Open Line Friday–A Pressing Question

Using Starch, Sizing, Best Press in Quilting

Good morning, Quilters!  We have many, many new quilters that have joined us from Facebook and The Quilting Board!  Welcome to you all!  We are so glad you’ve joined us, and we plan to put you to work right away.  Today is Open Line Friday.  Every Friday, we all ask and answer questions about anything and everything.  (I’ve even gotten some excellent advice on mascaras!)  So ask away.  We also want YOUR input on the questions…Today, I would like everyone’s opinion on pressing…

Using Starch, Sizing, Best Press in Quilting

I use spray starch, sizing and Best Press. Honestly, I don’t have a very strong favorite.  I like Niagara Spray Starch because it costs only $1.69 for 20 oz, it is readily available at my grocery store, and I like the scent.  The only downside, one must wait a minute or so to let the starch absorb into the fabric before ironing in order to prevent flaking.  I have read that silverfish like starch-but I have never had any problem with that little pest-and I don’t know anyone who has…

Using Starch, Sizing, Best Press in Quilting

I also like Magic Sizing.  It is also inexpensive-around $2.00 for 20 oz, is readily available, and I like the scent.  The label says it “restores the original body to all washable fabrics”.  I like how it improves the body of the fabric without stiffness–(less stiff than starch.)

Using Starch, Sizing, Best Press in Quilting

Finally, I sometimes use Mary Ellen’s Best Press.  It comes in both scented and odorless--I generally like the linen fresh scent.  It also adds body without stiffness and it never flakes.  The downside to Best Press–it is only available at fabric stores and online and it costs a whopping $7.95 for 16 oz.  That’s 5 times the prices of sizing and starch!

So to kick off today’s Open Line Friday…What products do you use, and why?


PS..Thank you to all the people who sent links for the handwriting fabrics for which I am on the hunt.  Never thought to look on Ebay or Etsy!  Thanks!

52 thoughts on “Open Line Friday–A Pressing Question

  1. Hi Lori
    I am new to your site, my friend Laura told me about your great site. Laura is teaching me to machine quilt. I use Magic Sizing-I use it for applique. I use the Mary Kay Buckley method. Spray the liquid in the cap, use a small paint brush to paint sizing on the 1/4 seam allowance and iron it around your template. It works great.

    In order to press my quilt blocks I use lots of steam. While attending a workshop, someone had the formula for Best Press. I have it somewhere. Maybe one of your readers know the formula it involves vodka and

    • Hey Debbie!
      Debbie, our friend Mary and I learned another tip at a workshop to help pieced blocks lay flat after pressing. Place a weight on the freshly pressed block for a few moments. The seams are then much less bulky. I use steam when pressing finished blocks and I like to use Best Press for the final press before quilting the top.

    • I have used Magic Sizing in the past, but now I use Best Press exclusively. I got sick of the spray starch nozzle being clogged every time I wanted to use. I have tried making my own Best Press, but found it to be nothing more than sticky mess. I will stay with the Best Press even though it is quite expensive.

    • Debbie, I am so glad you are here! I didn’t know about the vodka and water and I just googled the recipe. It seems that vodka has starch in it (think potatoes) and works quite well for ironing. Some sites say you can use the vodka straight! I can’t wait to give it a try! Thanks for chiming in!

  2. You can google for the recipe for generic or home made Best Press. My sewing group has made it and it is very easy and just as good as the stuff you buy. You can get the essential oils at WalMart in a lot of great scents, or you don’t have to scent it if you don’t want to.

  3. My local quilt shop carries Best Press and I love it. Up till I tried it, I had never starched fabrics but it does help when piecing the fiddly bits.

    I get the unscented because I have allergy issues with scented products.

  4. I started out using Magic Sizing and love it. (still reminds me of my 1st quilt and the friend I took the class with). Now I do Best Press. Love the lavender scent! It is expensive. I like to wait till the quilt store does a 20% off everything and buy a gallon!

  5. Hi, I am new here. Enjoying this so much.
    I used spray starch. Whatever I picked up. Then, at a retreat, I was introduced to Best Press. Liked it right off. But, living on Social Security, it takes a chunk of my quilting budget though. I got the large size last time. It over sprays to the point that my ironing board cover is just a mess. When I iron anyythingit now sticks to the cover. Threads stick to it. What a mess. I will go back to spray starch. 1. the price of Best Press is so unnecessaryy. 2. Spray starch works just as well. And is less messy.

