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Thread: So once you pre-wash your fabric.. how do you get it to be stiff again for cutting?

  1. #1
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    Question So once you pre-wash your fabric.. how do you get it to be stiff again for cutting?

    I will admit it that I never have pre-washed my fabric before starting a quilt. It sounds like I need to change that, since so many of the fabric bleed these days. I like to cut my fabric when it it is still stiff from coming off the bolt. How can I get the stiffness back once I have washed the pieces?
    I would appreciate any suggestions.

  2. #2
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    Starch is your friend. Either use spray starch (I use the cheapest I can find) or I have dunked whole lengths into liquid starch and let it dry outside. Iron your fabric and you will have the stiff feel you are looking for.

  3. #3
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    Right. I use spray starch. It works great.

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    I use a method I learned about from author Anita Grossman Solomon. I put the fabric and starch in a ZipLoc bag and refrigerate it, usually overnight. I like my fabric to be almost as stiff as a piece of paper --- not to everyone's taste, but doing so has helped me achieve excellent results. Take good care!
    Last edited by Groucho; 03-08-2012 at 01:34 PM. Reason: Poor spelling

  5. #5
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Starch can be a quilters best friend. I do prefer the starch concentrate , then immerse the piece and hang to dry before ironing. If I want to I can make fabric as stiff as card stock.

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    I agree that starching/sizing a fabric is helpful when working with bias edges. It does seem to stabilize the fabric. It also seems to minimize fraying while being handled.

    However, my personal feeling is that if a fabric does not have enough body to be workable with after it's been washed, it's not worth bothering with.

  7. #7
    Senior Member QuiltingHaven's Avatar
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    Starch and I bought the spray can when I first started...don't do it!! Expensive (at Jo Anns) and the nozzle broke before I had used half a can, bought another can and the same thing happened. Now, I buy mine at Walmart, Niagra in a a pump bottle for about $3.00 and it lasts about 2 quilts. Smells good too. There are a number of quilters that make their own and if they give a recipe, you could refill the pump with that and it might be cheaper but I like the convenience at Walmart.
    Busy in Ohio

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Most of the time, simply ironing it works for me, but I also like to use starch. Sizing is another great option, especially if you're going to store it and you live in an area with bugs. Silverfish like starch.

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    Lori, this sounds interesting. More info?

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    Super Member jmabby's Avatar
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    I spray it with water first, then spray startch it with a bottle and spray. Roll it up, put it in a zipper bag and refrigerate it overnite, then iron it.

  11. #11
    Junior Member homebody323's Avatar
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    starching fabric

    I use the liquid starch in the blue plastic bottle, I think it's called Vano? I mix it 50/50 with water. Put it in a yard sprayer (about $15 i bought for this task ONLY) and holds about a gallon. I lay the fabric on plastic tablecloth and spray the inside of the fabric, roll it up and put in the refrigerator or freezer in a zip lock bag. Then when I want to do something other than sew I pull out a couple pieces and iron on the right side. works like a dream. If you want it stiffer, use less water.
    Sally Dolin
    Rock Island, IL

  12. #12
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alikat110 View Post
    Lori, this sounds interesting. More info?
    I buy the starch concentrate Stay Flo it is in a blue 1/2 gallon jug . Walmart carries it with all of the other starches. I can dilute as a need. For really really stiff use full strenght. I like really really stiff when working with small skinny pieces. I can make 1/4 inch sewn( 3/4 inch cut) skinny borders using full strenght. I can just paint it on one end of the fabric for using with borders , using a sponge type paint brush , let it dry naturally by hanging. then iron then cut.
    When I am doing scrappy quilts I will mix approx. 1 to 1 ratio in a large tupperware bowl with lid. thorw in a batch and shake until everything is fully saturated then using a drying rack for drying.
    I also keep a bowl mixed and immerse strips until saturated hang dry then iron prior to cutting.
    One of the benefits of heavily strached fabric is the seams stay where you press them , no flipping back as you are sewing. Cutting accuracy is also greatly improved . If you are a finger pressing person.... it makes the finger pressing more like regular pressing.
    It may seem like a bit of work but I find the benefits are worth it, particulary if you are going to work with small cut pieces. For paper piecing it helps to keep the faric from flipping as you go to sew the seam. I found it very frustrating when paper piecing to turn the paper over only to find one of the fabrics had folded back on itself.
    Dipping into the starch or immersion allows to cotton to completely take in the starch, as apposed to spray that does not fully saturate the fabric.
    Starch does wash out, it also once dry will fall out naturally. Ever worn a starched shirt and at the end of the day its not as stiff.. thats the starch falling out as the fabric is moved or manipulated. When I was a kid and we would starch clothing , if we put it outside on the line to dry on a windy day , not much starch would be left when we brought in the clothes.

