Starch

20090901-starch

Sometime I hear people trade stories about the size of their ironing pile, about the enormity of their backlog.  I keep pretty quiet, and I must admit, slightly mystified. I have never really been an ironer.  My iron sees a lot of action – but about 95% of that is for sewing.

20090901-washing

All our washing is line dried, (or occasionally dried on airing racks inside) – business shirts and the like are hung straight onto hangers to dry, and Mr Matching Pegs irons his own shirts when he needs to wear them (about twice a week – he is a designer, and does not wear business shirts every day).

For this reason, starch has always been a historical item to me – something I knew people used to use, to stiffen a collar, or a special linen tablecloth.  I had never used it myself.  I don’t even know if there are people out there of my generation that use it (are there?).

20090901-ohiostar

After having trouble ironing under the 1/4 inch seam allowance of my little Ohio Star, (so that I could sew it on the back of my quilt) I decided to give some starch a go.  It made ironing a crisp, thin edge a piece of cake.

20090901-stringblock

Now I have started using it on the remaining “New House” string quilt blocks.  It really helps the ironed fabric sit flat against the paper, ready for the next piece to be added.  I am hoping that it also helps to hold the block stable once the paper has been pulled off the back.

20090901-stringblocks1

Here are some more recent blocks – making them is really quite relaxing.  I think I will run out of the green for the middle, before I run out of cut strips, my pile does not seem to be diminishing.

While I was musing on starch, I wondered what people had made it out of in the “olden days”.  My guess was potato (the starchiest thing I know of) but I knew the Internet would have an answer for making some at home.  It seems it can be made using corn flour (corn starch in US speak).  I assume that it can be made of other things – I am sure it would not have been made from corn in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries to stiffen neck ruffs! Make your own starch recipe found here.

20090901-stringblocks2

Just one word of warning about starch – apparently the bugs love to eat it.  Only use starch on things that are going to be washed in the not too distant future.

So tell me, do you use starch for anything?

3 thoughts on “Starch

  1. I had to laugh when I saw the first picture on this post. I have that exact iron and I love to use my Crisp brand starch!! I love the smell, I love the result. Love, love, love starch. I use starch to put a nice, finished look to the kids aprons and bags I make. Funny, I\’m like you. I don\’t iron anything BUT my sewing!!

  2. My husband wonders why I have an iron. I tell him I need it for my patchwork! I do iron the really good clothes when we go out. But why iron them when they are washed when you only have to iron them again when you get them out of the wardrobe because they are crushed?

  3. Interesting to see how others feel.

    I quite like my iron and use it mostly for sewing.

    Ironing is my least hated housework task. I LOVE starched bedlinen – it’s my fantasy come true every night, (he who must not be mentioned says neurosis.) Starched and ironed pillow cases, sheets and doona covers make going to bed a sensual experience, worth every bit of the trouble. It feels like a six star hotel!

    The linen keeps the right feel for about 10 days, so it is not too frequent a job.

    It is becoming extremely difficult to find starch, so I would appreciate if anyone knows where to buy the old fashioned type.

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