  6. I love Best Press! I am trying to ramp up my quilting, so I might investigate the homemade recipe. I have tried the Cherry Blossom. Lavendar..and some thing else (i was given the last one as a gift in the smallest bottle, so I didn’t choose that one) I usually just use it in the long arm room. I load my backing (not the REALLY wrinkled ones..just the ‘got a few creases in transit’ ones), spray lightly all over the visible backing and then tighten it JUST a notch. Off I go to do something else for a few mins and when I come back’ VOILA! Nice flat ‘looks like I pressed it, but I didn’t’ backing. If you try this, be sure not to over tighten or you can stretch out that backing. Then I roll it along to the next area until the whole backing is finished. I like that when I am finished,the quilt has a nice soft scent and nothing that hits you at the door. I also have bottle of regular old fashioned starch. I will be mixing that up for a trial run for hand applique prepping. Jury is out on that one yet…

    • What a great tip! I once used Best Press on a tablecloth. I put the tablecloth on my table, sprayed it lightly with Best Press and waited a few hours before setting the table. It worked quite well!

  7. I used Best Press, but the cost is unjustified considering the fact that it is 98% water!
    Now I use ‘the recipe’ and make my own. I use it with my regular ironing (yes, I DO iron clothes!) as well as with fabric. I also switched out my pad on my ironing board. That made a BIG difference. You’ll find “Insul-Bright” in the batting area – you cut it to suit your pressing board needs. Thank you.

  8. I use Best Press, but stretch my dollar by buying it by the gallon and diluting it half and half with water when I put it in the spray bottle. I think it works just as well diluted!

  9. I use Magic Sizing on almost everything. I also use Best Press. It depends on the project. If I’m making something for a store sample, I’ll test to see which one will give me the best results. I don’t use regular spray starch because of the clogging and I accidentally sprayed some on a floor and (let’s just say that no one was hurt in the incident, but the kids wanted to do the entire kitchen floor.) Perfect for sliding.

  10. I had ordered a gallon of Best Press from my local quilt shop, and when it arrived (along with the price tag), dh had a fit (he’s a retired organic chemist) — told me that starch is one of the easiest things to make. So when I run out of it, I will try making my own from the recipes on my sewing groups web page.

  11. I love to starch my fabric before cutting into it. It gives more stability to my fabric and helps in accuracy throughout the quilting process. I’ll use any starch that’s available, but Best Press is my favorite. I buy the gallon size; your local quilt shop can usually order it for you. Also, I keep a piece of muslin over my ironing board and wash it when it get’s too stiff!

  12. I generally use Niagara in the non-aerosol bottle if I want something sharply creased or really flat. I don’t have a problem with flaking or with silverfish. I’ve been gifted Best Press and it works, but no way am I paying that price. I’ve made my own linen water (did so long before it was bottled as Best Press) and that works great too.

  13. I LOVE starched fabric. I think I get more accurate cutting and sewing with starched versus unstarched.
    My go-to starch is Faultless Heavy Starch. I can get it for about $1.00 at Walmart in MI.
    My method is to press the fabric to get it warm (I read that starch saturates more easily into warm fabric). I then spray one side of the fabric, maybe let it soak in a minute or so, and then flip it over before I press. (The theory is that by having the starched side down, the starch is getting into the fibers rather than laying on top.) After pressing that side, I spray that side, flip and press. I still get occasional flakes, but not many.
    It may be weird, but I find pressing to be very relaxing!

    • I have several family members who find ironing very pleasant–I just thought they were weird! Great idea to iron the fabric first to increase absorption! Thanks for your tips!

  14. I’m also new to your site and am enjoying it! I find pressing to be relaxing and notice many quilter don’t really know how to “press” their blocks properly. I use all of the products mentioned. When I purchase the Best Press, I water it down to stretch it out, and get it when there’s a 50% off sale. Thanks for reaching out to us in this manner.

  15. I use Best Press Lavender scent! I buy a gallon online with a Joanns 40% off! As much as I iron and sew, i figure i may as well emjoy the process!

  16. I recently started making my own starch- and I like it as much as any I have ever used! It is working beautifully, smells perfect because I added the scent I like, and makes Niagra look expensive as it literally costs a few cents to make per bottle! I use an old Niagra spray bottle and fill it with distilled water and a mixture of 1 tbsp of corn starch and 1 tbsp of cold water mixed into a slurry- then about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I like to add lemon and lavender) and you are set- I just give the bottle a good shake and use it just like I’ve used Niagra in the past- once it has absorbed a bit, iron and you are ready to go!

