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Thread: Advice on prewashing needed

  1. #1
    Senior Member bodie358's Avatar
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    I bought a kit that contains red, white and blue fabric. This is quilt shop quality - 100% cotton. I am worried that the colors will run but I am afraid of shrinkage since I cannot purchase extra fabric if I run short. Would you pre-wash? If so, how? (I am a complete beginner as you can see). What about controlling the shrinking?

  2. #2
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    I wash everything before taking it into my sewing room. If I think there's a chance colors will run, I dump a bunch of distilled vinegar into the load. Since you're supposed to wash quilts in cold water, you may want to pre-wash the fabrics in cold as well. No fabric softeners. If I'm pretty sure colors will run, e.g., batiks, I dump in a BUNCH of vinegar AND a couple of dye-catcher sheets. I pre-wash for a number of reasons, primarily to pre-shrink and set the colors, but also to make sure the fabric will hold up to washing in the first place. Other people will have as many reasons to not pre-wash, and you'll gradually figure out what you're happiest doing.

    With red, white, and blue, you probably would want to wash them separately.

  3. #3
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    I always pre-wash my fabric to remove all the "finishing" and formaldehyde from it.

    You can also use Epsom Salts in your water as well. I find I get better results using Epsom Salts rather than vinegar.

  4. #4
    Super Member mpeters1200's Avatar
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    I think that the key word you used is KIT. If you are using a kit, then your pieces are already cut to the specs for the pattern. I would put the quilt top together first, THEN wash with vinegar and color catchers. I would be too worried about shrinkage to prewash with kit cuts.

  5. #5
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpeters1200
    I think that the key word you used is KIT. If you are using a kit, then your pieces are already cut to the specs for the pattern. I would put the quilt top together first, THEN wash with vinegar and color catchers. I would be too worried about shrinkage to prewash with kit cuts.
    I agree. If you are worried about having enough fabric after washing I would finish the quilt first and than wash. I love the puffy, wrinkled look of a quilt after washing. Makes it look like an antique.

  6. #6

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    I agree, I would make the quilt and then wash it either with color catchers (several) or Retayne. One time I put a just-finished blue and white quilt in the washing machine. The water turned blue so I immediately took the quilt out and let it air dry. I bought a box of Shout color catchers at Walmart and washed the quilt with two color catchers - it was a small quilt - the white stayed white.

    I usually pre-wash my fabrics but I have a friend who never does. She washes the finished quilt with Retayne and has had no problem with colors running.

    Judy

  7. #7
    Super Member SulaBug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashnquilt
    I always pre-wash my fabric to remove all the "finishing" and formaldehyde from it.

    You can also use Epsom Salts in your water as well. I find I get better results using Epsom Salts rather than vinegar.
    Thank you for this tip. I have never heard of using Epsom Salts before. I am anxious to try it out. :D

  8. #8
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    Hi,

    I never prewash my fabric, and if it is quilt shop fabric it shouldn't bleed. I have read on here that others have had quilt shop fabric (like Moda, etc) bleed....I haven't, so maybe I am just very lucky!

    I would make the quilt and then wash it, I usually do wash my quilts after I get them quilted and the bindings sewn. I figure it was handled a lot and quilted and handled and probably on a floor, etc., and I like the look after washing. It seems to puff a bit and be softer.

    Bev

  9. #9
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I would not prewash. However, I would use Synthrapol to wash the quilt the first time. Synthrapol allows any unset dye particles to be suspended in water and rinsed away so they do not settle in other fabric. This is the most reliable method of making sure nothing gets stained from bleeding fabric.

    Also, you can do some tests on small pieces of fabric to assure yourself there will be no massive bleeds. Take a damp piece of white cotton fabric and rub it on each fabric. No dye should transfer. You can also snip off about a square inch of fabric and immerse it in a clear glass of water. Leave for a few hours. If the water is clear, fabric won't bleed excessively.

    If one of the fabrics bleeds a lot during the testing process, you will have to be super careful about the first few washings -- use Synthrapol, remove the damp quilt immediately to dry, and keep using Synthrapol until wash water isn't colored.

    Salt and vinegar were traditional methods of setting dyes in fabric. However, each works primarily with a subset of organic dyes. Almost all fabric dyes these days are chemical dyes, so salt and vinegar often have no effect. The purpose of using salt and vinegar, anyway, is to set dye in fabric. If you were to use these, you would want to use them on the fabric before making a quilt. Retayne does the same thing but is more reliable on chemical dyes. You would not want to use these on a quilt because they are designed to set dyes, including bleeds. You do not want to set a bleed into another fabric.

  10. #10

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    Since you are more concerned about shrinkage than bleeding, you should wash it all in warm water and dry the heck out of it. Except for batiks, quilt shop fabrics tend to shrink a LOT. (They also bleed.)

    I worked in quilt shops for maybe 6 years.

    If you wash in the Synthrapol, be sure to wash it again with soap/detergent, because that is pretty toxic. I think someone here posted a statement from the company to the effect that it shouldn't be used on children's items without rewashing.

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