Stabilize Backing Fabric

The best time to stabilize backing fabric is before attaching your appliqué and by doing this you give your appliqué a very professional look - no more puckering, uneven stitching or fabric movement!

It does this by;

  • making your stitches more even
  • preventing puckering of the backing fabric
  • reducing the amount of fabric the machine pulls up into the appliqué stitching
  • stopping the biased edge from stretching

When you use starch in your applique project the end result is very pleasing and one that you will be proud to add to your quilt.

There are several methods that can be used to stabilize your fabric.

Tear Away: This can be purchased from your quilting fabric shop. I find this method less than satisfactory as it tends to pull the stitches when you are removing the tear away.

Plain Newsprint: This as above has similar drawbacks to tear away. It is also another layer added making it difficult to manage while sewing.

Spray Starch: This is my preferred method. Most supermarkets stock spray starch, making it readily available. You can also make your own starch - I have a recipe for this at the end of this post. 

Spray Starch Method

  1. Cover ironing board with an old towel or similar
  2. Using a dry iron press your backing fabric
  3. Spray starch your fabric on the right side both horizontally and vertically
  4. Dry iron till dry
  5. Repeat the above process till your fabric resembles light cardboard.

I find some fabrics only require 2 applications but others may require 3. By the time you have assembled your quilt top your spray starch will have all but gone. If you decide to add further appliqué once finished and need to add extra spray starch then spray this onto the wrong side of the backing fabric.

Starch Recipe - make your own 

When you have made up your starch, place it in a spray bottle that you have labeled with the recipe you used and remember to shake well before use.

Recipe 1


Liquid starch eg Sta-Flo


Mix equal amounts of both. This will make a starch that gives a crisp finish. Try this first then alter the amounts to suit your needs.

Recipe 2


3 ounces of vodka - any will do the job so buy the cheapest

24 ounces of distilled water

A few drops of essential oil  - this is to scent your fabric and can be omitted

Great! With your fabric now stabilized you are ready to learn how to use steam-a-seam to make the sewing on of your appliqué design a breeze!

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