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Thread: Fabric bleeding disaster, is it possible to fix it?

  1. #1
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Raleigh, MS
    I can't tell you how heavy my heart is right now. This quilt I'm working on is for a show in September. I was fairly happy with it up until this point. I really wanted to block it so it would hang flat and square. I was a little nervous because it's all red batiks and a mottled light batik, but I knew it wouldn't hang well at the show without blocking. I put the quilt in my front load wash on just a cold rinse and gentle spin and I put a whole box of color catchers in with it. When I pulled it out my heart sank. Lots of bleeding.

    My husband and I went on and blocked it last night anyways and he kept saying it wasn't really obvious since the light colored fabric was mottled already. Bless his heart, he'd tell me the sky was green if he thought it would make me smile. I looked at it this morning and I just can't get over the bleeding. It's plainly obvious to me and I'm ill thinking about what the judge and spectators would think looking at it. There's not anywhere near enough time to make a new one and I don't feel it's right to withdraw from the show (entry form is already sent and confirmation mailed back to me).

    My question is this; Would it possibly help at all to wash the quilt in HOT water with Synthrapol? Could that do more harm than good, or is it not likely to help at all?

    Pictures aren't the best because I took them with my phone. First picture has the original light fabric laid next to part of the quilt with bleeding (above the bottom triangle, not that you wouldn't spot it without directions). Second picture shows more bleeding below the blue dotted fabric square. That particular fabric seems to be the one that bled the worst, if not the only fabric that bled. Lucky me it's the one I used for the 6" wide border. :(
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    A million dollar view!
    I feel for you.

    I do not have any answers, but I would like to know if the fabrics were washed beforehand.

    My DS bought some fabric (batiks) recently and the clerk informed her it had to be washed beforehand. She said that brand is notorious for bleeding. Sorry, I do not know which brand it was.

    Hope someone can help.

  3. #3
    Super Member leatheflea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    martinsville Indiana
    color safe bleach?

  4. #4
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Knot Merrill, Southern Indiana
    What I'm seeing is that some of the "color" that looks like bleeding really isn't - it's color from the original fabric. But the bottom pic is clearly bleeding. Right?

    I'm going to defer to experts here ... I know what I would be tempted to do but it's a last resort.

    wish you the best of luck though. From the bit that I see it sure does look pretty.

  5. #5
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I am so sorry. Guess that's another reason to wash the fabric first.

  6. #6
    Super Member 0tis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern California
    Its still a beautiful quilt - this sounds like a display quilt or is it for a judging show? I don't think it looks that bad either - you could just call it a "custom - one of a kind" dye job. I think most of us here are harder on ourselves than others - look at all the positives - beautiful colors, great pattern, excellent quilting design - really we have no control over the fabric bleeding - so I say hold your head high and go forth.

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Outer Space
    Since you didn't put it in the dryer the color hasn't set. I don't know about which chemical to add...but I would for sure give it another go in the wash. What would it hurt to try and get the bleeding out?

  8. #8
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I'm so sorry. I would wash the quilt, perhaps several times, in synthrapol. I know that synthrapol says to use hot water, but I'm not sure about doing that after you have a bleed. Prism99 is a board member who has a lot more knowledge of this, so ask her about it. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Hudson Valley, NY
    I know exactly how you feel. My quilt, Kaaterskill, had two fabrics that bled badly. When I pulled it out of the washer, I could instantly tell how bad it was, because all the yellows were tinged with pink. My husband said the same thing yours did - that no one would notice.

    I did try and wash it one more time, to no avail, and finally decided that anything else I would do would make the situation worse, not better. However, I showed that quilt in a few major shows, and not one judge mentioned the bleeding, and in fact it did very well in all of them.

    If you have any scraps of the fabric, you could try washing them in Syntrapol and see how it works out. I'm suspicious about the front loader washer - I think mine allows the quilt to sit too long in water without agitating it, and that's part of the problem. If you have access to a top loader that will continuously agitate the quilt, that might work better.

    Good luck...I'm sure the quilt is a beauty no matter what the fabric did.


  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
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    I would take it to a laundromat and use the biggest front-loader they have with hot water and Synthrapol. You may have to wash it multiple times this way to get all of the bleeds out, but it should work eventually. I would bring half a dozen boxes of color catchers and throw a box worth of those in with each load also. I would plan on spending the day at the laundromat.

    Chances are the bleeds were caused by one or more reds not being rinsed enough at the factory to get rid of excess dye. Fiber can absorb only so much dye; any excess sits on top of the fibers waiting for water. If this is the case, and it's the most likely scenario, the red(s) will stop bleeding and multiple washings in Synthrapol will gradually get rid of the unset red bleeds.

    Do not dry the quilt in the dryer unless you are satisfied that all of the bleeds are out. Drying naturally isn't as bad.

    Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

    Edit: I agree that part of the cause may have been your home front loader. These do not use enough water for bleeds to disperse. That's why I recommend a laundromat's largest front-loader; still easy on the quilt, but there is enough water for the excess dye to disperse instead of settling into fabric.

    Additional Edit: If you have a friend who has a large top loading machine, you could also do this in a top loader. The thing is that you have to make sure the "agitation" cycle is never engaged, as this is hard on the quilt. Also, you would have to use long rubber gloves to protect your hands from the hot water, and you would have to be careful to constantly hand agitate the quilt while it is in the water. You do not want any red fabric touching any white fabric for any length of time. The method for doing this is to first fill the top-loader with hot water, add Synthrapol towards the end so it is dispersed, stop the machine, add the quilt, hand agitate, then turn the knob to "spin" to spin out the wash water. Add rinse water, stop the machine, hand agitate, then advance the knob to "spin" to get rid of the rinse water. "Agitate" is really hard on a quilt; "spin" is not.

    The advantage to using a top loader is that you might have more water for dispersion of the dye particles. I think it would be a lot harder to do, though, than going to the laundromat. Just make sure that the laundromat has a really big front-loader; I would not use their smaller front-loaders. It's going to cost some dollars too, as those big front loaders take some coins for each washing. The amount of water is a safety factor, though, that is worth the money IMO.

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