Dew Point ~ And pressing on a wool mat with starch

SUNSHINE!  They rays are beautiful today.  And it’s about time for mother nature to cooperate on a Saturday!  Still no completed photos of Postage Sheet.  The ground is so spongey that it would make a mess of the quilt let alone tracking in more wetness into the house.  More than 4 weeks of torential rains, it raining every day for the past 2 weeks, this is a much needed respit.  Photos will come.  I need to seek out a photo opp on concrete.


Imagine you have a wash rag hanging on the clothes line, and it rains and rains and rains.  Because the volume of water the wash rag can hold, no matter how many inches of rain, it will dry in the same amount of time if it only rained an inch.  The ground is different.  My house is definately different that a wash rag in size and volume.

My home was built during WWII.  It was housing to shelter the United States Air Force Trainees in our little bitty town.  So if you do the math, my house is old, made of wood on a pier and beam foundation.  Because of rations at that time, the center from stud to stud is Greater than 16 inches….close to 20.  Anyway, the wood, as old as it is likes to suck up moisture.  The pier and beam foundation also sucks up water.  Today the temperature in the house vs. outside was significantly different.  So, the moisture level is becoming dew in the house.  Mainly on the floors.  When you walk, your feet are wet if you are barefoot.  If wearing sneakers, they squeek with every step.  This probably happens every morning, but not to this severity.  The floor was just as wet inside as the concrete on the porch outside.  The house reached its dewpoint.  Thankfully it is not raining in my house, as this used to happen at my dad’s shop.  Humid weather, dry cold air mass hitting warmth, it would rain from the ceiling on the prettiest blue sky days.  I suppose it would be called a dense fog at foot level.  The windows and doors are open.  The fans are running even though it is not hot.  Hopefully be the end of the day, enough moisture will burn off for this not to happen again short term.  I refuse to look at the weather forcast.  If the rock is wet, it is raining.  If it is white, it is snowing.

I have put away the jacks chain circles project.  The table I work from is not big enough to work the top and the coming together of the blocks.  It will happen, just not now.


I have been enjoying a couple blocks worth of stitching each night on the periwinkle blocks.


If you are interested in this block, it is not hard.  I have a free tutorial on my last post, check that out here.  In the pressing of each 1/4 of the block, the first seam press towards solid.  The next seam press towards the print.  Make sure when you feed the blocks through your machine, the wrong side that is up, the seam should be pressed towards the needle.  The other half of the block, the seam will not fight the feed dogs and will be pressed towards you.  This enables nested seams that will NOT scootch causing points/seams not to match.  The photo above is one snapped in a “Non-cheese fabric play moment”.  I am wiser now.

I had a stack to carry to the ironing mat this morning.  I did not prestarch my fabrics.  They are all fingerpressed at this point, but flimsy with no starch support.  I think of starch as a good stiff bra.  You wish you could go with naught, or with lacey and flimsy, but at the end of the day, this would be exhausting.  Going with stiffness/firmness helps hug ‘em all day keeping your energy and attitude better, more even keel with less wrinkles in life, ya know?

So I misted all my finger pressed blocks with starch.  Make sure not to do this step on your mat.  I recommend doing that on the ironing board.  I am one of those people who is just too impatient to wait for the starch to dry.  I press while wet.  I did not want to lay wet blocks on my expensive wool mat.  I have seen what starch does to my ironing board cover.  It carmelizes the starch.  I do not want to cook sugar on my pressing mat as there is no way to wash.  So instead, I laid a paper towel on my mat, placed the wet/starched block on mat, and pressed my block.  If any starch seeped, it was into the paper towel, not the mat.

I have a Rowenta iron.  OMG……it is now 12 years old.  The skid plate is made out of a chrome like plated piece of metal.  When clean it glides over fabric like there is nothing there.  When it is dirty, it drags and does not have good heat transfer.  How do I clean my iron?  Simple.  When the iron is off and cool to the touch, I carry it over to the kitchen counter, near the edge of the sink, and using a damp Magic Eraser (found in the cleaning aisle at the grocery store), I gently rub the brown starch carmelization away.  It probably takes less than 2 minutes.  Would this work with all irons?  No.  If you have a teflon or coated skid plate, all the carmelization is left in your fabric (which is kind of icky, but we quilters make do with what we have).  If you can see built up on your iron, it is probably time to clean your iron, it will now do a better job too.

On a completely different, but natural note, this area has been hit hard by the twig girdler bug.  I know, I had never heard of this before.  When the rains started, we had army worms, and I noticed in my driving around it looked like a storm had come through some areas.  Noticeably, it was small limbs down under trees.  At first I thought it was squirrels gathering branches for nests.  But all the limbs were the same size, almost perfectly.  In listening to a local radio program, the county extension agent said it was called the twig girdler bug.  Upon these fallen branches, if you pick up the limb and it is rounded off instead of broken off from the tree, you have these bugs.  These bugs lay eggs on the portion of the branch that falls for these to remain close by until the next breakout.  It was warned to burn the branches to ensure proper eradication, but in all likely hood they were still in the trees.  I was excited that I learned something knew, and came home to look it up on the internet.  These bugs perfectly lumberjack their way and saw off the branches very cleanly.  Nature is amazing, and you cannot believe how many trees I have seen with this problem.  I doubt the owners of these trees even could dream this up, and it will probably never be questioned, other than wind or storms.  Curious what the heck I am talking about?  Go here to wikipedia and learn more.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you are.

This picture is compliments of a 4H resources and here is the actual link with more details.

In summary, I have given a link with good instructions to make the periwinkle or hummingbird block.  I have also discussed a pressing issue (HA) of wet starch on a wool mat.   I have given you a hint on cleaning your iron.  And lastly, I have even introduced you to a local pest, though fascinating, still a nuisance.  My goal here is knowledge.  Passing on what I know to those who may not.  Knowledge is power, even if it is in the hobby room!

May your weekend be in stitches!  And thank you for reading my blog!

4 thoughts on “Dew Point ~ And pressing on a wool mat with starch

  1. I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now–you always make it interesting, whatever you’re writing about! Sometimes I learn not only something new (twig girdlers, periwinkle block, indoor rain, wet floors, the last two that I will never experience in my almost desert dry part of CA), but something practical for me, helpful to my life. I’m putting a magic eraser on my shopping list, and will try your starching/pressing method. Have not tried the starch I bought a year ago because I didn’t want to get it all over my ironing board’s (finally) brand-new cover and hadn’t worked out an easy alternative.


  2. I was lucky enough to see your postage sheet Quilt yesterday at our group’s sew day. We all oohed and awed over it. So pretty.


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