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Using starch with fusible web

by Sue

I am beginning a Baltimore Album Quilt. I am going to do the quilt with fusible web and machine applique the pieces. My question is on the use of starch with fusible. Should I starch the background fabric and then apply the fusible?


I would think that the fusible web, itself, would lend enough stability to the fabric for you to do a nice machine applique along the edge of the shape. Most of the machine stitching will be on the shape and not the background so the majority of the stitch is stabilized.

To be sure, do a small test sample with the same threads and stitches you will use in the final blocks. It'll be a good place to make all your tension adjustments, too.

If you need further stabilization, I suggest using a tearaway stabilizer behind the block instead of starching--You can use more than one layer if you need to. This tearaway will look and feel like paper and be easy to remove without distorting your stitches.

So why not just starch it?

If you starch the background fabric and then apply the fusible, there's a good chance the starch will interfere with the ability of the fused shape to 'stick' to the background fabric.

In fact, any finish on your fabric may interfere with the 'stick' of the fusible web...I recommend prewashing all the fabrics that will be fused to remove any finish that may be on the fabric.

And if you use starch, remember you must wash the blocks after they are stitched to remove the starch from the fabric (so you don't attract any critters...)

Readers, do you use stabilizers with your machine applique or do you starch your fabric? Your experiences are most welcome. Please use the 'comments' link to share yours. Thank you!


Julie Baird

Comments for Using starch with fusible web

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by: Anonymous

Thanks for the thoughts. They were kind of my thoughts also.

From the Editor: You're welcome! It never hurts to talk about what you're considering. Sometimes someone has experiences that just never occurred to me...the conversation helps to make the best decision for ourselves.

Have a great time traveling. My folks had an RV and Mom ALWAYS took her sewing machine and projects with her (to my Dad's chagrin).

She'd set it up on the picnic table and stitch away (piecing—not quilting). I was always amazed at the number of quilters there'd be in the parks. She was never at a loss for company.

Other than Mom being happy about it (Happy Wife, Happy Life) my Dad did appreciate that he needed to keep the coffee pot full for the quilters...he never met a cup of coffee that he didn't like! And now he had the perfect excuse. :D

Enjoy your trip!

~ Julie

Bugs and Starch
by: Sue

I have heard that if you use starch as your stabilizer that it attracts bugs and you should keep your finished blocks in the freezer until you have rinsed the starch out. I have been doing that.

My next question is I am going on a long RV trip and would like to take my blocks with me to do the hand embroidery. I do not have space in the freezer to keep my blocks. If I put them into a double ziplock bag do you think that will keep the bugs away. The trip is going to be 5-6 months long.

From the Editor: I would keep the blocks in ziplock bags for your trip and skip the freezer. I don't put mine in the freezer (there's never any room - blushing - that's what having teenagers will do for you!).

I caution my readers about 'critters' because starch is made from food products—corn, rice, potato. And critters seem to be able to find food wherever it may be...hence my caution. I can't imagine how icky it'd be to find silverfish in a quilt. Yuck!

But in all the time I've been using starch on my fabrics, and it's been for many years now, I have yet to find evidence of critters.

But to be on the safe side, especially when traveling in the RV I'd keep my projects zipped up!

Enjoy your travels!

~ Julie Baird

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