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Thread: I'm confused- Wash the fabric or not?

  1. #1
    imjustme's Avatar
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    I have read alot of post but they say different things about washing the fabric. Some say they wash before they start a project. Some say they wash and iron then put away. Some say they don't wash until the quilt has been made. Some say they only wash red fabric. What do you do and why?
    thanks

  2. #2
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    i only wash the fabric when i'm going to use it.

    the fabric is treated to prevent mold and fading so i prefer to leave the fabric "as is" until i've decided to put it in a quilt.

    once i decide to wash it - i snip the corners off the selvage ends and i place the fabric in a pillow case and tie it shut. then i throw it in the machine to be washed.

    then i take the fabric out of the pillow case and put it in the dryer to dry.

    when thats done i hang the fabric on a clothes line and spray it all over with heavy spray starch. i have a clothes line in my sewing room that span the entire length of the room.

    i let it soak in for a few moments and then i iron the fabric.

    now its ready to be cut and used for quilting.


  3. #3
    Super Member b.zang's Avatar
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    Yeah, you've read so much you're confused, right? :?

    It seems to boil down to a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to not wash so that once washed as a finished quilt, it will develop that "heritage" look.
    Others will not wash because it will be a wall hanging and not subject to use.

    I prefer to pre-wash. My method has never been as thorough as KLue's, and from this point forward I will be following her advice. Maybe not [/i]all[i] that starch, though. I kind of like a softer feel.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Blue Bell's Avatar
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    Klue,
    I didn't know that fabric is treated to prevent mold and fading. I wish I had known, I would have waited to wash just before using it.
    Clueless Blue Bell (LOL)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Bell
    Klue,
    I didn't know that fabric is treated to prevent mold and fading. I wish I had known, I would have waited to wash just before using it.
    Clueless Blue Bell (LOL)
    yes but sadly the formula was changed about a decade or so ago so the fade resistance is not what it used to be - so please keep all fabric away from all sunlight until you decide to use it.

    a friend of mine lost 2 tubs of fabric because they were clear and the sunlight hit them everyday in her sewing room.

  6. #6
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    Welcome to the board, from Texas. I think this is a matter of preference and indoctrination.

    I don't wash fabric before I use it. Probably because that is the way I was taught. The quilter who taught me, and then became a dear friend is a professional who has made commission quilts and has owned her own business doesn't and told me it wasn't necessary. With a few caveats. Most dyes today are much more stable than they used to be, and the fabric can safely be washed in cold water without any problems. The exceptions are the dark/deep browns and reds. Test them first. The second is that I am a "traditional" quilter, and really like the slightly puckered heirloom look. I have never had a problem with any of the quilts I've made, pretty much all of which have been washed on a semi-regular basis. If I were as talented as KLue, and made the kind of gorgeous art quilts she does, I would follow her directions.

    Also, I've found that the sizing in the fabric helps stabilize it which is helpful when you are working with bias edges.

    And finally, I buy more yardage than fat quarters, and have been known to buy a whole bolt of a fabric if I really fall in love with it. My usual minimum is two yards! LOL. And I am really waaay too lazy to wash and iron that much yardage. I'd spend all my free time washing and ironing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  7. #7
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    I agree with Gaigai in that it is a matter of personal preference. I prewash and iron everything but I do it almost as soon as I get it. I have a dresser in my sewing room that contains my stash so no worries about fading.
    I do it simply because I prefer the feel of prewashed fabric when working with it. The puckered heirloom look can be acheived with cotton batting or a cotton/poly blend like heirloom. It will shrink slightly after the quilt is completed and washed giving that puckered heirloom look.

    FF

  8. #8
    farscapegal
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    I wash all of my fabric as soon as I get it home. A habit from years of making clothes I guess. If you make you something to wear and don't wash the fabric first and it shrinks, you are not a happy camper. So for me it is just habit.

    Sybil

  9. #9
    Moderator tlrnhi's Avatar
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    Some I wash, some I don't.
    I do, however, wash all quilts before I give them away.

  10. #10
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    I wash mine before it goes into the stash or gets used. I had an early (1980s) unfortunate episode with a burgundy running on me after it had been washed, It just takes one bad experience to make you learn. Even with today's fabrics, you find horror stories posted here at least once a month. or two.

    Lately, I've been working in orange and noticed the wash water had some dye in it. You can't always tell until it's too late. If you wash a quilt that was not made of pre-washed fabric, you risk puckering if the fabrics shrink at different rates.

  11. #11
    Super Member Joan's Avatar
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    I wash mine when I'm going to use it for a project. If I washed and ironed every piece of fabric I brought in the house, I wouldn't ever have time to quilt! :lol:

    I'm very careful with reds or any fabric (like batiks) that I think might run. Those I wash with a Color Catcher (made by Shout, you can buy in in the grocery store.

