100 Days Update: Starch Accident!

A while back I posted a commitment to finish all my languishing quilting projects within 100 days, which means January 31. I identified 10 eligible projects. I’m pleased to report that three of these projects are completed, though not without incident.

No, I didn’t injure myself with overly sharp scissors. Nor did I puncture my finger with a needle and have to put on a bandaid lest I bleed on the fabric (this time).

This incident began with a simple project, as described in my previous post: “Lightweight flannel that needs to be made into a super-large baby blanket. I made one already for my sister last fall when my nephew couldn’t sleep without being swaddled. I had so much trouble with it that I wanted to use starch on the second one, but then it took me forever to buy starch and now I’m afraid of it. Note to self: deal.”

The starch in question was a bottle of liquid starch, rather than an aerosol can. I haven’t bought anything in an aerosol can since…1998? So why start now?

bottle of starch

You can’t see it in this picture, but the bottle says it’s equivalent to 8 aerosol cans. At no time did I consciously believe that I would have gone through 8 aerosol cans to starch a baby blanket’s worth of flannel. But the instructions gave ratios for mixing the starch with water, so I started to measure water into the sink until I got to the amount I needed to cover the fabric. At that point, I had measured enough water that for MEDIUM starch, I was supposed to add the entire bottle.

Medium sounds nice and middle of the road, right? Not too little, not too much?

I soaked the fabric in the startch and water mix, then wrung it out and took it to the ironing board. When I started to iron the fabric dry, the iron STUCK. When I peeled the iron off the flannel, not only did it stretch the fabric, but crystallized starch peeled off the fabric in patchy sheets and coated the iron. I’m used to ironing cotton dry, and I may not have factored in the heavier weight of the flannel, but after half an hour of ironing I didn’t feel like I’d made any progress in drying it out. So I threw it in the dryer. Then I realized I was probably wrecking the dryer for my fellow apartment complex residents, and took it out. I hung it over the bathroom door.

When I got it down the next day, it was stiff, scratchy, and molded into shape.

When I shook it slightly, it made that sound that posterboard makes when you’re carrying your science fair exhibit to school and it’s wiggling back and forth.

But it sure as hell stayed put while I was sewing.

On a final note, perhaps there are enough fabric and craft geeks reading this (2, at last count) to laugh along with me at this screenshot of a New York Times email I received recently: