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Thread: question about sizing/starching fabric

  1. #1
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    I've been thinking about the many statements/comments I've been reading that go something like this:

    "I starch/stiffen light/flimsy/wonky fabrics so I can work with them ---"

    I've been wondering - what happens to the fabric(s) in the item after it has been washed?

    If it is only one "substandard" fabric in the piece, why would one use it? Wouldn't that pull down the quality of the whole item?

    I kind of have a thing about trying to use similar quality/weight fabrics for a whole top or a whole back. If there is a really flimsy fabric in with more durable ones in a "working quilt" - would that wear out first?

    I made a quilt for my daughter that had a lighter weight cotton - it wasn't exactly "flimsy", but it was lighter weight than the Kona I had used for the sashing, and that has holes and tears in it (big dogs were allowed on it), but the Kona is still fine.

    I really don't know the answer(s) - it just seems counter-productive in the long run.


  2. #2
    harrishwhippets's Avatar
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    I really starch all the fabric I am currently working on, cause I'm a clumsy cutter. I wash everything I quilt even the stuff for ragging, so after, it tends to loose it's stiffness, and I have to put it back. So mine isn't about the quality of the fabric cause I do it to everything, flannels, even the back of my chenille. Just so I can get better cuts. That's just me. I've had flannel pill badly, some stuff for my rag quilts looks crappy after it's washed once it's made, so I do it cause I want no suprises. I had very nice lqs fabric that did not look as nice after I ragged it with certain flannels, would not have put the stuff together if I knew the end results. My dogs have a few quilts cause I only washed them after I finished.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrishwhippets
    I really starch all the fabric I am currently working on, cause I'm a clumsy cutter. I wash everything I quilt even the stuff for ragging, so after, it tends to loose it's stiffness, and I have to put it back. So mine isn't about the quality of the fabric cause I do it to everything, flannels, even the back of my chenille. Just so I can get better cuts. That's just me. I've had flannel pill badly, some stuff for my rag quilts looks crappy after it's washed once it's made, so I do it cause I want no suprises. I had very nice lqs fabric that did not look as nice after I ragged it with certain flannels, would not have put the stuff together if I knew the end results. My dogs have a few quilts cause I only washed them after I finished.
    Sounds like you've had a few "learning experiences" - - -

    Nothing like an "unexpected result" to make one remember it!

  4. #4
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    Trust me Bear, I realllllly don't like doing this, today I have been searching for sta-flo and can't find the bloody stuff. Walmart stopped caring it. Went to Target, grocery stores, dollar stores. Going to order Argo from some hunting store of all places tomorrow. I don't keep the starched stuff hanging around, and I wash everything to get it out, before I give it away. Such a pain, but just want to be sure that I can cut a straight line and it helps me to sew one straight. Crap happens when we get older!!!!! :lol:

  5. #5
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    I usually cut fabric with the "back/wrong" side up - so I can see the grain lines.

    I think I might have a tough of OCD.

  6. #6
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    Do you starch and press your fabric right before you cut it?

    Or do you do that right after you wash it?

    I think if I was a starcher, I would do it right before cutting. I think I'm afraid that creatures would think the starch was a snack.

    But the stuff comes with all kinds of stuff in it off the bolt. Wonder what is all put in/on the fabric?

  7. #7
    harrishwhippets's Avatar
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    I always wash what I'm going to use the day before the project and than starch just before i cut it. My starched pcs probably stay that way not longer than a week than wash as soon as I finish. But unlike a lot of you I don't do big projects, no larger than I can quilt with out a struggle on my machine, no bigger than 60x 70. So it doesn't take long.
    But before I got off on this tangent, I think you were referring to inferior material, which I do buy and pratice my stitches on only. With batting, I do my dec stitchs and free motion, that I have been trying lately, plan on an hour every night, till I get it.
    I try only to use better material for anything I'm giving away and do a ton of sales. On line and at the shops here. I try not to pay more than $5.00 for anything, since I'm unemployed I can't. If I buy crap I don't think even starching the snot out of it will help down the road!!! That's my theory. Is that crystal ???

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    Do you starch and press your fabric right before you cut it?

    Or do you do that right after you wash it?

    I think if I was a starcher, I would do it right before cutting. I think I'm afraid that creatures would think the starch was a snack.

    But the stuff comes with all kinds of stuff in it off the bolt. Wonder what is all put in/on the fabric?
    You want to starch your fabric right before you cut it, and for exactly the reason you've guessed! Silverfish and other little bugs and beetles just love to get in and eat the starch, and any fabric it is attached to. Yikes! Not a fun discovery when you are searching through your fabric stash. This is especially important in the desert, where silverfish are plentiful.

    I always wash my fabrics when I bring them home. This removes any sizing, many chemicals that I and other of my friends are allergic to. It also shrinks the fibers, which have been stretched a god-awful amount at the factory, and it removes any excess dye that could travel to other fabrics in a quilt. Once clean and dry I fold them, using a 6" ruler to wrap the fabric around. I use the ruler as a way to keep all my folded fabrics the same exact width, which makes them easy to store. I don't starch them now because of the above problem with bugs, but also because there are times I definitely do NOT want starch in my fabrics. If I'm doing any hand applique, the last thing I want is stiff fabric. But for piecing it is a dream and can really help in making accurate points. It also keeps the fabric from stretching, which is great if you are working with bias seams.

    Once done I wash my quilts and I don't use anything else on them; no softners or pretty smelling dryer sheets. The reason is that I know too many people who are allergic to such things and I try to be very careful not to use anything that they (or myself) would get sick from. But that's my own personal circle and others may not have the same issues with chemicals and so they may enjoy such things.

  9. #9
    harrishwhippets's Avatar
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    Tiffany>Ditto, very well explained.

  10. #10
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray
    Wonder what is all put in/on the fabric?
    Formaldehyde is the most common chemical in new fabrics. It's what gives it that "new fabric" smell. :shock:

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