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Thread: How do you prep your fabric?

  1. #26
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    i always wash the fabric when it comes in the house. then, when i get the urge to make the quilt, it is ready for me. i also wash because i don't want any shrinking or bleeding issues later.
    Nancy in western NY
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  2. #27
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I pre-wash everything, by color, before I store it. Hot wash, warm rinse, minimal detergent, no softener, gentle cycle, fabrics only (no clothes, etc), and no more than 10 yards at a time. The gentle cycle prevents fabric knotting in the washer.
    I prewash for the following reasons:
    to remove the chemicals (formaldehyde, insect repellants, sizing, stiffeners, etc) so it's clean,
    to shrink the fabric so it doesn't shrink later on,
    to remove excess dyes so it doesn't bleed, run, or need to be forever washed with Color Catchers,
    to make sure the fabric is ready for fusing, painting, or dyeing if I choose to go that route spontaneously,
    to return the grain to it's normal position so what I create with it is accurate.

    I then trim any loose threads, shake the fabric flat, toss it into the dryer and proceed to dry on regular heat, no softener, on the setting that turns the machine off when the load is dry.
    I follow that routine because it has resulted in no fabrics knotting up in the dryer and no frayed edges (Kona Solids included) measuring more than an eighth of an inch for the many years I've been doing it.
    I fold the fabric and store it flat until I'm ready to use it.

    I iron, yes iron, the fabric following the grain, with or without steam and/or a water spray, depending on the 'wrinkleness', no starch at all, not ever.
    I do not use starch/sizing/Best Press/etc for the following reasons:
    to keep the fabric chemical and additive free for the same reason I pre-washed it,
    to keep the fabric in it's natural state so I can work WITH it, not beat it into submission,
    to keep the fabric on grain,
    to assure that the fabrics, when washed in the finished quilt, do not 'relax' from some shape they were forced into by starching,
    to assure that no bugs will be attracted to starched fabric that has to be restored for any reason (earwigs are a potential pest here).

    Fabric is flexible, pliable and supple by it's very nature. That's what I love about it and that's how I want to work with it. For me, it loses it's very spirit when it's turmed into cardboard. We each do what suits us the best and that's the way it should be, certainly when it comes to quilting anyway.

    WAY too wordy, sorry.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  3. #28
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I pre-wash for all the normal reasons - get rid of the bleeders, get the shrinking out of the way, and get rid of the chemicals. I then partially dry, sometimes in the dryer, sometimes not, and I press the fabric before putting it away. I have a huge stash, and pressed fabric takes less room and looks better. Sure I sometimes have to press again when I actually use it, but it's not as big a chore then. Think of pressing as petting the fabric and then it won't seem like work.

  4. #29
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SueSew View Post
    Another vote for skip the pre-wash. If you have to starch and size it back up after washing what is the point?
    Don't shoot!
    I prewash to get out any dust or nasty chemicals that could trigger my allergies and start an asthma attack. I use unscented detergent, gentle wash, no fabric softener. Generally don't use much starch or sizing because of the smell. Also, prewashing takes care of the shrinkage and dye problems.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  5. #30
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I don't pre-wash. Just put it in its color-coded bin when I get it home as it awaits its quilting fate. I've had virtually no issues with bleeding or weird shrinking when I wash the quilted items after completion. And I've even used quilting flannel in quilts and as backings, and I love bright colors. I've only pre-washed one time when I made a red and white wedding quilt for my daughter. She wouldn't have been happy with pink.

    When I use the fabric, I steam out any wrinkles. Usually only use starch if I absolutely need to do it.
    Lori

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  6. #31
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    I have learned

    I no longer buy as many "precuts", I buy yardage and fatquarters.
    I wash all my fabric.
    I starch all my fabric (I spray it and let its soak in)
    I then press all my starched fabric.
    I prefer a heavy starch, it makes cutting and piecing much easier.
    It is more work yes, but for me it's worth it and I have much better results.
    I also take my time when sewing and I am happier with my results.

    YMMV
    Lisa

  7. #32
    Super Member Boston1954's Avatar
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    When I started quilting, I knew nothing and did not pre-wash. I pretty much just start cutting when I know what I want to make. Sometimes, I do not even iron, and hope for the best. (please don't tell the quilting police.) :-)
    Life is not a movie. No one is going to yell "CUT" when you make a mistake. - Anne L. Fulton

    I am from the South....39 miles south of Boston.

  8. #33
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    I don't pre-wash, unless the fabric is a batik, or unless I'm using the fabric for clothing, then I do pre-wash.

    I starch every piece of fabric I'm going to work with, at least 2 hours ahead of the time, throw it in a plastic bag, and let it sit, then I'll take it out, either line dry or throw in the dryer for a few minutes, then iron, have never had a problem with the iron getting all gunky then, I do spray mist with water since I don't use the steam on my iron,
    when your iron gets all gunky, it's because when you ironing instead of ironing the fabric, you were ironing the starch.
    Last edited by pocoellie; 08-25-2014 at 06:24 PM.

