Clothing modifications are nothing new. Throughout history, people have been making changes and improvements to clothes. It is done either through re-design or adding certain substances to the fabric.
Of the many modifications, starching is one that has lasted for generations. Since the 1500s, people have been starching fabric. Starching methods have come a long way since the early days.
Starching involves applying a layer of starch onto fabric, making it stiffer. The practice was quite common in the 1800s and 1900s but has seen a decline in recent times.
Starching was typical for smooth fabric, but recently, people have started starching denim. Not all jeans are stiff, and starching them makes them more rigid.
So, why do people starch jeans?
There are various reasons why people starch their jeans. The main reason people starch jeans is to keep them clean for more extended periods. Starch penetrates the intricately woven denim strands, sealing any dirt and debris. As a result, the jeans become resistant to dirt and grime.
How To Starch Jeans
Starching jeans is not that complicated. The starching methods have come a long way since the 1500s.
The starching formula has been perfected and is now simple and effective.
Before you get started, there are a few things that you should have. These are:
- A commercial starching agent
- A container/ old pot
- Stirring stick
- Electric kettle
- Iron box
- Iron board
- Spray bottle
Once you have gathered the equipment,
Step 1: Wash the jeans properly using the designer’s recommended settings. You must get the dirt and grime out of the fabric for the best starching results.
Step 2: Ensure that the fabric is dry before starting the starching process. Do not starch wet jeans.
Step 3: Prepare the starch.
Dissolve a tablespoon of the commercial starching agent in water and mix thoroughly. Heat the water while stirring.
It is crucial as it prevents the starch from forming clamping. You can use an old pot or add the starch into a container and add hot water from your electric kettle.
Step 4: Application
Lay your clean, dry pair of jeans flat on the ironing board. Add the hot starch solution to a spray bottle.
Spray the starch solution a safe distance (about ten inches) toward the jeans. Apply the solution evenly along the length of the jeans.
The aim is to get the jeans dumped. Do not put too much solution to the point of drenching the jeans.
Step 5: Ironing
The ironing stage is optional. Many folks do not tolerate the idea of walking around in ironed jeans. Ironing helps the denim fabric absorb the starch better. Use a medium heat setting when ironing.
Step 6: Hanging the jeans
Once you have ironed the jeans, bloat them out and place them on a cack. It would help if you used clip hangers to help the jeans’ shape.
A Brief History On Starching
Did you know that starching pants were only common practice among the aristocratic class in Europe in medieval times? Before starching became mainstream, it was only accessible by the elite folks of the time.
The earliest ever recorded starch on fabric was reported in England in the 1440s. Starch sourced from plants was used on church linen. The starch was sourced from unique flowers known as the cuckoo-pint flower.
Later on, folks made starch by boiling bran in water. The mixture was allowed to settle for 72 hours then filtered. As most folks couldn’t afford bran in medieval times, starching fabric was not common.
At the time, professional starchers were employed by wealthy people. These starchers used bran, and a particular stone called the slick stone to ensure that the starch permeates the fabric properly.
Starching never quite retained its popularity throughout the ages. The starch was quite unpopular, primarily due to its effects on white clothes. Later during the Victorian times, blue starch was invented.
Blue starch was popular as it never tainted white clothes. One of the first starch brands to become commercial during the Victorian era was Reckitt’s colored starch. During this period, starch became increasingly affordable and common in households.
People incorporated other ingredients with starch to help the clothes archive a glossier and more aesthetic look. Candle wax was popular as it helped the clothes appear shinier. People used salt to minimize crimpling just before ironing.
By the turn of the 19th century, starch brands were common in markets. Most folk, however, insisted on making their starch at home.
People could make starch from a variety of foodstuff. Rice was particularly popular, as it gave the clothes a glossy and decent look.
As more people got office jobs and turned to formalwear, it was considered standard practice to starch clothes before wearing them.
The popularity of starching clothes has diminished somewhat in the 21st century. Many clothing companies make fabric that is stiff and durable enough that it doesn’t require starching.
Why Should You Starch Your Clothes?
There are various reasons for starching clothes, aside from keeping them clean. Starching has many benefits that you will appreciate once you start starching your clothes.
Here are some of the most relevant arguments for searching:
1. Starched clothes retain their color longer
Using starch on clothes makes them vibrant and less likely to fade. Starch protects the fabric from strong detergents and chemical substances.
The starch around the fabric absorbs most of the discoloring chemicals. Using starch on fabric also helps prevent discoloration caused by exposure to excessive sunlight. Starching sensitive fabric is essential.
Starching will also provide resistance against tints and different hews. It is crucial, especially if you inadvertently the wrong clothes on the same washing cycle. Any discoloration will easily wash off starch clothes.
2. Starching makes clothes impervious to stains.
By adding a layer of starch on top of the fabric, you will effectively prevent your clothes from catching stains. The layer of starch acts as a special coating.
Starching will help with tough stains such as ink, paint, grass stains, mud, and grease. These stains easily wash off starched clothes.
3. Using starch on clothes eliminates wrinkles.
Starching clothes removes wrinkles from your clothes. Starch gets between the threads and makes the fabric firmer.
A firm fabric is less prone to wrinkling and developing creases. When you starch your clothes, you will need to iron less.
Starching stiffens the fibers in your clothes and makes them resistant to folds. It makes starching perfect for formalwear and business clothing. You can use starch on khakis, shirts, jeans, and woven wool.
4. Starching reduces the need to iron regularly.
Starched fabric tends to retain stiffness longer than regular fabric. The starched fabric could, therefore, pass as ironed.
The fabric stiffness only increases over time with regular use. Since starch keeps wrinkles at bay, you will spend less ironing your clothes.
Why Should You Avoid Starching Clothes?
While starching has its fair share of advantages, there are plenty of reasons people prefer not to use starch on fabric.
Starching has the following disadvantages:
1. Starching makes clothes weaker
Starching your clothes will make your clothes less durable. The starch makes the fibers stiffer and reduces their ability to stretch.
Using starch, therefore, increases the likelihood of tearing upon flex, and it makes the clothing flimsy.
It would be best if you handled starched clothes with care. Do not use starch on sportswear or polyester, as they are meant to stretch.
2. Starching ruins the texture of clothes.
Using starch will make your clothes rougher. As the starch intertwines with the threads on the fabric, the fabric becomes hard. Rough fabric is undesirable.
3. Starched clothing may be uncomfortable.
Starched clothes are usually uncomfortable. These clothes do not enable you to stretch as much as regular clothes would.
The rough fabric will also be unpleasant. It may cause skin rash in people with sensitive skin.
4. Why spend extra?
Many people are disincentivized to starch their clothes as it would require you to spend money on buying starch. People would rather forgo starching, as modern-day fabric holds up well without starch anyway.
5. Starched clothes are not easy to store
Starched clothes need to be stored when bloated for the fabric to settle into the structure. It can be tricky to store bloated clothes, as you would need special hangers.
Starching clothing is not a new practice. People have been starching fabric from as early as the 1500s. Starching is a process that entails adding starch to fabric to make it stiffer. The technique was popular as it gave clothes a particular type of creaseless look.
Today, starching is done to prolong the period between wash cycles. It makes your clothes cleaner for more extended periods. Starching makes your jeans durable and also reduces the number of creases. This piece explains how to starch jeans and highlights the benefits.