One of the Facebook groups that I belong to recently had a short discussion on products that are used when pressing fabrics. I have three kinds in my sewing arsenal, so I thought I'd share what I know about these products.
Lets talk starch. This product has been around forever. I remember linen tablecloths being starched and pressed and they would be like cardboard. And how do you think cowboys get that crease down the front of their Wranglers? Starch, lots of it, and a hot press.
Sta-Flo concentrated starch.
This jug has been in my laundry room in 4 different locations. I just keep moving it with me. It's cheap, and it works. $3.25 online at Walmart. This makes the equivalent of 7 - 22 oz cans of spray starch. But it's starch. This product needs to be mixed and you can control the amount of starch in your spray. Some people will spray their damp fabric with starch, let it dry, and then iron it. Others give a quick spray and iron right away. Be careful when doing this. If you use a heavy hand when spraying, you can scorch your fabric. You can always spray it a second time, so less is better with all of these products. It's best to use this product when you are getting ready to cut your fabric. Starch can attract bugs, so use it to give your fabric a crisp hand, but wash your quilt once it's finished.
MaryEllen Best Press
This is a starch alternative. It smells really nice, unless you are scent sensitive. It comes ready to use and can be purchased in many sizes. Most quilt shops sell this product. A quick online search finds the small spray bottle (16.9 oz) selling from $7.50 to almost $13.00 You can buy this in bulk and refill your spray bottle, which is great to reduce waste.
Next up is Magic Sizing. This is a lighter product than starch and I LIKE it. No, actually, I LOVE it. It's cheap. I've paid $1.14 up to $2.99 Depends on the store. Think big box vs corner grocery store. It's an aerosol product which can be a downside for some. That is the best part, it sprays evenly and I can get a very light "dusting" of it on my fabric. I don't get dots of spray like I do when using the hand pump type of spray bottle. And it's cheap.
Here is a test run of each product. All three fabrics are from the same manufacturer, Kona Solids. All three were washed and dried on a rack so everything is as controlled as possible. I use a DRY iron.
All three are pretty even once they got the same amount of time under the iron. Truly, the end result is that I have fabric that is prepped and ready to cut. Now to wash the darks that came in my latest package and get busy!
The bottom line, use what you like and can afford and what is available to you.
Disclaimer: I prewash all my fabric. It never enters my sewing room unless it's passed through the laundry room. Once it's washed and dried on a rack, I lightly press and fold. No starch, no sizing, no Best Press. I save that for when I am cutting. I have to give the fabric a press after I unfold it from the bin, so why do the same work twice. If I'm pressing to cut, I only spray the general area that I will be cutting off.
By having fabric that is smooth and wrinkle free, your cutting will be accurate and that is one part of the process that helps give us quilt blocks that finish the correct size and lay flat.
When you are pressing your piece work, use a LIGHT hand when spraying. Yes, these products help us get our seams to lay flat, but be careful to not distort the shape of your pieces. So what products do you use to help wrangle those wrinkles?