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Thread: Newbie needs advice...

  1. #1
    Member kholt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Mattoon, IL

    Question Newbie needs advice...

    I'm sure this has already been asked and answered multiple times on these boards, but I can't find it.

    When making quilt tops should I pre-wash my fabrics or not? Part of me thinks that I should to avoid shrinking later, but the other part of me wonders if it really matters.

    I'm using cotton yardage and making a QAYG baby blanket.

    Any suggestions? Preferences?



  2. #2
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    I wash everything. Since you are making a baby blanket I would definitely, since the chemicals that they use could cause a problem. Also if any bleeding happens your covered.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    May 2012
    leland nc
    you are going to get messages that are split between the two. i don't prewash, and i haven't had any trouble with the fabrics i use, but that doesn't mean that there won't be a problem in the future. there are some fabrics that will shrink quite a bit and others that will bleed. prewashing is a personal choice. i only use fabrics purchased from my lqs, so the quality is there.
    Last edited by rush88888; 10-13-2012 at 11:02 AM.

  4. #4
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Canadian in Minnesota
    I definitely prewash and dry the fabrics I use for baby quilts. Not only do I want to remove any chemicals, but the quilt will be washed and dried numerous times after it's assembled so I want to prevent bleeding and distortion. If a quilt will be used as a wall hanging, then I don't prewash because I want the over-bright colors and it will probably not be washed.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  5. #5
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Texas, USA
    It depends upon how much you enjoy gambling. 100% cotton fabric usually shrinks, at least a little (sometimes a lot). The color (any color) may or may not bleed. Depending upon whether or not it was wound on the bolt perfectly straight (before it was cut), it may or may not be the same shape, after washing. Some people swear they've never had a single problem, not pre-washing fabrics. Others have had quilts ruined, as a result of not pre-washing fabrics.

    I always pre-wash fabric. I like to know that when a quilt is finished, it can be washed/dried, without worry. I don't like the idea of having to use color catchers . . . or worse, telling whomever I gift with the quilt, that they must use color catchers! I've had quite a few fabrics bleed (quality fabric, not cheap stuff) and a few never quit bleeding, even after multiple washings! It does take a bit more time and effort, to pre-wash . . . but it's a lot safer, IMO.

    By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
    ~Richard Dawkins

  6. #6
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
    Blog Entries
    Have you tried using the "search" feature on the board? Because there have been lots of looooonngggg threads on this topic.

    I do not prewash fabric, but I do test suspicious fabrics for colorfastness before using. Shrinkage is generally not a problem if you do a moderate amount of quilting, as then shrinkage is controlled by the batting. In other words, the fabric will not shrink more than the batting shrinks. However, fabric shrinkage *can* be a problem if you quilt far apart or tie the quilt; in that case I would prewash for shrinkage.

    Aside from testing suspicious fabrics for colorfastness (drop small piece of fabric in glass of water and let sit overnight to see if dye bleeds into water, then rub damp fabric against white fabrics to see if dye transfers that way), I do a "first wash" of a quilt in a top-loading washing machine or laundromat front loader with Synthrapol and a few color catchers. Home front-loaders typically do not use enough water for this. The purpose is to suspend any unset dye particles in water so they are rinsed away instead of settling into other fabrics as bleeds. This is not enough if you have a bad bleeder fabric -- such as a red that gives up a *lot* of dye -- which is why I typically will test reds and some of the dark colors.

    Here are the advantages of not prewashing: (1) saves a lot of time, (2) fabric finishes keep the fabric more stable for cutting and handling. Aside from needing to iron a lot more if you prewash, it's also a good idea to starch the washed fabric to add back some stability for cutting and piecing.

  7. #7
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    S. Texas
    Yes please search on this board for that answer as have been lots of posts and I agree that quilters will never agree on the answer. Personally I do not wash but test dark colored fabrics by putting a small square in water to see if it runs. If it does i would wash. I have never had a problem. Your quilting will stop a lot of the shrinkage and personally I like the crinkled look.

  8. #8
    Senior Member sandilee's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    st. louis area
    The only fabric I prewash is flannel....and before I wash it I stitch around the ends of the selvage so it won't ravel in the machine.

  9. #9
    Super Member Bluelady's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Puyallup, WA
    I dont prewash. And so far, no problems! One exception is when I am doing block swaps, the rules say pre-wash. I have even backed my quilts with flannel, not prewashed. They shrink a bit more than plain cotton, but I didn't have a particular size the quilts needed to be. So it was all good!@
    I love the crinkly look the quilts get when they are washed after all the work is done.

  10. #10
    Super Member ube quilting's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Blog Entries
    You are going to hear many pros and cons on this subject. I wash everything from new yardage to scraps that people give me. It is a 'just in case' matter. All the time and effort you put in a quilt could be ruined in one washing due to shrinking or bleeding fabric and that would be a terrible thing to have happen.

    have fun and enjoy the doing.
    no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

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