The Answer to an Age-Old Debate: Should You Starch Your Quilt?

It's one of the fiercest debates in quilting — starch or no starch?

Picking a side isn't simple. If you choose to join Team Starch, you need to know when to use the stuff, and how much. If you prefer to go starch-free, you should know when that's okay and what you're in for.

The tips below will help you figure out how to have the best quilting experience for you, starch or no.

Know When to Starch and When To Skip It

If you're going to start quilting the moment you bring home the fabric , don't starch it. But if you want to soften the fabric by washing it first, then bring on the starch. 

Why? When you wash fabric, you rinse away the finish left from the manufacturing process. Starching helps restore the structure and helps you when working with bias edges or narrow strips.

Don't Mix Starched and Non-Starched Fabrics

The cloth pieces will work differently. Really: You don't want to mess with that.

Starch, Then Press

Once you starch your fabric pieces, press (do not iron!) them with a steam iron. Let the starch dry before ironing to reduce flaking. And be sure the iron doesn't get too hot, since starched fabric scorches more easily.

Bone Up On Different Types of Starches

Starches that come in spray form are convenient and easy to use, and come in various concentrations. But liquid starch, with its easy-to-follow directions for diluting, gives you more flexibility in deciding how stiff you want the fabric.

You could also consider Mary Ellen’s Best Press starch alternative . It works as well as traditional starch but doesn't flake or leave residue — and it smells like lavender.

Don't Starch and Store

If you starch your fabric, start working on it right away. Otherwise, you'll get deep creases in your newly crisp fabric if you fold and stash it. And you might attract bugs too — silverfish love starch. Instead, wash the fabric to get rid of the starch and keep those nasty silverfish away.

See If Starch Helps Your Sewing

People swear that starch makes it easier to slide fabric through the sewing machine . Try it — and see if quilting becomes easier or more fun. Just don't starch your backing fabric if you're using a spray baste product. The two counteract each other, and your backing fabric won’t stick to the batting.

If you're still not convinced that starching is worth it, starch some scrap fabrics and see how it affects your quilting.

Good luck with your starch strategizing!

January 14, 2019
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The Answer to an Age-Old Debate: Should You Starch Your Quilt?