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Thread: How do you prep your fabric?

  1. #21
    Power Poster
    Join Date
    May 2008
    I serge or overcast the raw edges.

    I sort the pieces by color - then put them in hot water (as hot as it comes from the tap) and let the pieces set until the water cools down. I use pots, pans, sinks, etc. to put the pieces of fabric in.

    I poke at the pieces now and then to see if there is any colored water. If the water is colored, I look to see which piece of fabric is putting out dye. That piece will get extra attention.

    After I am reasonably confident that all this wet stuff will not share color - i put it in the washing machine with just a tiny amount of detergent and wash it either in warm or cold water on a short gentle cycle.

    Then I will dry it on "permanent press" or line dry it.

    Then I fold it and store it until I am ready to use it. The only time I iron a piece right after washing it is if it is really wrinkled. It usually is fine with "hand-pressing."

    I feel that agitation is what makes fabric look used/worn - so I try to keep that to a minimum. Don't over load the washer or the dryer.

    I feel that fabric should have enough body to not need starch/sizing to be usable.

    I do iron the fabric before cutting it. I usually iron it on the back - with the grain lines - it's easier to see the grain lines from the back.

    If I get a nasty bleeder, I will try to return it or discard it. No reason to stick someone else with a problem.

    Some people mess with Retayne, Synthrapol, and/or color catchers. I want my fabric to be user-friendly when the item is completed - I also assume that most people (that would get things I make) are just going to dump the quilt in the washer and wash it without worrying about color migrating/bleeding.

    I have measured hundreds of pieces before and after washing - to see if it was worth the effort. It is to me. Shrinkage has varied from none - to over 2.5 inches in width on a 42 inch wide "new" piece. I can't tell just by looking. I've had at least one piece of every bright color bleed. I've also washed many pieces of intense colors that left the water perfectly clear.

    I am not particularly phobic about yard/garage sale or thrift store pieces. But I will give them a sniff test before taking them home.


  2. #22
    Senior Member QuiltingHaven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    I wash my fabric when I bring it home. I use color catchers when washing mixed colored fabrics. I put them in the dryer with my woolie balls and run it on low for 10 minutes and then I hang all of the fabric on the clothes line. I have found over the 4 years that I have been quilting that if I have just gotten some fabric, I wash it in the next load of laundry, dry for 10 minutes in the dryer using my woolie balls to keep the fabric fluffed, hang in on the closeline. Otherwise, I wash batches if I am getting in the process of making a quilt. I have purchased fabric at garage sales (really good buys) and it stays in the garage as I slowly wash it. Yes, I know it is a lot of trouble but I think of where it could have been made, chemical allergies of family members, and want to make sure shrinkage won't be a problem (you don't want to know about the charm packs) and then I put a note on it washed and how much yardage is in each piece of fabric and put it on a styrofoam sheet (purchased at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon) cut in 10" by 5" pieces.
    Busy in Ohio

  3. #23
    Super Member franc36's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I'm another who does not pre wash. Until a couple of years ago, I serged the cut ends of my fabric and washed it. Then I started using lots of jelly rolls, layer cakes, and charm squares. Those, I did not pre wash, so I just stopped pre washing altogether. I like to work with very stiff fabric so I heavily spray fabric and precuts with a mixture of 2/3 Sta Flo 1/3 water. After starching, I put the fabric in a zip lock plastic bag which I keep in the freezer until I get around to ironing. This works for me. When I wash the quilt, I use color catchers.

  4. #24
    Super Member nunnyJo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Fl./ WV
    Blog Entries
    spray starch and press. like the feel of unwashed

  5. #25
    Super Member citruscountyquilter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Hernando FL
    Rarely pre-wash because I have never had bleeding, shrinkage etc and not doing it works just fine for me.

    Starch when I am cutting strips, bias or fussy cut or doing especially complex pattern.

  6. #26
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    western NY formerly MN, FL, NC, SC
    Blog Entries
    i always wash the fabric when it comes in the house. then, when i get the urge to make the quilt, it is ready for me. i also wash because i don't want any shrinking or bleeding issues later.
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak THINK
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?

  7. #27
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I pre-wash everything, by color, before I store it. Hot wash, warm rinse, minimal detergent, no softener, gentle cycle, fabrics only (no clothes, etc), and no more than 10 yards at a time. The gentle cycle prevents fabric knotting in the washer.
    I prewash for the following reasons:
    to remove the chemicals (formaldehyde, insect repellants, sizing, stiffeners, etc) so it's clean,
    to shrink the fabric so it doesn't shrink later on,
    to remove excess dyes so it doesn't bleed, run, or need to be forever washed with Color Catchers,
    to make sure the fabric is ready for fusing, painting, or dyeing if I choose to go that route spontaneously,
    to return the grain to it's normal position so what I create with it is accurate.

    I then trim any loose threads, shake the fabric flat, toss it into the dryer and proceed to dry on regular heat, no softener, on the setting that turns the machine off when the load is dry.
    I follow that routine because it has resulted in no fabrics knotting up in the dryer and no frayed edges (Kona Solids included) measuring more than an eighth of an inch for the many years I've been doing it.
    I fold the fabric and store it flat until I'm ready to use it.

    I iron, yes iron, the fabric following the grain, with or without steam and/or a water spray, depending on the 'wrinkleness', no starch at all, not ever.
    I do not use starch/sizing/Best Press/etc for the following reasons:
    to keep the fabric chemical and additive free for the same reason I pre-washed it,
    to keep the fabric in it's natural state so I can work WITH it, not beat it into submission,
    to keep the fabric on grain,
    to assure that the fabrics, when washed in the finished quilt, do not 'relax' from some shape they were forced into by starching,
    to assure that no bugs will be attracted to starched fabric that has to be restored for any reason (earwigs are a potential pest here).

    Fabric is flexible, pliable and supple by it's very nature. That's what I love about it and that's how I want to work with it. For me, it loses it's very spirit when it's turmed into cardboard. We each do what suits us the best and that's the way it should be, certainly when it comes to quilting anyway.

    WAY too wordy, sorry.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  8. #28
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I pre-wash for all the normal reasons - get rid of the bleeders, get the shrinking out of the way, and get rid of the chemicals. I then partially dry, sometimes in the dryer, sometimes not, and I press the fabric before putting it away. I have a huge stash, and pressed fabric takes less room and looks better. Sure I sometimes have to press again when I actually use it, but it's not as big a chore then. Think of pressing as petting the fabric and then it won't seem like work.

  9. #29
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Horse Country, FL
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by SueSew View Post
    Another vote for skip the pre-wash. If you have to starch and size it back up after washing what is the point?
    Don't shoot!
    I prewash to get out any dust or nasty chemicals that could trigger my allergies and start an asthma attack. I use unscented detergent, gentle wash, no fabric softener. Generally don't use much starch or sizing because of the smell. Also, prewashing takes care of the shrinkage and dye problems.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  10. #30
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    I don't pre-wash. Just put it in its color-coded bin when I get it home as it awaits its quilting fate. I've had virtually no issues with bleeding or weird shrinking when I wash the quilted items after completion. And I've even used quilting flannel in quilts and as backings, and I love bright colors. I've only pre-washed one time when I made a red and white wedding quilt for my daughter. She wouldn't have been happy with pink.

    When I use the fabric, I steam out any wrinkles. Usually only use starch if I absolutely need to do it.

    trying to stay grateful

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