Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pressing Matters

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. 

Easy directions to create the level of stiffness you want in your fabric/clothing.



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?

Keep stitching,
Sharon

4 comments:

Janet O. said...

I had never used any kind of starch in my quilting (because I never saw my Mom do it), until someone introduced me to Best Press a few years ago. I have to use the unscented, but even then I only tend to use it when making very small blocks that won't flatten well without it.
Mom just used a spray bottle to dampen fabrics lightly to get the wrinkles out. I have always done the same--haven't ever used a steam iron, either. I am so old school. :)

Karen said...

I didn't know you could still buy the liquid starch. I searched for it at one time in the grocery store and Walmart. Now, I know I can purchase it online, if I want some. I use Niagara spray starch but just recently purchased some Faultless spray starch in the "No Flake" variety. I have not tried it yet. Kimberly from Fat Quarter Shop uses tons of it.

Nifty Quilts said...

Thanks! I've never used a pressing aid except a spray of water and a steam iron. Then I have to hang the fabric to let it dry, all over my sewing room. What a hassle! Maybe I should try some of these. I'm often frustrated with creases that don't come out. I thought my iron wasn't hot enough. Maybe it's my lack of ironing product! Hmm, I wouldn't think of drying my hair without my favorite hair product.

By the way, I'm looking for a new iron. If you have any thoughts on that purchase, I'd love to know them.

Lorrie Shore said...

I have another pressing concoction for you to try. A fellow quilter gave us the recipe at "quilt camp" a couple of years ago. She called it West Virginia quilter's moonshine. Here is the recipe: In a large bowl or clean bucket, mix the following: 1 gallon of distilled water, 1/2 cup liquid starch, and 1/2 cup vodka. Fill a spray bottle with mixture. (You may also add something to add a nice scent to this...but I don't...and I don't remember what she recommended.) I liked this enough that I bought spray bottles for all of my quilting friends and gifted them with a bottle of this.