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Thread: HELP! I need help with washing my stash.

  1. #1
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    HELP! I need help with washing my stash.

    I have to wash my entire stash to remove whatever they put in it, to make it, that makes my hands feel like they have chemical burns. I got on line last night and spent hours looking for ways to wash it and hopefully not have massive thread tangles. I did find a youtube video that said if I cut off each corner, it would not ravel and have thread tangles. Wrong. I sat down and cut every corner off of every piece, and I just washed the first load, and spent 20 minutes cutting thread tangles loose. Am I doomed to this problem while I wash my entire stash? Just to give you an idea of the scope of this job, the green pile alone will take two loads, and since I have at least that much of all the 8 basic colors, and 4 cupboards full of larger pieces, this will take some time. Any wonderful ideas out there? Do any of you think using a pinking blade on all of it would help?
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  2. #2
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    Would it be possible to wear gloves when you handle your stash and wash what you need when you need it? That would take some of the stress of trying to wash it all right now. I was watching a Nancy Zieman episode filmed at a quilt show the other day and she was wearing a pair of white gloves that looked like cloth when handling the quilts. I'm not sure where to get them but the lady she was talking to about the quilts also had on a pair of the gloves. I always just do a zig zag on the edges of fabric before I wash it but that could be time consuming too.

  3. #3
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    The pinking blade MIGHT help but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. I guess I'm the only one who doesn't get particularly mussed about the tangled thread thing. I just snip a clump as I come to it and go on my merry way. Then again, I'm not doing that with a bazillion pieces of fabric either. THAT probably would get to me. Sorry I have no other suggestions other than possibly use the delicate cycle on your washer? Agitation is usually less intense on that cycle and might prevent some tangles???? Good luck.

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    I really don't have any suggestions for you. See I've wash LOTS of fabric and just dealt with the tangles that sometimes occur.

    I can recommend drying only a few 'yards' at a time so there's plenty of room in the dryer for the wrinkle to soften.

    Are you going to iron them right away? If so, don't dry the fabrics totally dry. That will make it a bit easier to iron.

    Good luck! Take your time.

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  5. #5
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    I have noticed that most of the strings/tangles occur in the dryer not the washer. So I have started just air drying my fabric on hangars after washing-letting them "drip dry". You may have too much to make this practical but works for me.

  6. #6
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I have the same troubles you have with the chemicals in the fabrics. Those chemicals caused me to develop open weepy, itchy areas on over 60% of my body. My legs looked like I was a burn victim. My hands were so swollen and reddened from the inflammation that I couldn't wear my ring and I kept them hidden when I was in public. I have now been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and psoriatic arthritis. I am on the Humira injection self administered every 2 weeks and a steroid cream to my hands twice a day. My dermatologist and I narrowed it down to the chemicals in fabric because I had recently returned to quilting after a 10 year hiatus. People have no clue how dangerous those chemicals are. I too had the daunting task of washing my fairly substantial stash. Pinking the edges worked well or running a zig zag stitch down the cut sides worked. It's a lot of work to wash a stash! I gave up. Now, I wash every fabric when it comes through the door. I still have unwashed fabrics in my stash. If I decide to use one of them, I just wash it prior to use. When I am using precuts or am having a flare up on my hands, I use these gloves. http://www.amazon.com/Dritz-82309-Cr.../dp/B002Y2GY7U. Mine happen to be lime green so I can locate them easier. Good luck and know that you are not alone.
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  7. #7
    Super Member PenniF's Avatar
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    I have found that the easiest and quickesgt way - though you will waste about an inch of fabric - is to sew the cut edges together making a fabric "tube"....takes a few seconds per piece of fabric........after you wash and dry it, cut away the stitched edge and press as usual.
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  8. #8
    Super Member NikkiLu's Avatar
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    I hand wash all of my batiks when I get home with them. I just use my kitchen sink and wring them out very gently (not wrinkling them much) and roll them in towels on my counters. Then I line dry them in my living room using a clothesline that my DH made for me - he put up hooks on two walls and I just loop my clothesline over the hooks. When the fireplace/insert is being used (in the winter) the air near the ceiling is very warm and so it doesn't take the pieces of fabric to dry. I do not iron the fabrics then - I just fold them and put them away and may have to iron them before I cut them out. They are not wrinkled much. HTH (Hope this helps)
    Nikki in MO

  9. #9
    Super Member athomenow's Avatar
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    What would happen if you put a piece or two in a mesh bag (or several mesh bags) and wash them like that? I also have washed material that I bought at a flea market or thrift store and just dealt with the tangles. I don't know that I could take on washing cabinets full at one time. Can you just wash what you're going to need for a particular project and not the whole lot? I don't have any good ideas!
    Debra

  10. #10
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    I have never tried this but a member in my modern quilt guild said she just washed 37 pounds of fabric and to keep the fray down She left the fabric pieces folded in half and machine basted the cut edges together. She said there were almost no strings, very few wrinkles and it was easy to pop the seams open after drying.

  11. #11
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    I was thinking mesh bags. It may take several to wash a full load. Lots of suggested solutions, all of them time consuming but then so is washing your entire stash. I will caution you, if handling the fabrics is causing an allergic reaction of that severity, be careful inhaling around such a concentration as that may cause problems also.
    Fay

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  12. #12
    Super Member ILoveToQuilt's Avatar
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    Madamekelly: so sorry to hear about your awful reaction to your fabrics! I don't prewash my fabric and find that when I have been sewing for a while, my thumb skin splits on either side of the nail. I wonder after reading your post if this is caused from the chemicals in the fabric???

