Many quilters like to use fabric starch when making quilts. Using starch has several advantages like helping to remove wrinkles and keeping the fabric cleaner. Additionally, two other advantages of using starch in quilting are more accurate cutting and piecing. Some quilters prefer starch alternatives for various reasons. For these quilters, starch can make the fabric too stiff or they may not like the ingredients in starch. In this article I will review two starch alternatives. For more information about using starch in quilting see the article, Using Fabric Starch in Quilting.
Two Starch Alternatives
The Bucko Ironing Spray is manufactured by The Bucko Company. They make cleaning products, spray bottles and products for the kitchen and home. The ironing spray is available in fragrance free only.
I purchased directly from the company website. The the 32 oz bottle was $14.99 with free shipping. That's 47 cents per ounce. You can purchase a one gallon refill for $25.99 with free shipping.
Mary Ellen's Best Press is distributed by Mary Ellen Products. They have a full line of cleaning products. Best Press is available in unscented and several scents.
A friend gave me this bottle of Linen Fresh scent. The company website lists this product for $7.95 plus shipping. The website has a shipping calculator and shipping to Houston added $7.40 making the cost per ounce 91 cents. There is free shipping if you spend $50 or more. Refills are available in two sizes: 33.8 oz for $14.95 plus shipping and one gallon for $41.70 plus shipping.
The Testing Process
Now, to test out these starch alternatives I cut two identical quilt kits for paper piecing. For the first kit I used The Bucko Ironing Spray. I used Best Press for the second kit. The fabrics were not pre-washed. I used the product each time I pressed. Here are the steps I took for each:
- 5-1/2 yards of light fabric. I cut this fabric into 28″ sections.
- I pressed out the wrinkles and folded each section into 4 layers for cutting into 14″ strips.
- Next I opened each strip and stacked 7 of them with right sides up. Each time I stacked a strip, I pressed it on top of the stack.
- Finally, the stack was cut into 3 large squares and sub-cut to the pieces I needed.
- I repeated steps 1-4 with 6 yards of dark fabric and different size cuts.
Compare the Qualities
Wrinkles – First, each product did a great job of getting the wrinkles out. I was pressing batiks. Because it can sometimes be difficult to remove the center crease from batiks, I had to give the crease a little more spray of each product.
Body/Stiffness – The next thing I noticed was how much body the fabric had after using each product. It added just the right amount of stiffness to make cutting a breeze. Also, I noticed that by pressing each strip onto the stack, the fabric didn't shift as I cut. Having the layers of fabric all nice and flat made it easy for me to make accurate cuts.
Spraying – The first difference I noticed in the two products was the spray. The Bucko had more of a droplet, directional spray. I did notice a few drops coming from the spray, however these drops were not large and did not cause a problem. In contrast, Best Press had a little more misty type of spray with smaller droplets. As far as using each spray, there wasn't much difference. Additionally, each spray evenly covered a large area of fabric.
Scent – Since my sense of smell is very strong, I usually I use the unscented option for every product I buy. Because the Best Press was a gift, I didn't have that option. Unfortunately for this review, I can't compare the scent qualities of each product.
Beginning with The Bucko, there was no smell at all. I didn't notice any of the product going into my face or breathing into my nose. Just how I like it. On the other hand, Best Press caused me problems from the beginning. Each time I sprayed it, the smell lingered and it annoyed me. I'm not sure if the annoyance was caused by the scent or the type of spray pattern. I would say that if you have a sensitive nose, choose the unscented Best Press.
When I compare product quality, I could see no difference. Both products performed well. They got the wrinkles out and they added a little stiffness to the fabric for cutting. However, if you compare cost, the clear winner is The Bucko Ironing Spray.