To Starch or Not to Starch?

Elizabeth Chappell

I like to think there are two types of quilters: 1. Those who spray their fabric, and 2. Those who don't. Are you type 1 or  type 2?

I want to share which type of quilter I am and why.  And maybe, along the way, you might jump ship and join me!  Or not. There's no "right way" to quilt, after all!

I'll stop the suspense.  I am a type 1. I spray my fabric!  I haven't always, but that's WHY I'm a fabric sprayer.  I have seen the difference.  When you get your quilt back from a long arm friend, and they tell you, "You should try starch spray.  It will really help your points match up and your fabric to lay flat,"  you know you have a problem.  AND you know you have a good friend who is willing to help you out even if it's a little uncomfortable.  It's like the friend who tells you that you have something in your teeth.  While humbling, you are in reality grateful.

And so it was with the starch spray.  I decided to try a science experiment of sorts. I tested which spray I liked the best, and just how different they were compared to NO spray at all. 

The products I used were: Faultless, Flatter, Best Press, and no spray at all. 

When I used the Faultless spray, I tried two different methods.  For the first, I sprayed my fabric all over, and tossed the fabric in the dryer on the highest heat for 5 minutes.  Then I sprayed the fabric again and ironed it.  This made my fabric feel like a sheet of card stock.  I LOVED it!

The second method using Faultless spray was to lay my fabric on the ironing board, spray it with Faultless, and iron.  This was good, but nowhere NEAR as crispy as putting the fabric in the dryer first.  I love the crispy fabric because my sewn lines and cutting tend to be more accurate, but I realize some prefer their fabric less crispy.  

Because that level of crispiness might not be for everyone, there are other great options.  Namely, Best Press and Flatter.  While my fabric in NO WAY felt as crisp and flat as with Faultless, it was very smooth and wrinkle free.  I couldn't tell much of a difference between the Flatter and Best Press.  Best Press was a TOUCH stiffer, but they were overall very similar.  *For the record, Best Press has starch in it, while Flatter is a starch free spray.

Lastly, I had the fabric that I simply ironed.  I added no spray to it.  Ironing is a game changer, and much better than doing nothing at all to your fabric.  But let me tell you, as one who has made many quilts with my points off, if you are open to that extra little step of spraying your fabric before you iron it, you will totally notice a difference in your quilting!  And if you're like me, you will take all the help you can get when it comes to making those points a little more accurate.

I'm curious if you are a type 1 sprayer, or a type 2 non-fabric sprayer?  Do you have a favorite product if you are a type 1?  I would love to hear about it!  Who knows, maybe I'll have a 2nd science experiment down the road with your suggestions!  ;-)




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  • I really do like the result of starching my fabric, but has anybody else notice an odor on the ironing board, AFTER pressing starched fabric using Faultless? It smells terrific when you spray it AND when you iron it, but later – i guess its the residue left on the ironing board – to me it smelss like stinky gym socks… pretty excited about the vodka recipe! I’m going to try that!!

    Julie Spear

  • Thanks for the tip on the gold cap faultless… It helps so much and smells so great…and it’s not expensive!


  • I have been using vodka starch….I make it in a Spray bottle. I get the cheapest Vodka and mix 1part Vodka to 2 parts water. I’m very sensitive to fragrance so this is a game changer for me. I also learned that spraying Vodka eliminates odors 😉


  • I would like to spray but with allergies I have doubts. :( I have spray envy. lol


  • I have sprayed and not sprayed depending on what I’m creating. Recently I took a quilt to a local longarm quilter and she immediately asked me if I washed my fabric prior to sewing. I told her some fabric’s I prewash and others I don’t. She said she prefers to quilt quilts where the fabric has not been washed. When I asked her why, she said that it makes the quilt easier to quilt and it reduces wrinkles. I have never heard this before, but I assume if you do wash your fabric first and then use starch as you piece it would be the same result for the machine quilter? Now after reading your blog post I’m going to pick up some gold cap faultless and see if I like that better.


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