Ask the Experts: Do you use spray starch when you sew?
Often, while sewing away, a quick question comes up that we wish we could ask all of our favorite sewists. We decided to go ahead and do it! We asked Jacquelyn Gering, Elizabeth Hartman, Sarai Mitnick, Betz White and Heather Jones to tell us about spray starch. Do they use it for sewing? Do they have a favorite brand? Let us know about your experiences with spray starch in the comments. We also want to hear your ideas for future questions. Do you have any fun sewing questions you’d like us to ask?
Tell us about spray starch. Do you use it when you sew? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite brand? Tips, tricks or warnings?
Jacquelyn Gering: I don’t use traditional spray starch because it tends to gum up my iron, but I do use Best Press, which is a starch alternative. When I need a little extra stabilization of my fabric or if I need a bit of an assist with pressing, I turn to Best Press. I like to add a little bit of stiffness to the fabric, especially when cutting improvisational curves. When the fabric is freshly pressed and crisp, it doesn’t slide or wrinkle when I’m cutting improvisationally. I also use Best Press to remove stubborn wrinkles in fabric or to assist with pressing, especially when multiple seams are coming together. I am careful to PRESS not iron when using Best Press because any time your fabric is moist there is the possibility of stretching or skewing a block.
Jacquelyn Gering from Tallgrass Prairie Studio is a board member for The Modern Quilt Guild, busy supporting the planning of QuiltCon. Jacquie co-authored the popular Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts. You might also remember her beautiful Quilted Tree Skirt tutorial here at Sew,Mama,Sew!
Elizabeth Hartman: I don’t use spray starch, but I love Best Press starch alternative. I prefer the lavender scent, which I buy by the gallon. I find that it’s wonderful for stabilizing patchwork piecing and for getting stubborn wrinkles out of fabric.
Elizabeth Green-Hartman from Oh, Fransson! is author of The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker: 12 Quilt Projects and Modern Patchwork: 12 Quilts to Take You Beyond the Basics. Elizabeth is also a board member with The Modern Quilt Guild. Elizabeth created an entire series of fabulous tutorials for us (favorites include the Laptop Sleeve and the Stack & Nest Quilted Blocks).
Heather Jones: I don’t use spray starch when I’m sewing or quilting. I press with a very hot iron and lots of steam, so I’ve never felt the need to add starch to any of my projects.
Heather Jones of Olive and Ollie is the founder and former president of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. She recently finished her first line of modern quilting patterns which you can find in the Olive and Ollie shop. She will be a lecturer at The Modern Quilt Guild QuiltCon conference next year.
Sarai Mitnick: I find that spray starch can scorch and build up on my iron. But I do use Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer for lightweight, unstable fabrics. I spray it all over prewashed fabric to give it a bit of stiffness, which makes it much easier to cut accurately. I find it especially helpful for silk charmuese, which tends to slide all over the place otherwise. It’s always washed out easily, though of course you can do a patch test if you’re worried about staining delicate fabrics. I love this stuff!
Sarai Mitnick is the owner and designer of Colette Patterns and author of the fantastic The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress. You can find more from Sarai at the Coletterie, where there are always great sewing tips, smart discussion and sneak peeks at beautiful patterns to come. Sarai joined us last year with The Hows and Whys of Clips and Notches and All About Grainline ~ A Grainline Primer.
Betz White: I’m not a user of traditional spray starch, but I do have a favorite product that is similar. It is called Stiffen Quick by Aleene’s and it is a fabric stiffening spray. I use it for my dimensional felt projects, such as flowers or ornaments, when I want the felt to hold a specific shape. Simply form the felt (or other fabric) into your desired shape, then spray. It takes an hour to dry or microwave it for 30 seconds. The result is a crisp look that is great for perking up floppy bows or other dimensional projects that need a little body. It’s like hairspray for your crafts!
Betz White is a fabric designer (Stitch organic cotton print collection with The Robert Kaufman Company), and author of Warm Fuzzies and Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials. Betz is also a pattern designer with a full series of Betz White Make New or Make Do™ Sewing Patterns. Betz stopped by the blog for our Digital Delivery Sewing series with a great discussion about Zero-Waste in the Sewing Industry.
What about you? Do you use spray starch or an alternative? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?
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