Wednesday, November 28, 2018

~ A Homemade Starch Concoction ~

Every quilter has their favorite brand of starch, sizing or fabric stabilizer.  I've tried every product on the market and I always come back to good ole fashion starch.  The big blue concentrated bottle of Sta-Flo allows me to make things stiffer if needed.  When doing turned edge applique I like a lighter starch, but when starching for piecing I tend to go a little stiffer.  The heavy starch helps to control fabric fraying.  It improves cutting accuracy and piecing accuracy.   And I only need to iron the fabric before cutting and after the entire quilt top is complete.  I finger press while assembling the quilt top.  Yes you heard that right...No iron!  As with any so called rule in quilting, there are exceptions.  So occasionally a situation will arise when I need an iron during assembly but more often than not my iron is never even turned on while assembling the quilt.  One more great thing about Sta-Flo is the low odor.  Most brands have some over powering sweet perfume that quite frankly isn't necessary.  

Normally a spare bottle of Sta-flo is tucked away in the laundry room.  But with all the remodeling we've been doing in that area of the house I've downsized a little bit with stocking up on things.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving I noticed my starch bottle was getting low.  No problem, just add it to the grocery list...or so I thought.  The first trip to the grocery store and it's out of stock.  No biggie, there's enough in the bottle to get me through another week.  The second trip to the grocery store and it's still out of stock.  Well what's a gal to do but go to another store...and it's out of stock.  Why is this out of stock everywhere?  Who would have thought there would be a mad rush for Sta-flo at Thanksgiving time.  It must be the same people who bought every box of Vanilla Wafers in county.   So it's Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving and I'm on a county wide scavenger hunt to find Starch and Vanilla Wafers.  Finally at store #3....2 boxes of Wafers!  But still no Sta-flo.  Let's just call it a day and buy another brand.  Niagara it is!

As soon as the spraying begins I remember one of the reasons I stopped using Niagra.  The SMELL!  My nose is on fire and starts to run.  But I press onward, spraying yards of fabric.  When starching several pieces I like to hang them on the quilting frame, allowing them to air dry a bit while I continue to spray more fabric.  This is round 1 of fabric....and some fresh air is needed.  Outside is probably best. My entire house smells of Niagra starch.

It's snowing!  Not enough for a snowman but you never know what the day holds.  Mr. Podunk and I love to make snowmen.  We've made at least one every year since we met 11 yrs ago.  Not everyone loves winter or snow, but for me its a reminder of  finding my sweet Mr. Podunk after a long history of not so sweet relationships.  Maybe I can find time later to make a small snowman from the snow collecting on the porch.   For now I'll grab my fake pumpkin out of the chair, that season is over!

 Back to the Studio,  Round 1 fabric is pressed and Round 2 is airing out.  Yes it needs a good airing out.  Shew-wee!  Do you know why starch has a perfume?  Originally perfume was added to starch to freshen up clothing.  In the olden days doing laundry was quite the chore, wash boards, ringer washer's and line drying.  Clothing always needed a good ironing after washing with these methods.  The reason for the perfume is because you didn't wash your cloths every time you wore them.  As long as they looked clean and didn't smell too horrible you would simply freshen them up with a little starch and a good pressing.  This is also why woman wore aprons, don't wanna get that dress dirty, if you do you'll need to wash it, and that's a chore.   We are so lucky to live in this era of ease.

Two bottles of starch wasn't enough for this large batch of fabrics.  Going into town isn't an option.  It's a twenty minute drive to anywhere that may or may not have starch.  I tried the Vodka starch earlier in the year.  YUK!  It was lacking the stiffness.  And the smell reminded me of my younger days of drinking way to much. Even after adding scents to the mix it made me feel hung over.   So for the first time ever I'm making spray starch.  A quick google search and about 5 minutes of looking at a few different recipes and I'm ready to go for it.   My biggest concern with making my own starch is bugs.  Store bought starch has all kinds of perfumes and chemicals that bugs do not find quite as tasty as what I would make.  My plan is to make mine foul tasting as well because I know there will be fabric scraps stored away for later use.  Let me say before giving you my recipe that I've no clue if this will keep the bugs away.   I've not had any bug issues in my stash but I don't want any!  We have spiders but I don't think they care too much about starch.  

