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Thread: Wash or Not Wash

  1. #1
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    Wash or Not Wash

    I do a block of the month quilt and was wondering if it is better to wash all the small little fabric pieces before putting the block together. Some people say they wash theirs and others don't. An owner of a quilt shop told me fabrics nowdays do not bleed like they use to. So experienced quilters, I would love your opinion. Also, what about the rest of the fabric used in the quilt like the big pieces for the borders.

  2. #2
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    All I can tell you is what I do, and I do not was the fabrics I get for my block of the month. This is a popular topic here and each person has their own way. I don't routinely prewash any quilting fabric and haven't had any problems yet. Having said that, I recently needed to use a dark red for trim on an otherwise lighter colored runner and I did rinse it in warm water to check for running. It was fine, no running. I do wash finished quilts with a color catcher when completed. Also checking to make sure no seams are coming apart. To answer your last question, no I will not prewash the yardage for my BOM, either.
    Last edited by suern3; 03-16-2017 at 03:16 PM.

  3. #3
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    I don't prewash anything, and certainly not all those little pieces.
    Ageing is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been............David Bowie

  4. #4
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Agree with suern3. I'm not a prewasher except for flannel. There have been many discussions about it if you wa t to try the search function
    Alyce

  5. #5
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    Although I do at times prewash yardage I never prewash cut pieces. They might fray or shrink enough to cause your blocks to not go together. I've done many BOMs over the years and never had an issue due to not prewashing the block fabrics.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  6. #6
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I always wash and dry my fabrics as soon as I get them home. Always larger pieces.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    two quilt shop owners have told me the same thing--that most fabric doesn't bleed and to do a "test" first--I rub (very hard) white paper on the fabric and if NO color on the paper, then it's good--if a color (even a hint) I wash. I end up seldom needing to wash. I don't have issues with the sizing in the fabric so not allergy sensitive, although know quilters that must wash for that reason. I do wash my quilts in cold water (wash everything in cold) and use color catchers and rarely any color on them. I steam (heavy) my yardage before cutting so shrink it then.

  8. #8
    Super Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    Wash or Not Wash

    I don't do (or haven't done) BOM blocks and I don't buy pre-cut kits. That being said, I do pre-wash everything else. I've bought good quality cottons, and I can't vouch for what the quilt shop owners say -- all I can tell you, is that I've had a LOT of fabric bleed, especially reds. I test the fabrics for bleeding by placing a narrow strip (6 inches long) into the hottest tap water available and leaving it set for an hour or so. If the fabric bleeds, it will show up on an all-white paper towel dipped into the water in which the fabric strip was placed. The paper towel will show whether or not the fabric bleeds. I've also had some very deep blues bleed "like a stuck hog". If I have a fabric that bleeds, I treat it to "set" the dye. I use a product available online, and it is very effective. I recently completed a red and white log cabin quilt -- lots of reds and whites. I treated every piece of fabric in that quilt (120 X 135 inches), but I will still use color catchers when I wash the quilt. I just don't take risks -- I can't afford to. Also, another reason for washing -- I have asthma and it can be very bad, so I wash the fabric before I start working with it.
    Last edited by Jeanette Frantz; 03-16-2017 at 07:40 PM. Reason: correction

  9. #9
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    I almost never prewash fabric. The exception would be flannels. While it's really a personal preference, I would not prewash smaller pieces or precuts as they could fray.

  10. #10
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    Just going through a bit of this situation myself. Finishing up a UFO which is a 2013 BOM. None of the block fabrics are pre-washed as I don't pre-wash small pieces for fear they will fray too much and I'll not have enough. I normally pre-wash all of my yardage.

    For this project, I've chosen not to pre-wash the yardage I just purchased for sashings; borders; etc. I ironed my yardage (with steam and starch) to eliminate the fold crease so I could re-fold more on-grain. I usually do not have an issue with this process and my pre-washed and ironed fabric behaves very nicely after folding/hanging to get in on-grain. This time, not so much. When cutting strips for the first set of sashing I had several strips that were bowed a bit. Not enough to be unusable but still 'off'.

    My decision to not pre-wash the yardage was so that it would behave the same as the pre-cut pieces used in the blocks relative to shrinkage. Granted, that is mostly controlled by the batting used (in my case 100% cotton W&N) but still wanted all the fabrics to have the same shrinkage rate - or as close as possible given different manufacturers.

    Bleeding was not my concern as I agree with most of the other posters that most fabrics do not bleed they way they used to ages ago. We'll see how my next set of sashing goes in terms of getting it on grain with this process.

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