Thursday, November 5, 2015

Does it Work? Best Press

One of the things I've done over the past few years that has been fun is testing products and writing articles about those tests for the Quilting Quarterly which is the member magazine for the National Quilting Association, Inc.

This is an updated version of the test I did on the product Mary Ellen's Best Press.

Starting with well-pressed fabric is essential for cutting accuracy. Some quilt makers simply use a steam iron.  Others spray their fabrics with water before pressing and still others like to use spray starch for a crisp finish.  Another choice is to use Mary Ellen's Best Press and yet another is to make your own "Best Press" using easily obtained ingredients.

Mary Ellen's Best Press promises to make ironing easier, smells wonderful, and there is no flaking even on dark fabrics.  It is non-clogging, acid-free, and leaves no residue, relaxes stubborn wrinkles while giving clothes a crisp, new finish. It makes clothes soil resistant, makes fabric look brand new and does not attract bugs.

As a confirmed starch user, I was skeptical.  However, I had not been happy with the starch flaking on dark fabrics, so gave Best Press a try.  I purchased the 16 oz. spray bottle at a cost of about $7.95.  There are other sizes and costs may vary depending on where you buy the product.  I used a 30% off coupon at a local quilt shop so that did reduce the cost a big.

I sprayed the product on dark fabric and pressed using the cotton setting.  Here is the result.

No flakes!  I was impressed!

The same fabric sprayed with a commercial spray starch looked like this after pressing.

Though the starch product I used has a statement on the can that says flaking can be avoided by allowing the starch to be absorbed by the fabric before pressing, I have had mixed results when doing so.  Still, I love the crispness that starch gives, so I do continue to use starch for some things.

It wasn't long after this that a friend told me that there was a formula for making a product that mimics Best Press using 3 oz. of vodka, 1 teaspoon of essential oil fragrance and mixing with 24 oz. of distilled water.  I tried it and it did work as well as the commercial Best Press, so I was hooked on that.  It was far cheaper and worked as well, so who could beat that, I thought.

And then, I did beat that.  I experimented with adding a bit of liquid starch to the vodka and water mixture until I had just the amount I felt produced the best results.  I now add 1/2 cup of liquid starch each time I make this home made version and love the results.

The original maker of this stated that she used potato vodka, but I really just buy the cheapest brand I can find and it works just fine.  The essential oil fragrance I've purchased at WalMart and find it with the candles.  The Dollar Tree stores also sell essential oil fragrance and it is found with the candles there as well, though their bottle is a bit smaller, it costs only a dollar!  I prefer the lavender fragrance, but any would do.

I will add my own caution -- I do not guarantee that you will have success, but two of my friends and I use this formula all of the time.  Try it once and if you would rather pay more for the commercial product, by all means, do so.

Now for the starch lovers, like me, I still use spray starch for some things.  When I want something very crisp, I use spray starch that I make myself.  The directions were on the bottle of liquid starch I purchased.  I mix the starch half and half with water for a pretty stiff result when pressed.  If you want less stiffness, just use less liquid starch.

It works for me! Give it a try and you might change the way you press fabrics. You may save some money and be able to buy more fabric so it's a win/wing situation!  Let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please just leave a comment to ask.

I will tell you that I was criticized for mentioning that starch flakes.  It says so on the container, so I feel no guilt in making that statement.  I still like starch and use it, I'm just very careful with the dark fabrics just like I was before and sometimes, it still flakes!

Until next time,




Barbara said...

I've become a convert to searching. Where do you get the liquid starch? I haven't found it in my area.

Botanic Bleu said...

Great tip about making your own Best Press. Spray starch from a can often leaves white flakes and just on dark clothes. I usually have to have a damp bathcloth ready while I'm ironing so I can wipe away the flakes.

Congratulations on your first Does It Work? blog post. I'm looking forward to more in this series.

I read this a few days ago, but came back to re-read.


Botanic Bleu said...

...should have written NOT just on dark clothes...

Karen said...

Interesting post. I tried Best Press and sneezed every time I used it. I just use a spray starch. I have looked for the liquid starch in the past and not found it. I know you can make your own starch. I wonder if the vodka recipe would work in it.

Chris said...

Karen mentioned she sneezed when using Best Press. My husband and I both cough whenever I use it, so I've determined we're allergic and no longer use it. I'm anxious to try your homemade recipe with the added starch! Thanks!

Lois Arnold said...

Thank you for your comment, Chris. I hope the home made version works for you. You may want to leave out the scent. It may be that you are allergic to artificial scents which could cause both coughing and sneezing.

eileenfb said...

A very interesting article.
I make starch by using cornflour (cornstarch powder) and mix it into my sprayer which is about half full of cold water.
Shake vigorously then it's ready to use. It doesn't go off or mouldy. Sometimes I add vodka but it doesn't seem to need it.
Remember to give it a shake before using it as it quickly settles.

Lois Arnold said...

Great suggestion, Eileen! I have not tried corn starch and water mixed to use as liquid starch. My mother used to mix a powder form of starch mixed with water when doing laundry. I think she actually cooked the mixture for it to thicken before using. I'll have to give corn starch a try.

Heywyre said...

If you cook the cornstarch and water together, it will stop it from settling

Unknown said...

Cornstarch leaves spots !