Using Liquid Starch for T-Shirt Quilts

{I originally wrote this post on March 19, the day before my dad passed away. I have not been on here much, as his loss has been a lot for me to bear. Please stay with me as I try to get back into the swing of things.}

In my last post I mentioned that I was now using liquid starch to stabilize my tees prior to cutting and sewing them. It is essential in t-shirt quilting to stabilize the shirts. If they are not stabilized, they WILL stretch and pucker during sewing and quilting. However, the desire for a soft, tee shirt-like quilt is the entire reason for making one! Iron on interfacing leaves the shirts a little stiff. It’s not unpleasant or hard to the touch, just a little stiffer. Liquid starch will wash right out of the quilt once it’s done. So if you want uber-softness AND stability, liquid starch is the way to go! Another bummer when it comes to iron-on is that it can get quite expensive when considering it sometimes takes 10 or more yards at $2.49/yd to complete one quilt. If the expense isn’t enough, there is the time it takes to iron the tees, then iron the stabilizer onto the tees. And you can’t just iron it on, you have to use a press cloth and spend about 10 seconds in small section – sometimes over a minute just moving it around, pressing, moving it, pressing – you get the picture. It takes a lot of time!

Here comes the solution with liquid starch. I was a bit skeptical at first as to whether starch would make the tees stiff enough to work with. But it does. So where to get the starch? Of course, you can always go out and buy Sta-Flo or some other bottled liquid starch from the store. But what fun would that be? We’re cutting costs here. And time. With a bit of Googling I came across some really great recipes for homemade starch. Pinky Has a Brain is by far my favorite. With a little tweaking I found what I was happy with.

Her recipe calls for 1 T corn starch and 4 cups of water. However, I needed it just a little bit stiffer, so I double the starch. I also needed much more than 4 cups. One full size quilt with 30 tees takes about 48 cups of solution. To quadruple a batch I use 8 T corn starch and 16 cups of water. 15 of them boiling, the rest to mix with the starch.

I cut the tees, place them in the cooled starch solution one by one, squeeze out the starch and lay them flat to dry. I improvised a drying rack to accommodate a large amount of tees. It takes about 1 day for them to dry like this, but I can be finishing up one quilt while the new tees are drying, so it works out! I then take the tees, iron them flat, using a little extra steam if necessary, cut them to size, and voila! I have beautiful even squares that are easy to work with! It’s best if you can get your tees to lay really flat so there isn’t much ironing to do later on. I’ve also tried them in the dryer, but I didn’t really like the results. They were still a little too stretchy for me.

 Here are two quilts I’ve completed using this method. I wish you could feel how soft they are. It’s really just like snuggling up with your favorite tee shirt. I’ve been using cotton batting and usually use flannel for the backing to compliment the tees, unless cotton is requested.

This is actually a double-sided full size quilt made using the same process. The starch stabilizer allows for freedom in free motion quilting, makes the tees more stable and taut so there is no bunching, and in the end they wash up so beautifully.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: