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Thread: Another question about Starch Re:Another question from a newbie

  1. #1
    Senior Member lvaughan's Avatar
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    I have a question also-Do you know what our Grandmothers did, as to starch, before or after or at all?

  2. #2
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    I never starched my fabric for quilting before but I tried by using the sizing recipe and found the fabric was easier to cut and handle. I don't believe in washing the fabric before cutting the pieces but many do. Whatever turns them on, is okay with me.I have talked to expert quilters who told me they never do. Fabric loses its newness from washing I believe. If a fabric is wrinkled somewhat, a quick spray of starch would do wonders to handle it. Try it both ways and see what you like.

    Carol J.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Brynn's Avatar
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    I use Best Press (which I think is technically a 'starch') when I'm doing the final seams to bring a top together. I find it helps everything stay flat during the pinning and quilting process.

  4. #4
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    First, they would have made their starch from flour and water if you want to go back far enough in time. Later from it would have been made from purchased(usually Niagara brand) dry starch powder which was added to water, boiled, cooled and then diluted to desired strength. The fabric would have been dipped in the starch, hung to dry, ironed, then cut to size with scissors and stitched. When the quilt was washed or rinsed the starch would have all come out. The quilt fabric would have been starched along with the weekly laundry and probably ironed with the weekly laundry as well. In between starching and ironing, it had to sprinkled, rolled up, let sit awhile for the moisture to be evenly absorbed through the fabric so that the (dry) iron could iron it. You also had to iron quickly, or to reapply moisture by wiping the starched garment/fabric with a damp washcloth or rag. I don't think anyone had a spray bottle.

  5. #5
    Super Member Doreen's Avatar
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    I use Best press but I water it down and it still works. I buy it by the gallon on Mary Ellen's website. Depending on how much you order , you get free shipping. You can share a gallon Just have friends bring their sprayer. There are new fragrances and the non fragrance. The small bottles make great gifts!

  6. #6
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    That's an interesting question, and good information from TanyaL. I'd like to hear from some people who remember their grandmothers quilting. My only memory of that is playing - once - under a huge quilt frame in my grandmother's living room while she and members of her church quilted what I think must have been a signature quilt for a sick friend.

  7. #7
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I don't believe starch was ever made from flour and water since flour and water make glue. Laundry starch was originally made from cornstarch.

    Cornstarch has been around since the middle 1800s.

  8. #8
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    In asia, it's made from the liquid left over after you rinse the rice.

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    It can also be made from potatoes. This is an interesting article on starch, which has been around at least since 1390 - http://www.oldandinteresting.com/lau...h-history.aspx

  10. #10
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    It can also be made from potatoes. This is an interesting article on starch, which has been around at least since 1390 - http://www.oldandinteresting.com/lau...h-history.aspx
    That's a great article!

  11. #11
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    We "sprinkled" clothes before ironing them. We used a thin metal thing with holes in it and a cork on the bottom, also with a hole in it so the water would come up from either a beer or soda bottle. Hence, the sprinkling.
    Very fine ground corn was used for cornstarch and those who couldn't afford that, did used flour, thinned with water. If you make gravy from scratch, let the container sit after you have used the liquid inside and you will find a very fine powdery surface. Starch helped with washing the clothes, the dirt came out easier and when used for ironing, made the cottons smooth and neat. People strived for clean, neat and smooth cotton clothing before permanent press came on the scene.

    Carol J.


    Quote Originally Posted by TanyaL
    First, they would have made their starch from flour and water if you want to go back far enough in time. Later from it would have been made from purchased(usually Niagara brand) dry starch powder which was added to water, boiled, cooled and then diluted to desired strength. The fabric would have been dipped in the starch, hung to dry, ironed, then cut to size with scissors and stitched. When the quilt was washed or rinsed the starch would have all come out. The quilt fabric would have been starched along with the weekly laundry and probably ironed with the weekly laundry as well. In between starching and ironing, it had to sprinkled, rolled up, let sit awhile for the moisture to be evenly absorbed through the fabric so that the (dry) iron could iron it. You also had to iron quickly, or to reapply moisture by wiping the starched garment/fabric with a damp washcloth or rag. I don't think anyone had a spray bottle.

  12. #12
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    My information on the flour and water formula for starch came from a novel that said in the 1700's that is how they made their starch. A weak glue would make a starch and definitely would wash out. I'm not sure how you would make corn starch starting from an ear of corn. I know that I have heard that the water left from boiling potatoes made a weak starch. When I was first married I starched my husband's military fatigue uniforms with the Niagara powdered starch. The shirt and trousers had to be able to stand by themselves without bending when placed carefully on the floor. Talk about strong cotton fabric! I think that was more my husband's idea than the US Air Force's. That marriage wasn't exactly made in heaven.

  13. #13
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Ha! Husbands and their military uniforms made me laugh. When we were first married, I tried starching and ironing my husband's USMC utilities. He wasn't quite satisfied with the result, and told me so. From then on he did them himself. Worked out well for me, and yes I still have that husband.

  14. #14
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    TanyaL-you have the right idea. I was in Penn. at the MIL's house and she used flour and water for starch for my little girl's dresses. My mother boiled starch from a box named Argo and I used Niagara cold water starch for years.
    My DD told me her husband wanted some of his clothes in the Air Force starched like you said, I guess inspections did that to them. They were criticized for any little wrinkle.
    I guess people used whatever they had on hand. In the hippie days, people went back to using natural things for their homes and lifestyles. There were a couple books out for them that told them how to live the life of their ancestors. Back to basics was the name of the game. Today it looks like no one starches or irons shirts or blouses, they all look like they just came out of the washbasket, as my mother used to say.

    Carol J.

  15. #15
    Super Member snipforfun's Avatar
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    I doubt if Grandmothers enjoyed ironing any more than we do!! I switched from Best Press to Niagra non-aerosol spray starch. Get the same light starch feel as BP - got it at Walmart for $1.87 for 22 oz.

  16. #16
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    I have never starched but I do not pre-wash. I use good quality fabric and in 10 years not one has ever run on me - knocking on wood as we speak.

  17. #17
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I remember the days when my mother would lug the wagon to the laundry facility just outside of town. She had an assigned time to do all the family laundry. They had the huge washing machines and manglers. In the summer, the sheets would be laid out on the lawn and sun-bleached. As for starching, the damp clothes were put in the starch liquid, wrung out, and hung up to dry. Then EVERYTHING was ironed. So when there is talk of "the good old times" - no thanks - I like the now.

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