick my nose in the corner?

    I use starch, and use alot of it but I will say that I am now using Best Press, works great to keep your fabric in shape.

  16. I don't use it often but since I started starching the snot out of fabric before cutting a bias edge, I have had next to no problems with pieces stretching out of shape. In those situations I use Faultless Maxx and it works fabulously.

  17. Hi Annie,

    I use a walking foot all the time. I just bought some Best Press to use with a paper piecing project I have been working on.

    Based on comments on your blog, I now may try it on some bias edge projects.


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