Pressing Quilt Tops

Summary from the Quiltnet
By Sue
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 1994 13:09:42

Thank you to all who responded to my distorted-blocks-after-pressing- what-can-I-do? question. Here is a list of the answers

Before you cut any fabric:

1. Starch, starch, starch!

While cutting fabric:

1. Don't iron like you would iron clothes - lift the iron and move it to the next place you want to press, place the iron down and hold it for a few seconds - don't slide the iron
2. Don't use steam or use an iron with holes in the bottom
3. Do try to finger press until assembly is done
4. Do handle bias edges as little as possible
5. Do use a scant 1/4" seam to allow for the turn of the cloth
6. Do use a gridded pressing pad to help keep blocks in shape

After the distortion is already done:

1. Try to block the block, using glass-headed pins to pin the block to the correct shape and hold a steam iron _over_ not _on_ the block - allow to dry
2. Or, the opposite way, wet the block and hold a hot, dry iron over it to shrink it back to size the seamstresses would with wool suitings
3. Ease the mismatched pieces together. I understand the concept of this, but am just confused as to whether the "longer" piece goes on top under the foot or on the bottom on top of the feed dogs. Note from Sue Traudt: Longer piece goes on the bottom.
4. [From my Aunt who shamelessly begs for handcrafts from her nieces] - Turn the block into a potholder and ship it to....

Thank you to:

Mary Beth ( through Lucette )

Using Starch

Summary from the Quiltnet
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 1994 13:24:53
From: Sharon

A few people on the list use starch in various ways. Here are the responses:

From: Kitty

I mix my own starch and put it in a hand pump bottle. The spray cans have a tendency to clog, but I don't seem to have that problem when I mix my own. I spray on the back of the block when I am using black fabric because it sometimes shows. Other fabrics it doesn't seem to matter.
From: Jane

I tend to use spray starch when ironing the big pieces of fabric after I prewash them. It helps me get out the wrinkles plus makes the cutting and pieces themselves more manageable. I don't do much applique so maybe you use starch differently for those projects.
From: Tami

I have only used Niagara regular spray starch when cutting bias binding and while folding it over and pressing. It must help, I don't get rippled bindings. Now that others have mentioned using it in the cutting phase, I'll try it there also. Part of the reason I don't prewash (I know, hereasy and I'll pay for it) is that the fabric gets so limp. Can't wait now to start something new!
From: Jennifer

* When is it the most helpful to starch something?

I have used starch just once. I had a fabric in the "perfect" color, but it was stretchy. When I cut it, it stretched out of shape. This made my blocks off square and difficult to piece. I sprayed a little starch on the fabric, and it was much easier to cut.

* What brands do you find work best?

Hm, I just took the brand that they had at my grocery store. There was just one brand available.

* Do you use more than one coat of starch?

No, one seems to do the job for cutting.

* If so so you let it dry in between? (How long/much?)

I don't know. I followed the instructions on the can. I think it could be ironed immediately.

* Do you wash it out when you are done?

Sorta. I washed the top.


Summary from the Quiltnet

Kelley's summary:

The overwhelming recommendation is to go with the stainless steel base iron, and several people responded that they have Rowentas and love them. Several said it is worth every penny (they are expensive) and one even said "the steam on the Rowenta is incredible".

The major problems with the teflon base are:
- when things (like wonder under or starch) stick to them, you ruin the base trying to get it off.
- the teflon wears of the edges and curls over time and then the iron sticks to or pulls the fabric.
- if you scratch the teflon, it will get sticky, just like the frying pans.

The only advantage to the teflon is that it is lighter (for those of you who can't lift heavy objects) but that is also a problem, because the weight of the iron helps it iron better.

The advantage of the stainless steel base:
- glides better over fabric
- the weight helps it iron better
- easier to clean (using a stainless steel wool pad, I assume)

I was also told that the "european irons reach higher temperatures to accommodate the linens, cottons and silks that are so popular there. American made irons, in my experience don't get hot enough to take the wrinkles out of cotton. I have no scientific data to back this up, but I've yet to meet an american iron that could dry-iron the wrinkles out of cotton that was put away slightly damp. The Rowenta does, however."

I also got the following advice: "If you want to use lame safely, buy yourself one of those teflon pressing sheets. They cost about $11 and you lay them over the lame, and press with a very hot iron. Miraculously, the lame doesn't melt and it fuses beautifully...this gadget is one I couldn't live without."

I also got the following comment on the timers: "My biggest complaint is that it has one of those timers on it, which may be great if you have a tendency to wander off, but it is horrible for quilting as you have to keep resetting it every time it gets ready to turn itself off. It beeps loudly to catch your attention. So I would definitely avoid any iron that had this feature if you need it mainly for quilting."

That brings up an interesting note: Both the teflon base irons that I looked at did NOT have the auto-shut-off feature and both the stainless steel base ones DID. Personally I like the auto-shut-off feature, since I tend to go back and forth to the iron, and I don't mind waiting for it to warm up, but I never know when I am going to get back to it, and I'd rather it turn itself off if I'm gone too long. I bet this is a really personal thing. I definitely don't want one that beeps at me, though.

From: Monica
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 1994 16:31:48

I got several new testimonials to Rowenta's, so I'm going to get one of the "Professional" models. Sounds like they will iron all the wrinkles out of cotton - something my husband has asked for with his all-cotton dress shirts. I just can't get them crisp, and I sure would appreciate nice flat pieces.