    As to washing your stash, I would try the basting/sewing the cut edges to cut down on the fraying. Really small pieces I would use a mesh bag for.

    Good luck! Wish I lived closer, I'd come over and help you wash the stash! Hope you feel better and washing the fabric helps clear up your hands.


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  13. #13
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    I have heard that some people use a serger, BUT, that would mean handling the unwashed fabrics. Since I don't want to touch the unwashed fabric, I just throw the fabric in the washer and just live with the strings. I just don't worry about it. I always buy extra fabric so I can cut off the raw edges when I'm done washing and drying it. No biggie.

  14. #14
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Cutting off the corners never worked for me either.

    For pieces 1 yard or more in length, I would accordion fold (about 12" per fold) and then safety pin the edges together.

    For smaller pieces (1/2 yard or so) I would invest in some mesh bags and put one in each bag. (Check the Dollar Store first for these.)

    For fat quarter sized pieces I would be tempted to use mesh bra containers like this one:
    http://www.amazon.com/Woolite-W-8243...dp/B004K6L83I/
    although I bought mine at Walmart. They are great for machine washing bras and panties, and I think would work well for a fat quarter in each side.

    You could probably save money by making your own mesh bags -- purchase a couple of yards of mesh, wash it (should not ravel the way cotton fabrics do), then sew bags. Instead of zippers I would just make a 3-layer bag (similar to how one would make a pillow cover without a zipper, overlapping the flaps on the back) and safety pin the mesh bag closed before tossing in the wash.

    The mesh bags take up very little storage room and can be used for future fabric purchases too!

  15. #15
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    "For pieces 1 yard or more in length, I would accordion fold (about 12" per fold) and then safety pin the edges together."

    I agree with this and for smaller pieces I pin like colors together or roll my pinking blade over them. I use gentle cycle in washing machine and my dryer doesn't seem to "shred" them as bad as some dryers. I have soaked charm squares and strips in my kitchen sink and dryer them in a mesh bag. But you need to be careful with these. Perhaps not use precuts and just wash other as needed.
    Have a great day sewing and remember to "not sweat the small stuff"!!



  16. #16
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    I do think that serging or overcasting the raw edges is sorth the effort

    Could you get someone to do that for you?

  17. #17
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    My DIL and I went through this same problem year before last. The skin would literally peel from her hands. Luckily, I was able to serge all the beds for her. Maybe you too can find someone to do this part of the process for you.

  18. #18
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I overcast my edges on my sewing machine, but don't know how big your stash is. If you have a serger it will go faster. I only do it for embroidery stuff so don't know if I would do it for a large stash as it is time consuming
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  19. #19
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    I think fabric shouls be unfolded before washing to minimize possible fading along the fold line. You might want to double check those folds fr fading, anyway.

  20. #20
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    Well, I have decided not to wash my stash unless I'm making a baby quilt with flannel. Knowing that baby quilts will be washed a lot more than other quilts. Red fabrics can also be a problem which I try to stay away from. There you go, solved the problem at my house!

  21. #21
    Super Member hairquilt's Avatar
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    OMG-I sure feel for you girl!! Never thought about the chemicals in fabric causing my hands to dry out & peel. I'm going to buy mesh bags from now on to use! Thanks for the info. I learn So much from all you guys!! That's why I'm at my computer way too long with my morning coffee & The Board!

  22. #22
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    I use the delicate, extra light cycle on my machine and I don't have much of a problem with fraying.

  23. #23
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Hi Kelly - sorry you're having this problem. I was lucky in that I decided to pre-wash everything within a few months after I started quilting, so washing my existing stash was easy - I had very little. If I had to do it now it would be a huge problem. When I'm washing new yardage I usually just set the washer on gentle cycle and let it go, then partially dry in the dryer. I'm not overly concerned about the strings and either cut or rip them off. I have found that most of the raveling occurs in the agitate cycle of the washer, so if I'm washing smaller pieces I set the washer for the soak cycle only, with the lid up so it won't agitate, and then when it has soaked long enough I send it directly to spin. I repeat the soak/spin once more to rinse the detergent out of the fabric. That seems to eliminate most of the tangled threads. If I'm going to iron it within a day or two I dump the fabric into a basket, loosely stacked so the air can get through it, or if it's larger pieces I either put it in the dryer or lay it out on the balcony railing to dry.

  24. #24
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    "For pieces 1 yard or more in length, I would accordion fold (about 12" per fold) and then safety pin the edges together."

    A friend who is also a quilt pattern designer, quilt teacher and works in an LQS does this with all her fabrics. She unfolds the fabric so that it is full WOF, then folds and pins both top and bottom. She uses the largest pins she can find and likes diaper pins the best. She also pins parallel to the edge of the fabric. When the fabric comes out of the washer, she hangs the pieces with a pants hanger that has clips by clipping the safety pins. When the fabric is dry, she takes out the pins, folds it and puts it away.

  25. #25
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    Now I wash all quilting fabric as soon as it gets home. This way I know whether or not it is washed. I (now) always use the handwash cycle. this has cut down on strings so well I no longer pink or cut the corners, or anything else. It is basically a soak and spin wash without a lot of agitation. No pun intended. Works for me.

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