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Thread: Pre-washing fabric

  1. #1
    Senior Member Termi's Avatar
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    I am very new to quilting and when I started knew absolutely nothing. I saw a tutorial for a wall hanging using charm packs and
    decided I could do it. Since I've heard that pre-washing fabric is the way to go, I hand washed the charm packs and dried them in the dryer. When they came out of the dryer they were not square anymore and of course had all shrunk differently. Do any of you pre-wash charm packs or other pre-cuts? I had to re-cut all the squares. The tutorial made it look so easy, they used the charm packs without washing first. BTW, I've learned a lot from all of you, thank you.

  2. #2
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    I do not wash charm packs. For the very reason you found. If they are in the same pack they are from the same line of fabric, usually, and will shrink the same once the top is put together.

    HOWEVER, if you like to prewash put small pieces in a mesh bag or pillowcase and wash them that way. I've also put them in the sink in warm water and washed them by hand. Others like to wash on delicate in their washing machines. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Senior Member katiescraftshop's Avatar
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    Hand washing and wringing out the water may have destorted them. I pre-wash and dry everything. Smaller pieces in a lingerie bag. It's just how I prefer to do it.

  4. #4
    Super Member charmpacksplus's Avatar
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    Moda does not recommend washing the pre-cuts.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tilladare's Avatar
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    For those who DO wish to prewash their pre-cuts, may I make a suggestion? Instead of wringing or squeezing the water out, use a salad spinner!
    I have one dedicated to food, and another dedicated to wool, and am considering adding a third for fabric!
    (Which reminds me, I need to get busy cleaning the last of the fleece in the spare bathtub!)

  6. #6
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I never prewash fabrics. I do test for colorfastness if I suspect a fabric might be a bleeder. Saves me a lot of time, and fabric and batting (I use primarily cotton batting) crinkle up together in the wash. (I look the soft antique look.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Termi
    . . . When they came out of the dryer they were not square anymore and of course had all shrunk differently. . .
    Which is why I wash everything that is washable before putting it in a quilt or garment.

    It's also why I'm not particularly fond of small pre-cut pieces.

    It's amazing to me how much variation there is in the fabrics after washing them!

  8. #8
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I just want to mention that the different shrinkage rates of different fabrics actually don't matter when a quilt is closely quilted. This is because the quilting stitches that bind the layers together also prevent fabrics from shrinking overly much. This doesn't apply if quilting lines are far apart (say, 10" ). As long as you like the crinkly look, as I do, use primarily cotton batting (shrinks on average 3%), and quilt lines fairly close together (I usually do 2" but probably up to 4" is okay), then the variability in shrinkage of fabrics won't matter.

    The one exception to this may be flannel, if you are combining it with other fabrics, because flannels can shrink an outrageous amount compared to other fabrics. I once saw a quilt that Harriet Hargrave made to prove her point about not prewashing. She made a quilt entirely out of flannels that she did not prewash. She measured the quilt before washing and again after washing. It shrank the amount of the cotton batting (about 3%) but no more than that because the quilting kept the flannels tied to the batting. Washed by themselves, flannels can shrink 10% or even more!

  9. #9
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    I prewash for one reason only, to remove the chemicals in the fabric they put in there to deter mildew. When I was a new quilter, I would store my newly bought fabric on open shelves in my quilt room, only washing it right before I was ready to use it. I was getting headaches and feeling generally queasy when in my quilt room. I soon realized it was the accumulation of all the chemicals in the air making me ill. I took a few days to wash all my fabric and within a few days I was feeling much better. I always wash my fabrics the minute I get them home now and have never had any more trouble. That's my two cent worth! :D

  10. #10
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    A lot of us don't prewash. I almost NEVER prewash, especially precuts. I do prewash red, blue, and black flannel if it fails the hot water soak test.

    You can use the search function at the top of the page. You will find all kind of prewash/no prewash topics. It's kind of a which came first...the chicken or the egg topic.

    Welcom to the board. It's great here!

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