Starch Now, Sew Later

 by thequiltingpatch on 05 Mar 2017 |
2 Comment(s)

At The Quilting Patch, we have developed a technique we like to call "Starch Now,Sew Later".
There's lots of reasons to do this -  here are a few...
  • Going on holidays? One hour spent prepping your templates at the ironing board will mean youve got them all ready to sew when youve got a little sneaky sewing time. You can even sew in the car / train / cruise ship.
  • Having lots of appointments? When was the last time you turned up to a drs appointment and the receptionist said " you can go right in"? Never? Me too. 
    Having your templates prestarched means no more wasted time in waiting rooms flipping through magazines you would never read otherwise.
  • Sewing tin too heavy? If youre hesitant to take your project with you because its too cumbersome, this little step will change your mind. If youve prestarched your templates, all youll need to take is a needle, thread and small pair of scissors. ( and the templates of course! ) I carry mine around in a small zippered bag. It fits nicely in my handbag, and Im never held hostage in waiting rooms with nothing to do. 
What you'll need...
  • Eppiflex templates
  • Fabric ( or scraps that fit the template + seam allowance)
  • Fabric Glue pen ( eg Sewline)
  • Starch - premade or home made
  • Iron
Our Eppiflex templates are made from heat resistant film, which means they are safe to iron on a medium heat setting.
Caution : Continued high temp ironing will buckle the templates, they will still be usable but youll lose the accuracy you've come to love!

OK... so with the caution done, set your iron on a medium heat setting. We mostly use 100% Cotton for patchwork, but it will still iron well on a less than "cotton" heat setting. 

Make up some fabric starch or grab your favourite premade starch. My favourite is "Best Press" but when I dont have any I make my own with "Silver Star" Starch which is still available in IGA stores in Australia. The recipe is on the side of the pack. Follow it AND THEN WATER IT DOWN BY HALF. The regular starch is too strong and will leave white flecks on your fabric and bits on your iron. You can easily store any leftovers in clean jars. 
(I also like to scent mine with essential oils so if you have some, add around ten drops to a 750ml -1000ml spray bottle of starch)

Time to grab your fabrics, Eppiflex templates and glue pen... I am using hexi's in my example. 
On each wrong side of fabric  ( or scrap)  dab a spot of glue and then place the template on the glue, centreing it, as in the pic below.

Trim your seam allowance to 1/4 " or 3/8" if you like a little extra. 

Lay your prepared hexi on the ironing board and give it a little spray of starch and leave for a minute to let the fabric absorb the starch. If you iron it straight away all you'll do is iron the starch off the fabric  The starch wont hurt the template, they wash up great. 

Now fold each edge over  pressing as you go. I find this just gives the edges an even sharper line. 

Your shapes are good to store for later use. The starch will wash out, but for now it means you can throw them into your sewing kit and pull them out at the next sewing stop, be that an appointment or holiday destination!
Will they still need to be tacked?? 
This is a question I get a lot, and the answer depends on how you are going to sew them together. 
If your sewing method requires you to bend the templates in half, then I would say YES to tacking. While starching holds the edges well it wont keep the templates from popping out under pressure!
If your sewing method means you hold the templates flat at all times ( eg ladder stitching) you may not need to tack. 
My suggestion is to give it a go and find what works for you. 


Caterina - Comment
Caterina12 Jul 2017Reply
Hi, thank you for this little tutorial. I really like the idea of your technique. Currently I am sewing the New Hexagon quilt by Katja Marek using paper pieces. Do you offer Eppiflex templates for the New Hexagon quilt? That would be lovely :-)
Many thanks & best regards
thequiltingpatch - Comment
thequiltingpatch12 Jul 2017Reply
Hi Caterina - you have excellent timing, we are just about to launch the New Hexagon range. We are planning on running it as a BOM, with four packs arriving on your doorstep each month. We are totally open to suggestions, so please let us know what you think.
Victoria Webster - Comment
Victoria Webster23 Jul 2017Reply
Is there a quick link to the video to use your templates. I look everywhere and I can't find it
thequiltingpatch - Comment
thequiltingpatch23 Jul 2017Reply
Thanks for your question Victoria! Here's the link - the youtube video is on the Home page, just scroll down a little and you should be able to play it from there.

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The Storytellers Sampler Quilt - the Joy of Fussycutting

by thequiltingpatch on 20 Jan 2020
The story so far... Local quilter Cinzia White publishes an amazing book, The Storytellers Sampler Quilt. Eppiflex templates launches a Block of The Month called Telling Tales, featuring 60 upsized blocks from the book and I start sewing up blocks. Cinzia asks me to contribute to her quiltalong using blocks from the aforementioned book. I fall down the rabbithole of fussycutting. But let's talk about what this is really about... Addicted to sewing...addicted to fabric...addicted to starting new projects... and now addicted to fussycutting.  So what's the hype about fussycutting?  If you are already a creative soul and enjoying making pretty blocks by joining shapes together, fussy cutting is some next level crafty action. Do you remember those kaliedoscope toys we had as kids. I have no idea how they worked, they were just MAGIC. Who could get bored with the amazing patterns they made as you twisted and turned them. I was fascinated with them.                   "No you cant have a go yet, Im not finished" - I wasnt a good sharer being the youngest and most spoilt of my siblings. Ask my sister, she will back me up.  So fussycutting a beautiful fabric into an even more beautiful fabric block is a bit like making magic for me. Mirrors? Yeah nah. I know some people swear by them, but I don't want to know what it's going to look like. Why spoil the magic? That's like someone showing you a picture of the next kaliedoscope before you can twist the tube. Just let the magic happen. Embrace the unknown a little.  Waste of fabric?  This is what Cinzia says to me... but let's be honest we all have enough fabric to be a bit less frugal with it. I think quilters are the quintessential horders. Why else would we have so many memes about collecting fabric. Even the term stash says it all.  In fact in the current economic climate of a massive downturn in retail spending I think we all have a responsibilty to fussy cut more and support the shops before they disappear altogether.  So my little contribution to Cinzia's Quiltalong is "Blackberry Freedom" and it is English paper pieced. Thanks Cinzia for asking me to join in and for writing such a sensational book.  

