Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To wash or not to wash

Although some quilters never pre-wash their fabrics, I nearly always do. I don't want any surprises
when I wash a finished quilt. Some cotton fabrics bleed, particularly reds, purples and other vivid colors.

My story: Assuming that wall hanging will never be washed isn't safe. I had a sample hanging in a store, there was a fire down the way in the strip mall. My quilt was smoke damaged. The conservator they consulted told them to dry clean everything, so they did!

What if your quilt contains several different unwashed fabrics--and some of them shrink more than others? Uneven shrinkage could cause puckers and distortions the first time the quilt is washed.
Some quilters intentionally use unwashed fabrics to assemble a quilt because the puckers left over after the first wash give the quilt a vintage appearance. If vintage isn't the look you're going for it's best to pre-wash your fabrics.
I use a laundry additive called Synthropol. (What is Synthrapol? It is a special detergent used in pre-scouring fibers before dyeing, and in washing out excess dye.)  Add a capful  to each load of fabric keeps loose dyes from depositing on other fabrics during the wash.

I press everything before I fold and put it away, I like them ready to cut when I'm ready to use them.

1 comment:

lmno said...

Your habits are similar to my own. I have consistently found the practice to be quite a time saver. Another reason is piecing blocks. Whether 180 sawtooth stars, nine patches, or square in a square blocks, pieces are accurately cut with no distortion. I a motivated because when I put a number of blocks together for a top, this is a no fuss step toward blocks that all fit together nicely.

A friend gave me a basket of scraps which were lovely. I spent a good deal of time wetting them down and ironing before cutting. It was much more difficult and time consuming than if the original fat quarters had been washed in the first place. What a chore those unwashed pieces were. I think it is more efficient in the long run to prewash. Many do not like to take the time. For me it is time well spent.