  9. #34
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    I have been making quilts since about 1976, and I have never pre-washed my fabric. I always press it and some times I use sizing. I have never had a fabric bleed when the quilt was washed. I have never used Batiks.

  10. #35
    Super Member Cybrarian's Avatar
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    I'm another mixed answer :-) I prewash flannel and dark heavily dyed fabrics. I don't buy fabric at garage sales etc, not that I wouldn't, just don't have time. I steam and starch before cutting, and use mainly Best Press during piecing. Use color catchers when washing quilt after.
    Come to Me and I will give you rest--Jesus.

  11. #36
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    I am also lazy, and I only prewash stuff I will embroider, other than that never wash, too lazy to iron. I never used starch until a year ago and now never live without the stuff. There is no right or wrong it is just simply a preference people have been doing it just fine both ways for years. Me personally don't think it makes a big difference because batting controls shrinkage and even if you prewash you will still get some shrinkage
    Brother XL-3500i, SQ-9050, Dreamweaver XE6200D, Juki MO-2000QVP

  12. #37
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    I pre-wash everything (even those Fat Quarters that say not to pre-wash) in Tap Water Cold on the shortest Handwash cycle in my washer with a small amount of Tide Free & Clear (no bleach, no fabric softener) & then dry them on Low or No Heat.
    Then, after they have completely dried (some need to sit on the drying rack for a bit), I starch & iron them.

    Since I work almost entirely with baby quilts, I want to do as much as possible to get out any extra dyes or chemicals before passing it along to the baby. I figure between pre-washing, soaking to remove markings & washing again 1-2x once it's quilted I've given it my best effort to provide the safest quilt I can.

    That said, I know Art quilters that wouldn't dream of washing fabrics ever! So I guess it's a matter of personal preference & a bit of how you plan to use the quilt. If it's going to be washed quite often -- especially if you're making it as a gift & the recipient may well go ahead & wash the quilt in warm water & dry it on medium heat -- I really would recommend pre-washing to help shrink the fabrics some before quilting (since fabrics can shrink at different rates), but if the quilts are for you or someone who will take special care when washing them, go ahead & get right into the quilting!
    Last edited by Bree123; 08-25-2014 at 07:24 PM.

  13. #38
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bree123 View Post
    That said, I know Art quilters that wouldn't dream of washing fabrics ever! So I guess it's a matter of personal preference & a bit of how you plan to use the quilt.
    On the other hand, all the art quilters I know, myself included, always pre-wash their fabrics in order to prepare them for dyeing, painting, printing, fusing, stamping, discharging, and so on. The chemicals on commercial fabrics prevent all those things from forming a proper bond with the fibers of the cloth so they need to be removed by washing before most surface design techniques are used. It's their finished quilts that seldom, if ever, see water. As you say, it all depends on your plans for the quilt, both during and after construction.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  14. #39
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    There's never a shortage of discussion on this topic .

    I prewash everything for the following reasons:

    -peace of mind (don't want any disappointments from bleeding or shrinkage once the quilt is made or washed)
    -cleanliness (some warehouses and shipping containers have bugs)
    -more time to pet my fabric
    -more likely to remember what I bought than if I bought it and stored it away till ready to use

    The best prep I found for peace of mind is this recipe from the Amish, given to me by LQS owner (who admits to only using this method on really dark colors because she is too busy making quilts on her days off).

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/links-r...g-t237701.html


    That said, I preSOAK each new piece of fabric in the bathroom sink. Sometimes I'm surprised at which colors run. If a color keeps running after a few soaks, I don't use it.

  15. #40
    Super Member Bree123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider View Post
    On the other hand, all the art quilters I know, myself included, always pre-wash their fabrics in order to prepare them for dyeing, painting, printing, fusing, stamping, discharging, and so on.
    Maybe you're right. Could have simply been a misunderstanding on my part.

  16. #41
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    i wash fabric in a cold water with free and clear detergent and a color catcher, dry in the dryer on high, and fold as I take it from the dryer. I tie a piece of selvage around the folded fabric, put an address label on the selvage and mark the length of the fabric piece for future reference. Fabric is ironed when I am ready to use it.

    I don't use starch because of allergies.

    Washing removes allergens, chemicals, an odors from the fabric and that makes a huge difference to me. Unwashed fabric literally makes me sick!

    Other than the 'health' preparations, I don't do much to my fabric before using it.

    PS: Another reason i wash fabrics - I assume that every piece of fabric has been stored in a place that has bug problems. That does not necessarily mean that the place I bought it from had the problem. It means that somewhere between factory and my home it was in a less than pristine environment.
    Last edited by cathyvv; 08-25-2014 at 08:30 PM.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  17. #42
    Member Silvia75's Avatar
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    The to wash or not to wash question is probably the most "controversial" question in the quilting world. Some are vehement washers, stating the colors of the fabric will run, it will shrink too much after being quilted and washed, etc. And the other camp of non-washers say there is little shrinkage or color bleeding in good quality fabric and that post-quilt washing shrinkage gives a quilt a vintage look.
    probably the best advice I've heard: I you think the quilt will be used and washed often, pre-wash fabric. If it is a wall or decorative quilt, don't bother.