2019 Block of the Month - Borders and Construction

by thequiltingpatch on 24 Dec 2019
If you've made it this far, you have sewn all your 12 flower blocks and the sun compass and are wondering whats next.. Here is where we are going to work with what you have, and not with what you should have according to this pattern. We are going off road! And let me explain why.. First of all, there's colour and fabric choice.. if you lay out your blocks exactly as the pattern above, it may not be the best layout your quilt could have. For instance when I laid my blocks out exactly as the quilt pattern, I ended up with 4 blocks of red flowers in a row. There was a real clump of red in one section and it looked aweful. So I've moved my 4 red blocks, placing one in each corner. I then took my 3 blue blocks and evenly spread them around, and so on.  It might take you a while to decide where your blocks are going. Take some photos with your phone along the way so you can decide on your final layout. Looking through you phone makes it easier for you to spot the "clumps" of colour or tone. Lets talk about how this medallion quilt is going to come together.  First of all we have our centre block - our sun compass. It's going to have a thin floral frame.  This is surrounded by a floral block border - these are the 12 floral blocks that you made. First we will attach two side border sections, made from 4 of our floral blocks. Next we will attach the top and bottom border sections made from our remaining 8 floral blocks. The pieced border is a border that features the scrappy floral prints we have used to frame our flower blocks. The last border is a plain border which is cut 3 1/4" wide Last is the binding - cut at 2 1/2" wide To frame the sun compass, cut your 4 frames 1 3/8" x 20 1/2" ( or whatever your compass square measures - mine was 20" so believe me there is wiggle room)  Cut 4 corner stones in the background fabric 1 3/8" Attach two squares to either end of two of your frames. Sew the first two plain frames to the sides of your compass centre Now add the frames with the cornerstones attached to the top and bottom of the sun compass Its now time to attach the side floral blocks to the framed sun compass. Make sure you pin the seam intersections so that your frames on your sun compass line up with the frames on your floral blocks.  The next step is to attach the top and bottom floral block rows, again making sure the seams line up by pinning them first.  The last bit of piecing from this quilt will be the pieced border. We are going to strip piece it, unless you are working with scraps and can't cut strips in any great length to strip piece.  If you are not familiar with strip piecing, check out my blog post from last year, in particular the first set of photos where I explain cutting and sewing the strips and then crosscutting them.  Your strips will be cut 2 1/8" wide. Sew one background fabric strip to a floral strip. Press well. Then crosscut this strip set to 3 1/4".  Join the sections of 3 1/4" together, topping and tailing them so that the fabric prints create a checkerboard pattern.  Each border has 16 units making up the checkerboard. You will need 64 units to make enough for the quilt.  Make and sew your border units together. Measure the length of these border units. Now cut 4 strips in the background fabric that is 3 3/4" wide x the length measured above. Sew these strips to each border unit.  ( ignore the seams in the picture below - your plain strip is cut in one length)  Now we need to make the 4 corner units. Once finished you will will attach two corner units to either end of 2 of your border units.  The corner unit consists of a four patch bordered on two sides by a mitred edge.  The four patch section consist of squares cut 2 1/8". The mitred edges are strips cut 3 3/4" x 7 3/8" and then trimmed on one edge at 45 degrees.     To sew this corner unit together, first make the four patch sections. Then pin and sew one mitred border from the straight side edge to the corner, stopping 1/4" short of the angled edge. Press.    Pin your second mitred border piece to the adjacent edge Beginning at the straight edge, sew towards the mitre, stop at the 1/4", lift the machine foot keeping the machine needle down to hold the fabric in place. Align the two pointy corner pieces and the mitred edge. Lower the foot and continue sewing to the end of the seam.     Your corner section seams should align with your border section seams. Attach two corner sections to the end of two pieced borders as below. You are now ready to attach the first two borders to the side edges of your quilt (the two without the corners attached.) Make sure you pin the borders and then sew. Press the quilt and then attach the second two borders (with the corners attached) again pinning first to align seams.  Phew!!! Nearly there!! The last border is a plain background border cut at 3 1/4", so it's time to press and measure your quilt, so you'll be able to cut the first two strips to the correct size. I would suggest measuring the quilt through the centre and cutting those 3 1/4" strips to this length, as a last effort in squaring up the quilt. Once you have the first two strips cut you can sew them on and press them. Repeat this step cutting the last two border strips to size before pinning and sewing them on.  Congratulations... if you are here with me now, you have a finished quilt top!! I hope you have enjoyed this years' challenging quilt - I think it is quite stunning and a credit to your sewing skills.  Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Have a safe and relaxing holiday season.  Much love Danni xx
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