My Spray Starch Concoction
2 cups Water
2 TB Cornstarch 
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1 tsp OdoBan

  Combine in a cup or bowl the Cornstarch and about 1/4 cup Water.  With a fork quickly beat/stir/whisk.  This can now be added to a hot or cold liquid stirring constantly after adding to either.   One thing to remember, until cornstarch is cooked it will settle to the bottom of the liquid in just a few seconds.  So add the mixture to the sauce pan immediately after making it, continually stirring over Medium heat.  It's just like making pudding or gravy.

Because I make gravy often I know this is going to be gravy due to the water to cornstarch ratio.    After it's cooked I can thin it out with more water.

Bring it up to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  I added 1 1/2 cups more water, vinegar and OdaBan.  Vinegar is used often in canning as a preservative, it also repels bugs.  I probably should have added more.  The Odoban is a powerful odor eliminating chemical.  The smell can be overwhelming if too much is used.  My hopes is bugs find it yukky also.  All the recipes I found said essential oils could be added for fragrance.  There's several oils that are bug deterrents.  But my thought is oil and water don't mix.  The OdaBan is made with Eucalyptus which is a BUG DETERRENT! 

My little concoction was to warm to add the spray nozzle.  So I put it in the freezer to cool it off faster.  Don't look at my freezer too close, it's in need of a good cleaning.  The spray bottle I'm using was purchased at WalMart in mops and brooms isle.  They cost about $3.  The wide mouth makes it easy to refill.  The bottle itself is heavier than most others, and it has a nice spray.  It says it can spray in any direction but I've not found a reason to spray upside down, have you?

While the spray starch was cooling  I finished pressing Round 2 fabrics in record time.  Now I'm ready to test my first batch of Homemade Starch.  It's so exciting to try something new!  

Let me tell you...... it's as stiff as a board.  A little too stiff.  Look at the fabric standing up on its own!  Crispy!   I poured some of it into another spray bottle and watered it down.  You know what? This was so easy and so cheap to make, it might become my favorite starch.

I had just enough starch for Round 3. 

It's all press and neatly stacked until tomorrow when I'll starting cutting for the On Podunk Pond quilt....AKA On Ringo Lake by Bonnie Hunter.

What's your favorite pressing spray?  Have you ever made spray starch?  

#onringolakequilt #quiltvillemysteryquilt #homemadespraystarch #podunkpretties

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  1. I've never made my own starch, but may have to give a shot. Did you find the OdoBan at the grocery store or at a hardware store? That is a new product to me! Happy Sewing!

    1. You can get OdoBan online but I found it cheaper at Home Depot.

  2. I hope you will do a follow up down the road on if it repelled bugs. I have tried the homemade version of Best Press-not impressed either, no stiffness.

  3. I think liquid starch is used to make "slime" which seems to be popular these days. Amazon has the StaFlow with several options for size and shipping.

  4. I may have yo make that but where did you find odoban?

  5. Interesting read about the spray starch. I know lots of people like Mary Ellen's spray starch but I sneeze every time I tried to use it so gave up. I use Niagara spray starch but have just purchased Faultless no flake but have not tried it. I remember my mother making starch back in the days of wringer washers and hanging clothes on the line. I never made any myself.

  6. Did you add more water to the mixture? It looks pretty thick in the pan and I wonder how that would work in the sprayer. Also, did one batch make enough starch to spray all that fabric? I took a class where the teacher told us to starch all the fabric before cutting. I used so many cans of starch because the fabric was suppose to be stiff as paper.

  7. I will be on standby on the outcome of your home made solution..meantime I use Niagra spray starch and just bought me a new Rowenta (Made in Germany) iron last week and hope this will help my pressing. I have never thought of using the starch in the blue bottle's frustrating when we have to improvise and out of our comfort zone. :)

  8. I've never made starch, but this sounds pretty doable. Let us know if it repels the bugs!

  9. Sta-Flo is always around here but I've never used it as a spray. I mix it, add the fabric, dry it, sprinkle it, and then iron. I know, lots of work but it's the way I learned to do it. Tell me, how do you make Sta-Flo SPRAY starch? I really want to know. I like snow, too, and we've been getting rain - What! December in Iowa is supposed to be snowy. :(

  10. I was looking at your youtube channel to see if you had a video of your starching method...from there I came to here and did a search and found this. Did you continue to make your own starch or did you go back to Sta-flo when it was available. Inquiring minds want to know. Also, your starching method might make a good youtube video.


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