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Thread: How do you prep your fabric?

  1. #1
    Member hautewife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Houston, TX

    How do you prep your fabric?

    Disclaimer: I can be "full of questions" so I am going to try my best to limit myself to one question a week. If I ask something that has been answered before, you won't hurt my feelings by directing me to previous posts.

    I've read many different views on pre-washing, starching, etc. I would like to do an open poll of the methods used to prepare your fabric before cutting. For example, do you prefer to pre-wash your fabric, air dry, and iron with no starch. I'm also interested in knowing your "why" you have these preferences.

    Being honest with myself, I can be lazy when it comes to these things (washing, ironing, etc). I just want to sew, already! However, if it will make a huge difference than I would certainly do any prep work necessary.

    As always, thank you in advance for your valuable wisdom.
    Live. Love. Laugh.

  2. #2
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Southern California
    I am bad and never have pre-washed because I don't want to be burden with all that pressing. Right now, I am working with strips so I spray starch them before sewing and cutting them into blocks.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  3. #3
    Junior Member Cathy77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    I don't prewash. I'm too lazy! There, I said it!

    But seriously, I asked the lady in my LQS and she said that it's not necessary any longer with new fabrics. However, if it is a very colour intense fabric (e.g. a red batik) she dunks the edge into a glass of boiled water, if it doesn't shed colour, you're ok to use it like this, otherwise pre-wash. She advised me to just iron the fabrics with lots of steam as it's apparently the heat that makes fabric shrink. I do that now.

    And if I feel that the fabric is a little flimsy and not stiff enough for my taste I also starch them (before cutting and sometimes when pressing seams as well). Also, when I know that I'll be working with bias cut pieces I use more starch.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Noblesville, IN
    OK, Fabric, this is going to be as painful for you as it is for me. Just bear with me and I promise in the end you will be a beautiful quilt (or a beautiful UFO, depending on how much you frustrate me!!) I find that a little pep talk really helps

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Essex, UK
    I'm completely hit and miss with my prep! Sometimes I prewash everything beforehand. Sometimes I prewash most fabrics but forget to prewash others. Sometimes I don't even bother to iron the fabric to get the crease lines out!
    I guess it all depends on how excited I am to get on with the project! Usually when I forget to prewash I will realise when I make the last cut of all the cutting out, and then curse myself!
    I've only had one major issue when the completed quilt is washed and that was from a black border that I hadn't prewashed. I've since invested in boxes of colour catchers and haven't had any other problems!
    I've not had much shrinkage in any of my quilts, apart from one that I meticulously prewashed every bit! Although I think that was probably down to the batting (even though I prewashed that too!)
    Fingers crossed I don't have any major issues in the future!

  6. #6
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Riverside Washington
    I always pre wash yardage. Why? some fabrics bleed (color runs) and some shrink. I use warm water with regular laundry det. and a color catcher, ( laundry product, designed to grab color from water, and hold it). Dry on med just like I would the finished quilt. I smooth by hand and fold for storage. When ready to use I Iron and use spray starch before cutting. Starching before cutting seems to make fabric easier to handle and keeps stretching on diagonal cut to a minimum. I do not iron before folding because I always iron before cutting to get out fold lines from storage and why iron twice? I do not like to iron!

  7. #7
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Rapid City, SD
    I prewash all my fabric -- if for nothing more than to get all the chemicals out of it. I dry it in the dryer but do not iron i. I then ruler fold it and put it in the right drawer. I iron the fabric just before I use it. Then I will also use starch. I'm not going to waste my time ironing right after washing if I'm going to put it away. It will need to be ironed before it is cut anyway.

  8. #8
    Super Member
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Ballwin, MO
    I pre-wash all fabrics in warm water, because I prefer working with clean (chemical-free) fabric, and because I don't like the idea of fabric shrinking unevenly after it's been sewn together; that seems potentially problematic to me. I don't pre-test my fabric for bleeding, though I think that's a good idea. I do group my fabrics for color when pre-washing, and use a color catcher for most loads (and they do often come out with quite a bit of color in them.) I dry the fabric in the dryer, then hand press and fold for storage. I press the fabric before cutting, using Best Press.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Lincoln. MI
    Blog Entries
    I pre-wash everything (except pre-cuts, which I actually don't use too much) in cool or luke warm water and dry on low heat. Before washing I zigzag the cut edges to reduce loose threads. Once dry I iron, using Best Press (Fresh Linen - I love the smell of that stuff) and then fold and put away until I'm ready to use it. I have always hated to iron, but for some reason I actually enjoy ironing new fabrics. If the fabric needs a little pressing before cutting I'll iron it again, also using Best Press.
    Of all the things I've lost I miss my mind the most!

  10. #10
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Blog Entries
    I do pre- wash every fabric with just a little detergent and no softener, gentle/ short cycle.

    Either dry in machine on low setting or hang outside (weather).

    I do not iron fabric at this point but straighten and fold it and put into stock shelf.

    I double starch on back, press on front ( starch & press - starch & press). I do this after I cut the amount I want to use off the main length of fabric. It just makes it easier to handle. Re fold the main piece and place in basket that goes with project. I like to keep all my fabrics for one project together in case I want to cut more.

    I also don't like to cut out an entire quilt at one time. What if I cut it all wrong!

    After the starch& press I will begin to sub cut the fabric into the pieces I need for the project.

    Why do I do this? It really does make the fabric easier to handle, controls fraying and distortion. The number one reason is because I like to play with fabric. It is all part of the joy of making a quilt. There is a meditation and calmness in doing these acts as part of the creative process. I love it.

    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

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