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    Oh my, I am new to quilting. I really do not think I will have time for this hobby if I have to do all that before I cut the fabric. May need to rethink this at least until I retire. Do most quilters pre-wash?

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    Tezell0801-- I decided that I should probably pre-wash the dark batiks that I buy. I really do not want those colors to run when I finally need to wash the quilt. I did run out and by some of the Shout color catchers too.

  15. #15
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    I use spray starch.

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    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tezell0801 View Post
    Oh my, I am new to quilting. I really do not think I will have time for this hobby if I have to do all that before I cut the fabric. May need to rethink this at least until I retire. Do most quilters pre-wash?
    It is a topic that is hotly debated!

    The prewashers list: pre-shrinks your fabric, washes out remaining dyes, washes out chemicals/sizing used in manufacturing process.

    The non-prewashers list: like the feel of the fabric before washing, don't want it to shrink yet, are eager to start cutting, don't want to bother with washing.

    I'm sure others will pipe up with their reasons, or you can simply do a search on this board and find many threads discussing this topic.

  17. #17
    Super Member Ruby the Quilter's Avatar
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    I take the fabric out before it is completely dry then press it and use a little starch on it. Love Mary Ellen's Best - buy it by the gallon and last me over a year.
    Quilting in the Desert

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    Senior Member COYOTEMAGIC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tezell0801 View Post
    Oh my, I am new to quilting. I really do not think I will have time for this hobby if I have to do all that before I cut the fabric. May need to rethink this at least until I retire. Do most quilters pre-wash?
    All the fabric in my house has been prewash. I've got tons of allergies and just feel safer with all the "stuff" washed out of the fabric. I've never used starch. Use a glue stick instead of heat bonds like most folks. Use Elmers School glue to bast my quilts. Shoot I don't even iron my fabric after I wash it.I just fold it and put it away. Why? You're just going to have to iron it after you take it off your shelf to use.

  19. #19
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    What is sizing? I thought that meant starching but I am wrong I can see. I would like to know about sizing though. Please let me know. Thanks in advance. Jeanne
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  20. #20
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    I love Mary Ellens Best Press the fragrance free kind.

  21. #21
    Senior Member RonieM's Avatar
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    I use Magic Sizing - about $1 at Wal-Mart.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Handcraftsbyjen's Avatar
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    I don't do anything, I just press it. I would say use starch.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    I use a method I learned about from author Anita Grossman Solomon. I put the fabric and starch in a ZipLoc bag and refrigerate it, usually overnight. I like my fabric to be almost as stiff as a piece of paper --- not to everyone's taste, but doing so has helped me achieve excellent results. Take good care!

    Do you then torn when fabric is damp or is it dry after being refrigerated over it, but cold?

  24. #24
    Senior Member CarrieC's Avatar
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    I starch the living daylights out of my material. My DH swears he could cut a finger on the edge.
    Carrie, Queen of the Seam Rippers!

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    Katmom, I iron the fabric when it is cool and damp. If the fabric is too wet, I'll put it in the dryer for a few minutes first.

    Here is a link to an article that describes Anita's starching technique.
    Last edited by Groucho; 03-12-2012 at 01:11 PM. Reason: Add link

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