Spray Starch ~ Buy or Make

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.


4 Responses to “Spray Starch ~ Buy or Make”

  1. Pat Says:

    I bought a quart of Best Press once and now I use that bottle to make my own. Personally I like my own better as I like a little more starch. p.s. vodka doesn’t get old–it ages! I can’t use artificial smells, like potpourri, the oils work for me.
    Spray Starch Recipe I use: (Changed from an online recipe)
    1 qt distilled water
    1/4 cup Vodka
    1 tsp Lavender oil or Lemon Oil or whatever is your favorite
    5-10 drops of another oil that would blend. I usually use lemon and lavender oil together.
    1/2 cup liquid starch
    Mix together in a quart bottle and transfer to a plastic spray bottle. Hair product bottles are perfect as they spray in a very fine mist.

  2. Sandi Says:

    I use a stripped down version – just 1 part cheap vodka and 3 parts tap water. I have a 16 ounce bottle, so I dump in approximately 1/2 cup vodka and top it off with water. I don’t add essential oils because some of us are sensitive to scents, but you can add a couple of drops of oil to the vodka, shake it good, then add the water and shake again. It has other uses, too. Ever use Febreze? Don’t waste the money – the vodka water does the same thing and MUCH cheaper. I learned that trick from the costume designer at the dinner theater where I work. They can’t wash the costumes after every performance, so they spray them down with vodka water and let them air dry to remove the odors. Put a bunch of people on a stage under hot lights and believe me, those costumes can stink!

    • klccreations Says:

      Hi Sandi, thanks for the information. I believe I did hear about it used like Febreze. I’ll have to try it. Thanks also for taking time give us your review and for stopping by. Happy Sewing! Kathryn

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