    I use fabric sizing (like starch) when I press the fabric. It is a wonderful product and helps to restore the feel of the sizing that gets washed out when you prewash it. Plus, it makes the ironing go faster and the wrinkles go away!

  12. #12
    Super Member sewjoyce's Avatar
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    I usually wait to wash until I'm ready to cut out the quilt. And I always use color catchers. I've found that navy blue fabric runs as much as red fabric....

  13. #13
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    I guess it depends on the quilt design and the fabric. Batiks are a yes mame I certainly do.... always. Some darker fabrics that I think might run ... yes.

    When I am going to b using a pattern that has lots of bias seams, usually no, I like the stiffer more stable fabric, as is. A wallhanging that will not get that much use... no. (seasonal)

    See where I am going?? It depends ...

  14. #14
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    It's personal preference.

    Once I learned that Harriet Hargrave doesn't pre-wash, I stopped pre-washing. I would consider pre-washing if I were going to make an heirloom quality quilt, but the fact is that my quilts are all meant for heavy family use. Harriet Hargrave tests each fabric for colorfastness before incorporating it into a quilt. Basically it is a matter of soaking a small square of fabric in a glass of water, checking the water color, and rubbing the wet fabric on white fabric to make sure no color rubs off.

    I test only fabrics I suspect might be terrible bleeders. Usually these are solid or almost-solid reds that don't look or feel quite right, or solid blacks. I haven't found any particular bleeding problem with batiks or prints.

    The precaution I take is to always wash the quilt with Synthrapol after it is finished. Synthrapol will suspend any unset dye particles in the water so they get rinsed away and don't have a chance to settle on other fabrics. If I see the wash water color, I do a few subsequent washes with Synthrapol too just to make sure that all of the unset dye is gone.

    So far no problem with this approach, and it leaves me more time to actually quilt. Otherwise most of my available time would be spent washing, drying and folding fabric.

    I like the heirloom look for my quilts (soft and slightly puffed) so shrinkage of fabric is not an issue for me.

  15. #15
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I don't wash material before I use it but I do wash my quilts in sythropol.....eliminates running

  16. #16
    Super Member beachlady's Avatar
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    I wash mine as soon as I get it usually, but after reading what Klue wrote I may do it differently! Thanks for that info Klue. Some of my fabric is in drawers, but a good portion of it is not. In the new house have all the built-ins, so may try to use most of those. I like the idea of the indoor clohes line too. That is something else I haven't always done - spray the fabric. This is one great learning place!

  17. #17
    MsSage's Avatar
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    I dont wash. If I have a red I will wash that. Yes I know it will shrink differently but I like the look of the quilt after.
    Realy its up to you. Everyone can give you all kinds of reasons to either wash or not BUT this is YOURS and no one knows what you like or feel comfortable with but you.
    Have fun and enjoy

  18. #18
    Super Member pittsburgpam's Avatar
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    I don't wash fabric until I am ready to use it. I get it and store it in my cubbyhole shelves by color or collection. I like that it is nice and neat when folded on the shelves unwashed. When I start work on a new quilt I wash and dry and starch all the fabric for it at once.

  19. #19
    Super Member Yarn or Fabric's Avatar
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    I prewash everything before I put it in my fabric closet. I got annoyed when I was making things that the one fabric that I decided I wanted to use THAT day was not prewashed so I would have to wait 2 hours to start my project so now I prewash everything....

  20. #20
    Senior Member QuiltMania's Avatar
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    I wash all fabrics either when I get them home or right before I use them. After I finish the quilting and binding, I wash the quilt. It shrinks a little giving that "antique" look.

  21. #21
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    I'm one who doesn't pre-wash. lol!!!! I wash after it's all done, and haven't had any problems.
    :-)

  22. #22
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    I wash it as needed.

  23. #23
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i wash as soon as it comes through the door, well before i need it. i don't know what chemical has been used or where it's been or who handled it.
    i zigzag the edges because i find the fewest loose threads that way. i dry at hottest to get the worst over with. if i see dye in the water, i go around again with synthrapol. i don't press until i need it - only flatten it when i'm ready to store it. if it's still warm , it flattens pretty well. i only press what i plan to use for that project. i never prewash batting. i want that to shrink for puckers.

  24. #24
    db
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    I wash mine before I use it for quilting or whatever, this way, there is no surprise or dissapointment if it shrunk or had some bleeding.
    db.

  25. #25
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    I've only been quilting a couple of years and did not prewash my fabric at first (advice of first teacher). However, I tend to prewash now, especially any darker fabrics. I use a Shout Color Catcher in the washing machine. You'd be shocked how much color bleeds to the Catcher. I do lop off the corners of the fabric before washing. I have a front load machine (no agitator) so I don't put the fabric in a lingerie bag or pillow case. Currently, my dryer is on the fritz, so I just hang the fabric. Good fabric doesn't wrinkle too badly, so I don't usually iron until I'm ready to use it. That way get the fold lines out along with any wrinkles.

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