Jersey Scarf with Homemade Knit Stabilizer

I had some leftover knit fabric from this dress (and its mirror image, which I haven’t yet finished), and it seemed perfect for a little springy scarf. As I’ve mentioned before, a frau can never have too many scarves.

Last time I sewed with knits, I used spray starch to stiffen the edges since I couldn’t find knit stabilizer in Germany. Maybe it exists here, but I gave up looking when I didn’t find it at the neighborhood store. I’m lazy like that.

The starch or stabilizer makes it easier for the fabric to go through the machine and to take the stitches. The spray starch method was cheap and effective but required a lot of applications, which was time-consuming. 

Recently I had this out-of-the-blue memory of my Granny, who passed away almost 20 years ago, telling me that you could use the water from cooking rice as liquid starch. Isn’t memory strange? My fabulous fiesty grandmother is still with me in so many ways.

So here’s the skinny:

Take a handful of rice, throw it into a saucepan, and cover it with a slightly larger quantity of water. Boil until the water gets kind of milky. Then cool and drain the liquid into a shallow bowl or container.

I let the liquid thicken a bit, but turns out it was a leeeetle too much. The fabric, instead of being stiff, turned out to be so hard as to be crunchy. So, don’t let it thicken too much.

Next I painted the mixture on the edges of my fabric, using a pastry brush. (Don’t worry honey, no household objects were harmed in the making of this craft.)

After letting the fabric dry, it was ready to sew. After sewing I threw the scarf into the wash to get the starch out.

Speaking of memories of women in my sewing past, look what I found recently:

This is from my very first home ec class. I think we were required to use several hand-sewing techniques (buttonholes, hemming, hooks and eyes) before we received this and were then allowed to use the machines. Doesn’t it look so old and wonderfully low-tech? My dear teacher, the late Mrs. Atkins, was also a close family friend. Her memory lives on.

Does anybody know if they still teach home ec these days? It seems kind of quaint now, but as you can imagine, I loved it.

7 thoughts on “Jersey Scarf with Homemade Knit Stabilizer

  1. I may have to try this with my embroidery. …yes they still do teach home ec. I think its a great class for both boys and girls to take. In our local school they give the kids a like real computer baby to take care of for about two weeks.

  2. I love the grandmother connection. I describe your method and linked to this page on my blog. (It will be posted on Friday.) I have tried it out and liked the results both on seams and as a temporary glue for appliqué work. I used rice flour in water cooked together instead because I had some around. Same stuff in the end.
    Thanks for this, I love the ingenuity and using what we have on hand. Pretty scarf too 🙂
    I only took home ec for 2 years. It’s really too bad it doesn’t get more emphasis. What is more useful than knowing how to cook? I still love sewing. Isn’t it crazy how you find people on the internet over sharing the desire to find a homemade fabric stabilizer?

  3. Pingback: The connection between kimchi, sewing gymsuits and other knits and two grandmothers

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