  17. I use Starch when I need to. usually I just mist with water.

    When I do use starch, I mix it up from the same stuff I cook with (Corn Starch…in the box…I think I’ve had that box at least 10 years and the level never seems to go down..maybe it’s a magic box!) I got a recipe out of one of Diane Gaudynski’s books, but I make it much more diluted than her recipe. I like the fact that it has no smell.

    I recently tried a weak vinegar solution, (which is what costumers use to set pleats), but I didn’t like it. The smell (which, since it’s diluted, isn’t strong anyway) goes away after a minute or two, but I’m concerned about the residual effect that acid from the vinegar has on the fiber.

    When I took a basic machine quilting class with Harriet Hargrave, she swore by Faultess Starch, but I never used it. The plus side of using the Faultess (as opposed to mixing you’re own, is that it doesn’t go bad as fast. When you mix your own, you don’t have any preservatives (which is great if you have allergies), but it doesn’t really last more than 5-6 days….though maye if you refrigerate it you could get it to last longer.

    What you need is a really great spray bottle. I got one that’s actually meant for hairdressers and has a wonderful wide mist.

  18. I love best press, magic sizing and faultless. They all work great on the right project. I read or saw on a Sharon Schamber video to spray the starch one side and flip over to iron. No flakes and it really gets into the fibers. I like heavy starch for projects with small pieces or items that might stretch. I also heavily spray the inside of my binding as I fold it closed, it then sticks to itself and there is no shifting when I sew it on. I made my own starch with a spray bottle, cornstarch and water. It worked fine but it smelled yucky when I went use it this week….realized it went bad, made a new batch. I’m going to try the vodka recipe, thanks for the tip!!

  19. Hi, Lori!
    I love your site. One way to make Best Press a little more affordable is to buy it at JoAnn’s with a coupon. I buy it by the gallon on-line, and then have it shipped. I try to buy it when they have a free shipping offer.

  20. A little off subject. I wanted to thank everyone for responding to my request for their favorite quilting book. So helpful!

  21. This is great. I never realized how important pressing and cutting accuracy are! I plan to try the vodka idea.

  22. Lori,

    Great question. I know a lot of new quilters are using Best Press and like it. I refuse to pay the price. I have used spray starch for years, although I don’t use it in my quilting all that much, just pressing clothes. Likely, we have a generation gap between those who press clothes and those who never have or disliked using aerosol spray starch. Therefore, Best Press was a hit for many quilters.

    Sometime last year, I decided to do a fabric test using a variety of starch recipes. I used corn starch, Argo starch, Sta-flo liquid starch, canned spray starch (Niagara brand), and vodka. I did not purchase the Best Press, but have seen how it works. My goal was to find the product that produced the best results, was easy to use, and had a low price point.

    I still prefer spray starch, and the Sta-flo brand of liquid starch is a good alternative to buying the aerosol cans. I also don’t have as much trouble with flaking using the liquid starch. You just dilute it with water to produce the results that you like. The vodka recipe is okay, but I did not feel that it provided enough body and easily re-wrinkled. I purchased a cheap vodka, so that may have something to do with it – less starch? Maybe someone can answer that question.

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  24. I use Best Press but for some reason, I forget to use it! I buy it wholesale from a distributor because I own a business. Not quilting but decorating. ONe thing about pressing, I never use steam. I have an iron that I got from Vermont Country Store that does not have holes it. The faceplate is smooth and it stays nice and hot!

  25. I like to take a spray bottle, old fashioned liquid starch and water. Mix it up to whatever strength you like and it works great!! Cheap too! I learned this tip from a quilting class and we all thought it was a terrific and economical idea. I keep some Best Press around just for the Lavender scent but go back to my liquid starch. Another tip was to use spray starch in place of stabilizers when piecing such as in making a Herringbone tablerunner. I sprayed each strip and it made everything fit nicely with nice crisp edges.
    Gmama Jane

  26. I started out with spray starch. But so many times, I find that the can is full and the aerosol is gone and it won’t come out. The can is not clogged, it’s just not pressurized and won’t spray. I like the best press, but it’s far too expensive for me. I buy liquid starch and mix my own. (a half gallon of liquid starch lasts a long lont time) Diane Gaudynski has a recipe using corn starch that I plan to try when I run out of my current liquid.

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