  18. #43
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    I have never pre washed, my excuse is that I buy good quality quilting materials so they should be OK and have never been let down. In the past couple of months I have started using starch after seeing it on this forum and do wish I had used it before, to me it's magic and the benefits are many.

  19. #44
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    My process as well.....seems to serve me OK. I do agree that fabrics are better quality (LQS fabrics anyway) are more dependable than they used to be, but I get burned only once!! That has happened and it won't happen again!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gramie bj View Post
    I always pre wash yardage. Why? some fabrics bleed (color runs) and some shrink. I use warm water with regular laundry det. and a color catcher, ( laundry product, designed to grab color from water, and hold it). Dry on med just like I would the finished quilt. I smooth by hand and fold for storage. When ready to use I Iron and use spray starch before cutting. Starching before cutting seems to make fabric easier to handle and keeps stretching on diagonal cut to a minimum. I do not iron before folding because I always iron before cutting to get out fold lines from storage and why iron twice? I do not like to iron!

  20. #45
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    First off - I only buy fabric for specific projects - not a stasher here. Usually only buy yardage. I am also a pre-washer. Probably a hangover from garment days BUT my reasons are as follows:

    Yes, bleeding/shrinkage can occur. I'm really not overly concerned with the shrinkage factor. I use 100% cotton batting which I do not prewash, so my quilts are going to shrink when completed anyhow. Bleeding - yes, that's a reason to wash.

    I wash my fabrics in the machine, warm water; detergent; no fabric softener. Dry in the dryer until completely dry. I am a firm believer that the way the fabric is folded/wound onto the bolt is nowhere near close to being on-grain. I like to work with my fabric as close to on-grain as possible. I think you get more accurate cuts and then sewing as a result.

    I also iron my fabrics with starch. Have migrated to Sta-flo 50/50 with water. Use in a spray bottle and mix a bit at a time. I use starch on either front or back, don't really care. I find that if I let the starch absorb into the fabric for at least a few seconds there is no flaking when ironed. Generally don't get very heavy handed with the starch unless I'm working with really small pieces or bias edges.

    When I go to press my fabrics I spend a reasonable amount of time hanging/wiggling my selvage edges together to get the unironed piece of fabric as close to flat as possible. Then I lay it flat on my ironing surface (in my case, my craft table covered with folded towels) and smooth until the fabric is as flat/smooth as possible. I usually start in the center of my yardage, pin if necessary to hold in place if I'm dealing with a large amount of fabric. Work my way out to the ends smoothing and then iron with starch. Thats the point where I square off my end to start cutting the balance of my pieces.

    I find that taking the time going through this process yields in much more accurate cutting. When your cuts are more accurate, your sewing becomes more accurate - at least it does for me.

  21. #46
    Senior Member rj.neihart's Avatar
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    I am one who is anal about my material - it's washed and dried and ironed before it goes onto my shelf for future use. The house smells better and my shelves usually look great. It just feels better to my hands when I can grab a color I need, knowing it's all cleaned and ready for my artistic abilities to thrive.

  22. #47
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    I do not prewash, nor do I starch. Purchased fabrics usually have plenty of sizing in them. If you are using fabrics from clothing, just be aware of buttonholes, places where buttons were sewn, lines where a hem was folded, etc. and go for it. When I am ready to make a project I find the fabric I want and head for the cutting table and get on with it. I've been quilting for 60 years and never had a problem.

  23. #48
    Junior Member Madan49's Avatar
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    Being known for all the charity quilts I do, I get "gifted" with a lot of fabric scraps and boxes of fabric that people no longer want from their stashes. This being the case, I never know what has been washed and what hasn't. It just makes good sense to stay in the habit of washing EVERYTHING, so that it's all consistent. But, truth to tell, I would pre-wash even if it were just my own fabric. I like knowing there won't be future bleeding or shrinking going on when I've done all that work on a finished product. I use starch if I think it needs it, but just spray water if that's enough. I seldom use steam in my iron... even my very expensive iron tends to leak after a while... and spray bottles are cheap. I don't iron my fabric straight out of the dryer.... I fold neatly and put it away, and then iron (yes, iron, not press.. go ahead and shoot me....) when it's time to start cutting it.

  24. #49
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    Boy, you did open a can of worms with this one. My addition is that I pre-wash everything for all of the pre-listed reasons. I do buy yard sale fabrics, so previous storage can be an issue. Also, because while working on a Log Cabin block, using un-prepped fabric, one strip shrunk so bad it pulled from the seam under the iron. So, pre-wash and dry like I intend it to be used for once finished, starch before cutting (keeps it's shape better, especially on the bias), pre-wash and dry the batting, then wash and dry again, once the project is finished. This gets rid of any residue from starch, glue basting and general handling.

  25. #50
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I always wash and dry all my fabric. I fold in half lengthwise and fold with my ruler. If I do it very neatly it only needs to be ironed on the tighter folds. I buy 4 - 6 yard pieces.
    Another Phyllis
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