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Fabric shrank-- before my eyes!

Fabric shrank-- before my eyes!

Old 04-09-2011, 07:08 AM
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I admit that I don't prewash most fabric, but I've never had a problem. Today's experience may change that!

My bff and I enrolled in a 4 hour class at LQS. When we enrolled, we got 20% off all purchases that day. So I purchased fabric for the project, a Rapid Hunter's Star wallhanging. I chose My Asian Garden by Ro Gregg, a quality fabric. It's different for me, especially as it has that metallic gold on it. Even with the discount, it wasn't cheap.

This morning, I was cutting for class, 16 - 6" blocks to be cut diagonally. So since bias edges are challenging for me, after I cut the blocks, I spritzed them with Mary Ellen's Best Pressed and pressed them dry.

When I laid them out to make the diagonal cut, they were 6" x 5.75". I assumed I had cut my strip too narrow. I carefully cut another strip and 6" blocks (from fabric for the border). Again, I spritzed and pressed. Guess what! They were small again! So I did an experiment. After carefully cutting one block, re-measuring, spraying, & pressing, I measured it. The fabric had shrunk!

Has anyone else had this experience? I can't believe I lost 1/4" off every 6" block! Is this complaint-worthy? Do I tell the shop owner? Maybe it's common and I've just been lucky up till now?
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:16 AM
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I had a queen size finished quilt shrink nearly 8" all around. It caught me off guard too.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:22 AM
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Starch and press BEFORE you cut. I never prewash, I have seen some fabrics shrink as I am spraying them with starch! I always starch before cutting for this exact reason. Wasting expensive fabric!
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:23 AM
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Wow, I'd been freaking out about it.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:23 AM
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I have had it shrink right on the ironing board , yep just like you spritzed it and could literally watch it shrink.
It typically has happened to me with cheaper fabrics, and have gotten to the point where I can almost predict which one will , but every once in a while one I paid big $$$ will surprise me and shrink dramatically while I'm ironing it.
Most times I starch, iron then cut but ... sometimes when I don't ... Surprise... then I kick myself.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:24 AM
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I had a same experience. I went back to the quilt shop and read the bolt end. Sure enough....it had a high percent poly and the heat from the iron shrank it. I adjusted my seams to compensate for the 1/4 inch loss and finished the top. I have yet to quilt it. Guess this one will stay here....the dogs will appreciate it.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:25 AM
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While it seems complaint worthy, did you read the care instruction on the end of the bolt? If you over-looked that little piece of information, you probably will not be compensated for your loss. If it is not printed I would request a refund, or credit or new fabric all together.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:34 AM
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I'm in the prewashing group, so I haven't experienced fabric shrinking in front of my eyes! It's interesting to note, though, that the fabric didn't shrink evenly - that is, it was still 6" in one direction, but not the other.

I often use starch after I prewash, but like justwannaquilt, I starch BEFORE I cut, not after.

I personally don't think it's complaint worthy - cotton fabric is known to shrink, so you really do take a chance if you use it without prewashing. It's not the fault of the LQS or even the fabric manufacturer - it's just the nature of the fabric.

I did report back to my LQS regarding one fabric - it was a beautiful deep purple floral. When I washed it, it bled. Same thing happened the second, third, fourth, and fifth times I washed it! At that point I decided not to use it, but I did let the LQS know about it so they could warn others to use necessary precautions when using that fabric in a quilt.
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:44 AM
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I had this happen one time with top quality LQS fabric. I cut the large squares and then starched and pressed. The fabric shrunk over 1/2" and didn't even shrink evenly around, just got all wacky. It was 100% cotton too. The shop was too far away to return the fabric so I washed it in hot water, ironed it dry and used it for small projects. I did contact the shop and was told no one else had complained about it. I wonder how many quilters were so frustrated thinking they were cutting wrong.
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by justwannaquilt
Starch and press BEFORE you cut. I never prewash, I have seen some fabrics shrink as I am spraying them with starch! I always starch before cutting for this exact reason. Wasting expensive fabric!
Sounds like you learned the same way I did. I am now a fervent believer in pre-washing and starching almost everything.

I have had many fabrics shrivel up before my eyes as I was pressing them and some (the really cheap, thin ones) would shrivel even more as I was piecing & pressing. Now I turn my iron all the up and press everything before I make a cut. If it's just squares--I don't worry about the starch but if any of the fabric is going to be cut on the bias--It gets starched and I don't care if it came from the $1 table at Walmart or fresh out of the Moda factory at the $10 LQS.
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