Without fail, every time a family member offers to help me tidy up my studio, they stumble upon my bottle of quilting vodka. They usually just give a look and ask, "Is quilting really this hard?" And then I have to explain that yes, sometimes quilting is that hard! But really that's the bottle of vodka I use to make my homemade starch.
For most of my quilting career, I had never used starch when ironing my quilting fabric. That all changed when I was working on a Double Wedding Ring quilt I planed to give my sister for her wedding. I had cut everything out and pieced my arcs together. And even though I'd been so carful when cutting and had triple-checked my seam allowances, the arcs were too big for the centers! How did this happen!? How was I going to fix it!?
I popped into the quilt shop around the corner and asked the employees if anyone had ever made a Double Wedding Ring before and could help me. Thankfully, one of the ladies had and was so kind as she helped me work through the problem. The very first thing she asked me was, "Did you starch your fabric before you cut it?" To which I muttered a small, "no" while looking at my feet like a scolded child. She gave a little laugh, broke out the shop's starch and ironing board and gave it a good press and suddenly the pieces lined up!
Since then, starch has become a staple in my ironing and quilting routine. For a while I used the aerosol can that you find in the laundry aisle, which worked pretty well. But I knew that was terrible for the environment so I made the switch to Best Press, which comes in a spray bottle. This worked great as well, but had a much higher price tag. So I began looking for alternate options.
That's when I found out that you can MAKE YOUR OWN STARCH for practically nothing! I gave a few different recipes a try and modified it until I liked the way it worked and have been using that ever since.
Homemade Starch is SO incredibly easy to make and SO much more cost effective than other options. Also you're not putting plastic bottle after plastic bottle into our landfills or emitting any gases that are harmful to our environment. It's a win, win, win!
So here's what you'll need to make yourself some homemade starch:
1. Spray Bottle - I got mine at target for a few dollars and it's big enough that I don't have to constantly be making more, but small enough that it's still easy to handle.
2. Vodka - I've tried both cheap and expensive brands and it doesn't seem to make a difference.
3. Water - Just regular-ol' water.
4. Essential Oils - This is an optional ingredient if you want your starch to have a nice smell. Just be sure they don't contain any dye! (Peppermint and Lavender are my favorites to use.)
Open your spray bottle and add two-parts water and one-part vodka. I use 1-1/2 cups of water and 3/4 cup of vodka for the spray bottle size I have. Add in 5-10 drops of any essential oils you want. Screw the lid/sprayer on tight and give it a good shake. That's it!
You've now made your own homemade starch and are ready to get back to ironing!
I haven't done the exact math on how much a bottle of this costs to make, but I know that I can get a 1 liter bottle of vodka for about $11 and that's enough to make 6 bottles of starch. That's the same price I'd pay for one bottle of Best Press at the big box craft stores. Six for the price of one sounds like a good deal to me! And I can't stress this enough, I'm not adding any plastic to the landfills when I make a new batch!
Give this method a try because worst case scenario, you'll have a bottle of vodka in your sewing room for those times when quilting really is that hard!