Thursday, September 27, 2012

Starchy Experiments

Best Press - my favorite!
A couple months ago I was reading a blog and the author was discussing how she likes to starch everything all the time.  I'd never starched a thing in my life.  Well except when I was attempting applique - I really am not a big fan of raw edges, so I tried the whole starching and pressing with a little tiny iron to have a nice finished edge on applique pieces.  Needless to say, there hasn't been much applique in my life following THAT experience.  My fingers ended up starchy and blistery.  I used Niagara non-aerosol spray starch.  It just left crustiness everywhere and tended to scorch a bit.  

In the spring, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway and a really heavy mystery box arrived in the mail.  It was an iron and a bottle of Mary Ellen's Best Press!  I used most of that bottle starching the hell out of my Birds of a Feather quilt top and backing.  It made spray basting much easier - wrestling with the wrinkles as you're gluing everything together is a pain.  After starching, there are no wrinkles to speak of!  And it made quilting nice, things seemed to just lay flatter in general.  And so my love of starching was born.

Niagara Non-Aerosol Spray Starch
That old bottle of Niagara spray starch was still sitting around.  So I started using it when I ran out of Best Press.  At the time, I was working on a quilt that was mostly dark colors.  The Niagara spray flaked terribly and left my iron crusty.  It did the job, and I am assuming it will wash out (that quilt is still just a top folded up waiting to be finished), but it looks a little gross in the mean time.

Mid-quilt, I switched from Niagara to Faultless Premium Starch (I went to Target at 8:50 pm and that's all that was left!).  It worked pretty well and didn't flake.  The aerosol did get to me though.  And I'm a fan of unscented things - the fresh scent of the starch was sort of nauseating.  But it did the job.

Faultless Premium Starch
When that ran out, I found Faultless Heavy Starch (try going to the store at a more normal time and there are more things in stock on the shelves!) - the scent is much more pleasant and the fabric is so much more crisp than with the Premium Starch!

As far as economy goes, the aerosol seems to give the best bang for your buck.  Does anyone know where to get mass quantities of Best Press in stores?  I've found gallon jugs online but shipping so much liquid comes at an outrageous price.  I've checked the local JoAnn Stores, hoping to use a coupon, but haven't found it in-store anywhere, only online.

So, in conclusion, I found Best Press to be best (but pricey), followed by Faultless Heavy Starch in second place, Faultless Premium Starch in third, and Niagara non-aerosol spray bringing up the rear. 

Faultless Heavy Starch
I read somewhere that vodka and distilled water are a homemade version of Best Press.  Has anyone tried this?  I don't keep cheap vodka on hand and I don't want to waste my good small-batch vodka (spent a little time...and the Smooth Ambler distillery this past weekend) in an experiment! 

Has anyone tried making their own spray starch?  If you've got an awesome recipe that you love, I'd love to hear about it!

So what else have I been doing for the past...month?  I'm almost finished with the Birds of a Feather quilt!  The Groove quilt is quilted (I half-assed it and just did stitch in the ditch), all that's left is to hand-sew the binding!   Christmas Ribbons is coming along nicely.  And for the last week or so, I've been back on the Pebble Quilting train - it's painfully slow.  But the quilt is probably about 50% quilted!  Hopefully by Monday I will have it about 75% done!  More updates soon :)


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