I think the hardest thing for me was using unscented products. A lot of quilters have allergies to the scents added to detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets and starches. Of course, you don't want someone to have an allergic reaction to the blocks you submit to the swap, so you have to be sure to follow through on this guideline!
But then came the construction of the blocks. I hadn't realized how much I depended on my Mary Ellen's Best Press Clear Starch Alternative!
I love the scents.
I love how crisp my fabric feels.
I love the steam facial I get while pressing.
I know it's available in an unscented version, but I had at least half a gallon of Lavender Fields to use up and didn't want to invest in any more Best Press.
(FYI: When your significant other is carping about the price of milk and gasoline being over $3 a gallon, DO NOT mention that you paid $42 for a gallon of Best Press!)
Someone in the swap group mentioned that it was possible to make your own "best press", so I did a little research and found several recipes online. Just about all the recipes I found used distilled water and vodka. Apparently, the vodka, being made from potatoes (or wheat, I have learned) has a starch effect that contains no scent. I decided to give it a try. The recipe says to use the cheapest possible vodka, because the idea is too save money!
Basically all of the recipes boiled down to :
24 ounces of distilled water
3 ounces of vodka
Mix together and store tightly capped.
1) I didn't really feel like the vodka/water mixture did a thing to crisp up my fabric. I thought about upping the ratio of vodka to water, but was afraid of scorching or spotting. (There are recipes that suggest adding a teaspoon or so of corn starch, but that seemed like it would also cause spotting, so I didn't try it.)
2) If you aren't happy with this mixture, you are left with a lot of cheap vodka that you will have to figure out how to use up in something else.
3) The sewing room smells like a cocktail bar. Caution: spouse will not believe you are just ironing.
2) The mixture absorbs into the fabric very fast, and when pressed, evaporates quickly.
3) The sewing room smells like a cocktail bar. Caution: could cause craving of wine at 9 am.
I will continue to use up my pint of cheap vodka making starch alternative, but will be going back to my Lavender Fields ASAP.