Mary Ellen’s Best Press

Do you use Mary Ellen’s Best Press?  When it first came out and everyone was raving about it, I refused to buy it because I’m cheap . . frugal . . .well, I just couldn’t figure out why it cost so much more than an 87¢ can of Fabric Finish that had been working perfectly fine for me.  Then I was at a retreat and someone had brought some.  The fragrance was Lavender Fields.  Because of my love affair with lavender, I no longer cared how much the Best Press might cost . . I had to have it!  I bought a spray bottle of the Lavender Fields and then I bought a gallon refill.  As far as the cost, I doubt it really ends up costing a lot more than that 87¢ can I had been using, even though it’s more than longer 87¢ these days.  When I was using the canned spray, I’d go through a can every few weeks.  The Best Press works better and one 16 oz. bottle that sells for about $8 – $10 will last me probably 6 months.

When I was going to sew at the new house earlier this week, I grabbed my spray bottle of Best Press and it was almost empty so I grabbed my gallon jug and a funnel and took it with me too.  The thought occurred to me that I wouldn’t have Best Press here but I had several cans of the Fabric Finish upstairs in the laundry room.  Once I began sewing, and using the Fabric Finish, it just wasn’t Best Press.  I knew I had a couple of spray bottles of the Caribbean Beach scent and remembered exactly where they were in the house in MO and remembered seeing a box that had some of the things that had been sitting in the cabinet with the Best Press so I began digging.

Finding that little bottle sure made me happy!  If you’ve never used Best Press, you might want to give it a try.  It’s fantastic stuff!  I’ve made my own starch, used Fabric Finish, starch in a spray can, starch you make up yourself from a mix, used a spray concoction that had lavender oil, water and some kind of alcohol . . maybe vodka . .  and nothing compares to Best Press.  For years I’ve heard we shouldn’t use starch on our fabrics because it can attract bugs who love to eat starch and fabric.  I thought Best Press had been advertised as not being a starch but on the website, I see that it’s a “crisp, clear spray starch”.  Whatever it has or is . . I’m hooked and can’t sew without this stuff.

Since a corner of the Halloween quilt is peeking through in the picture, I’ll show it to you with the blocks all sewn together.

The borders, straight and pieced portions, are all cut and loaded in the car so I’ll work on this if I get time while at the house today.


  1. 1


    I love Best Press as much as you do. It is the only thing I have used that will “take out” the center fold in fabric.

  2. 2

    Diana in texas says

    It took me awhile to try it also and yes, I love the stuff. It is also the only one I have found that really gets the fold lines out of fabric and they stay out. And while buying the gallon refill is expensive when you buy it, it ends up being cheaper in the long run.

  3. 4


    I hate adding scents to anything because of allergies – I have found that spraying on just plain old every day water gets those center seam fold marks out just fine for me. I’m cheap, frugal too 🙂

  4. 6

    Marilyn Smith says

    I love it too and so does my DH who does his own ironing. I have been using it for years – ever since it first came out. Now I need to find it in the gallon size. I wonder if Joanne’s carries it. I know my LQS does not have the gallon altho she said she could order it for me.

  5. 7


    Ha – I’ve been addicted to this for several years. It is soooo much more economical by the gallon. If your local LQS doesn’t carry the gallons, you can order it from the Best Press website – and since it’s a bit cheaper there, the total cost, including shipping, is about the same as what you would pay at the LQS. Enjoy!

  6. 8

    Claudia Wade says

    Judy – I agree with you! I was so determined NOT to love Best Press because it is more expensive, at least the way I use it. But I do love how it works. I think it works better than cheap spray starch. My favorite fragrance of the Best Press is Citrus Grove.

  7. 9

    Sharon says

    I have been a convert of Best Press for ahile now. There was a sale at Hancock’s one day and I thought I would try it. Love it and use it all the time. Didn’t know they made it in gallons. I have only seen the refill in the big (2 quart size maybe) bottle and that’s what I have bought.

  8. 10


    I have a confession. I have Mary Ellen’s Best Press — a small bottle. But, I’m not sure how or when to use the stuff! {Just a reminder, I’m a self taught quilter.} Do you use it all the time? before sewing? pressing? etc., & etc.?

    • 10.1


      Lee Ann, I wash all my fabric before it ever makes it to the sewing room. Then I spray it really good but don’t soak it with Best Press. I press it and fold it exactly the way I want it and it goes onto the shelves. It isn’t crunchy but it’s nice and crisp. When I get it out to use it, there are some fold likes from how I had it folded and with other fabrics stacked on top so I find that using a steam iron to press it kinda “re-activates” the starch and I don’t have to spray it again.

      Same with pressing seams. The fabric has already been sprayed once before going onto the shelves so just hitting the seams with a little steam and they usually do exactly what I want them to do. But, if I have a stubborn seam, I’ll pray it again and get it to do what it needs to do.

      I’d recommend spraying the fabric with the Best Press once and if that works through the whole process . . great! But if you find it needing a second spray, go for it.

      Some folks may take their fabric out of the dryer and fold it without pressing it so in that case, it would be sprayed before using it. Some don’t even wash their fabrics and they can spray it whenever it needs spraying.

      Really, there are no rules . . just whatever works for you.

      • says

        I love the idea of just spraying it once and not having to spray again. I think I now know what I should do. I will be spraying the fabric and pressing before cutting it up! Thank you so much for answering this question of mine!

