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DIY Quilter’s Spray Starch Recipe

Since we’re living in “unprecedented times,” many of us are having to make do with what’s in our pantry. Some of us have loads of time on our hands and are taking the DIY lifestyle to a whole other level: creating elaborate villages out of sourdough, exploring our inner hairdresser, and crafting artisanal toilet paper out of dryer lint. (Now that spring has almost arrived, I’m looking forward to putting violets in mine! [Works for all three items in the preceding sentence, if you think about it.])

In honour of the DIY renaissance, I figured I would share with you this handy recipe for making your own spray starch using two simple ingredients from your pantry! Ok, technically only one is in your pantry, unless you have a very fancy pantry with running water.

If you’ve read any of my quilt patterns, you will have seen the recommendation to starch and press your fabric before cutting, in order to avoid distortion while cutting and piecing. Spray starch gives your quilt fabric a little bit of stiffness (or a lot, depending on how liberally you spray it) that helps your fabric behave a bit more like paper. It’s really a game changer in terms of getting accurate piecing for your quilt top.

When I first started quilting, the best piece of advice I was given was to use starch, and the recipe I was given was similar to this one. I liked the thriftiness and simplicity of using a staple from my kitchen, rather than buying an expensive, single purpose product.

I’ve since moved on to using Mary Ellen’s Best Press, a starch alternative. I buy it wholesale by the gallon and refill my smaller spray bottles to my heart’s content. While DIY starch does an excellent job at stiffening fabric, you should be aware of some potential issues with it:

  • You have to keep it refrigerated, and it only lasts about 2 weeks. When it goes off, it STINKS!
  • It can leave white flakes on darker fabrics, though these will wash off.
  • You have to be careful not to scorch it with your iron.
  • You might not want to starch fabric and then store it, as it might attract hungry pests.

All that being said, if you’re quilting in times of quarantine, DIY starch might be better than nothing. And since I’ve now written a preamble worthy of a three-star food blogger, here’s the recipe:

DIY Spray Starch Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • (optional) a drop of essential oil of your choice, for fragrance

Thoroughly mix corn starch in cold water.
Add boiling water and stir well.
Allow to cool, then add essential oil, if using, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.
Label the spray bottle to remind yourself to SHAKE it before each use.
Spray fabric and press before cutting.
Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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