New Orleans House Project

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pressing & Slicing: the Relaxation Factor

I spent a happy few hours last night relaxing with my iron and rotary cutter.

Sometimes, after working all day and attending to Household Chores That Must Be Done, I convince myself I'm too tired to fondle fabric.  That road just leads to frustration and stress, so I try very hard to avoid that mindset.  Usually with just a little mental urging, I find myself petting fabric in one way or another.

So it was last night.  I wandered into my sewing room, knowing I really needed to start cutting fabric for the current baby gift quilt.  I realized the quilt fabric needed serious pressing before cutting could commence and that motivated me, because I love ironing!  In fact, I really love ironing fabric now because I recently discovered my new favorite quilting tool:  Faultless Maxx Starch!
Living in South Louisiana, I was always resistant to starching my quilting fabric.  I was afraid if I starched and put the fabric away, it would attract bugs. We have plenty of those - no need to set out a welcome mat for them!  A recent venture into hand applique got me using Mary Ellen's Best Press as a means to prepare applique pieces for stitching.  That foray into starching quilt fabrics was a success, and the fear of starch began to recede.  A blog entry from a few weeks back (forgive me, I don't remember whose blog!) recommended the Maxx starch because it was inexpensive and had a non-aerosol sprayer.  Lo and behold, I spied the very thing on my next trip to the grocery store for the amazing price of $1.99!  Amazingly accessible (no trip to the quilt store required), no aerosol propellant to harm the ozone and cheaper than that other fancy starch!

My current method is to only starch the fabric before cutting - no starching and storing.  I apply a generous spray of starch to the area to be pressed, then use a dry iron to smooth away wrinkles and activate the stiffening properties of the starch.  I find the stiffer the fabric (and Maxx can make the fabric almost board-like), the smoother and more accurate the cutting.  I do not recommend using additional starch once the fabric is cut, as moisture of any kind tends to distort the fabric.

I proceeded to cut the ever-popular 2.5 inch strips from my Deep, Deep Sea fabric.  Of course, it would've been quicker to purchase a package of pre-cut strips for this quilt - but where's the fun in that?  There's just something elementally satisfying about fondling larger pieces of fabric and prepping them for slicing and dicing.  Even the repetitive motions of rotary cutting have a soothing rhythm - unless you're using a dull cutting blade!  

In just a short time, I had an interlude of relaxation therapy AND a stack of 2.5 inch cut strips for the baby quilt.  

Just wondering - how do you feel about using starch on quilting fabrics?  Starch-aholic or starch-aphobic?