Yesterday I was finishing up my Spring Basket Quilt Blocks by pressing and lightly starching all of the blocks, getting them ready for the next step – connecting all the blocks together. I had purchased a small bottle of Mary Ellen’s Best Press from my LQS. I thought I would give it a try even though I felt it was very expensive. It was what they recommended over other brands of spray starch. I was told it didn’t flake or clog up and was a light, natural, acid free alternative to the heavy spray starch I grew up with. Mary Ellen’s comes in a few difference scents. I decided on the lavender fields scent. I guess I picked that one just because it was purple and my sewing room is orange and purple.
As I was pressing and spraying each block with the spray starch I did notice a very light pleasant scent. I also like the way the pressing was turning out, although I’m not sure it was very “starchy”. 120 blocks is a lot of blocks to press and starch. The bottle was going down too quickly for the price I paid. I knew I was going to need more starch soon. I decided to take a break from pressing, check my email, and look up what other alternatives were out there that weren’t so expensive.
What I found was a few different homemade recipes for making your own natural spray starch. I already knew I could use corn starch to make my own, but that is too much like the cheap stuff you can buy. The other alternative I found was toted as the equivalent of Mary Ellen’s Best Press. The recipe calls for Vodka, distilled water and lavender essential oil. I guess Vodka is made from potatoes, which is a natural starch. Who knew. I thought why not give it a try. I won’t have to leave my house and I can finish up pressing all of my blocks.
O.K., maybe my homemade isn’t exactly like the recipe. I didn’t have any distilled water, so I boiled a pot of water for 20 minutes to get all the sediments out of it. I didn’t have any essential oil, but I did have a bottle of lavender potpourri. Close enough. I did have the Vodka. It looks like it is the good stuff. The bottle says premium. I don’t drink Vodka and it has been in the cupboard quite a while. It’s there for visitors I guess. I decided to use it. It’s probably stale anyway, right?
The recipes all called for 3 ounces Vodka, 24 ounces of distilled water and a few drops of essential oil. I cut the recipe down to fit in a spray bottle I had on hand. I used 2 ounces of Vodka, 16 ounces of boiled water and a few drops of lavender potpourri. Shake well and use. My homemade had a light scent, very light. It sprayed out nicely and did leave my blocks lightly starched. I’m not sure there is too much difference between the homemade and the store-bought. I’m going to continue using both types and compare. The homemade is definitely cheaper! But, I just don’t know. The jury is still out on it.
I would love to hear from any of you that have tried both store-bought and homemade or any other alternative to the expensive Mary Ellen’s Best Press. Happy Sewing.