    • 11.1


      I’ve used the Lavender Fields, Cherry Blossom and Caribbean Beach. I want to try the Clean Linen and Citrus. I must iron more! 🙂

  9. 13

    Susan-North Idaho says

    I prewash everything too, and Best Press-Carribean as I use it.It gives it a “brand new right off the bolt feel”. I have made so many converts in my little quilt groups. My LQS sold me a gallon a couple of years ago out of their stash. (They will refill your little spray bottles at a discounted price, so she had plenty). Just now getting to the bottom of the gallon jug. I’ve tried the Fresh Linen, it’s okay and a good 2nd choice. I didn’t realize their could be so many different “fresh linen” scents: candles, oils, room sprays, plug-ins, sheet spray freshener, and they’re all different,fabric softeners,laundry soaps.

  10. 14

    Denise says

    I use the unscented due to allergies and it’s great. Hey have you been stealing from my stash – I have some of that scrolly bright colored fabric in my stash that’s on your ironing board photo. 🙂 Love it!

  11. 15


    I love Best Press — the lavender is my favorite, but I also like the cherry blossom, too. And it works marvelously. And for those who don’t like scents, it also comes unscented. Something for everyone! 🙂

  12. 18


    I just recently tried “Best Press” for the first time and loved it! I bought it in the unscented formulation because I was not sure I wanted the lingering smell of a scent on the finished quilts. For those that have used the scented versions, does the fragrance wash out when the quilt is washed?

    I also saw a post awhile ago from Dawn Heese (of Linen Closet Quilts) and she said she loved “Best Press” but when she ran out and couldn’t get more, in a pinch she tried MAXX Starch by Faultless (found at Walmart) and found that to be an excellent and cheap alternative. Unfortunately when I read that I had already splurged on the Best Press and don’t have a Walmart near me so has anyone else tried this one?

  13. 19

    Mary L says

    Have also found the Wal-mart brand to work just as well. For awhile Dryell made a starch alternative that was exactly like Best Press only half the cost. For some reason they quit making it, at least I can no longer find it here or online. Maybe patent infringement or something as you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. I’m still missing it.

  14. 21

    bcinindy says

    I have been using the Best Press for some time now. When it first came out it was very hard to find. Now that it can be found in almost every quilt store I try not to be without it.

  15. 22

    Kathy Alden says

    I sure love Best Press. I order the gallon from JoAnn’s online and use a 50% coupon. Even with the shipping, its way less than what the local stores sell it for. I do try to support local as much as possible, but $20 savings with shipping is a lot to pass up.

  16. 23


    I’ve been on the bandwagon for Best Press for several years. At retreat one year I brought my bottle & the vendor there had never heard of it. She tried it on a project she was working on & said that she would have to start carrying it because she loved it.

    My only complaint is that the smell seems to get into my ironing board cover & then gets transferred to non-quilting things (like DH’s work shirts). . . .I don’t mind the scent but he does when it is on his work clothes!! LOL

  17. 24

    Marla says

    I just adore Best Press and lavendar is definitely my favorite. I ration myself as I go through it so quickly. The scent goes away after awhile but I love the aroma therapy while I am pressing. Wish I knew the formula tol make my own! Lavendar is my favorite scent. I have a local crafter in the area who makes lavendar/oatmeal soap that even my husband loves.

  18. 25


    I love the halloween quilt. However it looks like big bird heads to me rather than Halloween………orioles maybe. Or cardinals, something with a red head and black beaks.

    glen: just noticed that odd fact

  19. 26


    A friend bought me a bottle of Best Press and I love it. It has lasted a long time, and when it runs out….I’ll look to buy more of it! I’ve not looked at it in the stores to see what other scents they have besides the lavender nor have I priced the gallon refill….might look now online to see if I can find that. Your Halloween quilt is awesome!

  20. 27

    Robin says

    I too love Best Press however I can’t tell you how many ironing board covers I have gone through in the past couple years that I have been using it- they get too scorched and I have even used 2 different irons. This last cover is supposed to be scorch resistant so I will see.

  21. 28

    kalli says

    You can order a gallon of Best Press at JoAnn’s and use your 40% coupons on it!

    I’m a cherry girl myself for scents…wouldn’t have anything to do with loving being up north Michigan where all the cherries grow…nah!

  22. 29

    Carol R says

    I love the Best Press also. I mainly use it on fabric that I’m going to embroidery on – spray it on both sides and get the fabric stiff. I don’t use a hoop and use the 12 wt Sulky thread instead of floss. I have also used it on some summer blouses to crisp them up.

  23. 31


    I like to load a backing on my frame, spray Best press lightly,and then tighten the backing just a little. It ‘irons’ the backing and smells great in the process! I have heard there is a homemade version. I MIGHT try it..and then again , I love the original, so why mess with a good thing?

  24. 32

    Sandi says

    MMMmmm…Best Press! I love the Caribbean Beach, but it’s harder to find, so Fresh Linen is a good second choice.

  25. 33


    I have a question! I was using generic liquid starch for awhile with my quilting (diluted with water and in a spray bottle). I LOVED how it crisped the fabrics up, and I loved how much more precise my patchwork was. But it really gunked up my iron something awful, to where it stopped working and was getting crusty starch residue on other things besides quilts! Not to mention it totally wrecked my ironing board cover. So, I quit using it. SO I’m wondering — does this stuff do the same thing? Do you just accept that and replace your iron and ironing board cover more often? Or is there something I’m doing wrong? I do use a lot of steam when I iron, maybe I shouldn’t do that? Thank you so much!!!


  26. 34

    Joan in NE says

    I order Best Press online from JoAnn fabrics when I have a 50% off coupon. Brings a gallon down to about $22 and a bit of postage. Just can’t bring myself to pay full price for the small spray bottles in the quilt shop They are around $10 here for that size bottle.