Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To STARCH... or not? A quilter's dilemma

My basic philosophy of life is... Don't try to fix what isn't broken... Do no harm... Have compassion for others... and don't starch your fabric.

Although I have read many articles on the joys of spraying liquid starch on fabric and ironing the daylights out of it so when quilting you get perfectly matched seams... I have resisted the urge, allowing my quilts to have that 'au naturale' look and feeling. I am an organic  seamstress and could care less if my seams match up or not. Well... at least in quilting. My original plan is to have every seam meet up perfectly with its adjoining seam... but if it doesn't end up that way... even though I have tried my best... I don't sweat it. I just figure the fabric had a mind of its own and did whatever the universe told it to.

My mom always taught me when sewing a garment, you should be able to wear the item inside-out and have it look just as nice. Meaning... use the correct interfacing, finish off all of your seams, have no threads hanging, and be proud of your work. I have always followed that rule... when sewing clothing. However, quilts are supposed to be soft and cuddly... in my opinion. Who wants to wrap up in a stiff blanket on a chilly night?

Well... it's a new age... and MODERN QUILTING is taking the quilt world by storm! Bold, clear, colors surrounded by lots of grays and white in simplistic designs with geometric sewing lines are all the rage. In order to get the 'crisp as a green apple' look... the old fashioned spray starch is back on the ironing boards of quilters around the world. Today I have joined the fray.

Working on yet another 'donation quilt'... I decided to work with only solid color fabrics. I chose some clear, bright cottons, and added a gray and a white for balance. I love the way it looks!!!

Pressing the sewn blocks, and then cutting them into strips left them a little too limp to sew together precisely. Remembering the articles about spray starch, I hunted my old can down. I knew I had it somewhere... but where? Ah... hiding in the way back of the laundry closet. I plucked it from the shelf... shook it up... and sprayed away.

ICK!! It came out in a solid stream. Oh brother, that's not good. I twisted the little top off, poked around the opening with a needle for a while, ran it under a stream of warm water, and tried again. Eh... not perfect, but certainly better. I had forgotten how much I loved the smell of starch. All the candle companies try to duplicate the scent and call it Clean Cotton. Snnniiiffff.... Ah!

So... happily I spray each piece and iron the fabric block into submission. My seams are perfect, the quilt smells nice and it is crisp as a spring morning. YIKES! My wood floors are covered in the over spray and are as slick as an ice skating rink. NOW I remember why starching wasn't a favorite habit of mine. Once I'm finished starching, I have to throw the ironing board cover into the wash... and scrub the floor clean. It's beginning to be another version of The Cat in the Hat... with the pink stuff getting every where.

Oh well... the quilt looks FABULOUS... and wasn't that the goal all along?

Currently I have two quilts on my machines. One is due on Friday... and is right on track. The other was due months ago. Thinking I was smart and choosing a design using scrappy fabrics... it ended up being a nightmare! Taking so much longer than I planned to pull out the fabrics and cut them all to the proper size. What was I thinking???  To stay on track I have had to put that project aside time and time again as I kept all the others on schedule. Sigh.

As is true with all things... it will all get done in good time.

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