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Thread: It's official......I'm allergic to fabric.............NOOOOOOOOO

  1. #1
    Super Member natalieg's Avatar
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    The doctor confirmed it this morning!!!! I went in for allergy patch testing on Wednesday. They even made a few patches out of some of my fabrics! They did the preliminary testing today and will do the rest on Tuesday. They said normally they don't see many, if any, positives on the preliminary because it is so soon and this is a delayed test. She took off most of my patches and I had blisters on the one spot where the chemical was for the fabric treatment!
    I didn't know that they use formaldehyde to treat fabrics....yuck! But, lo and behold, I am allergic to it! They said that normally people that have this allergy can wash their fabrics at least twice and then the allergy is not as active. So, in the midst of wanting to reorganize my fabric, I guess now I get to take it all down, zig-zag the edges and wash them twice!!!
    For those of you that pre-wash your fabrics, do you take them out of the dryer when they are barely damp and iron them, or let them dry completely, then iron them? I have tried both ways awhile back and they came out pretty wrinkled for me. Even stayed wrinkled after I pressed them. Maybe I washed too many, but I don't want to do a few pieces at a time, unless I mix them with regular clothes (hate having a half empty washer).
    I have heard that serging them is easier and better, but don't have a serger.
    Any suggestions???????????

  2. #2
    Super Member noveltyjunkie's Avatar
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    If you have a clothes airer it might be kinder on the fabrics, and it helps reduce wrinkling.

    Bummer about your allergy, but at least you know.

    Is it possible to buy fabrics that have not been treated in this way, or is it necessary to preserve the cotton?

  3. #3
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    I use a 2-thread serger, but I have been told a straight stitch works good as well as a zigzag.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Annaquilts's Avatar
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    Hi, I react to some fabric too. I wash them once on a normal cycle with warm water and detergent. Then I put them in the dryer and take them out when they are still damp to be ironed. Sorry. Hassle. I do not serge or do anything to the edges. I just trim the extra loose threads and often get help from one of my daughters with the trimming. You can also lay them on a cutting baord and lay a ruler on the edge and trim all the loose threads that way.

  5. #5
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    That sucks! At least you can still work with it after it's washed. I usually dry mine on regular dry and take it out as soon as the dryer beeps. I smooth it out by hand and fold. Pressing/ironing comes later when I need to use it.

    Hang in there and hope the blisters heal soon.

    BTW, I don't prep the pieces. I'd rather deal with the tangles. Not really a big problem for me.

  6. #6
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    Oh gosh--what a pain!
    I wash-but agitate it all by hand, but I don't know if that's such a good idea for you.

    If you don't overload the dryer, they shouldn't be wrinkled. Use the permanent press option.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    What a bummer!!! Hopefully washing it will help!!!

  8. #8
    Super Member natalieg's Avatar
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    I remember another question I had, they say that fabric that is mercerized or sanforized is ok, but when I look that up on google, I find gingham, but not anything else yet.....

  9. #9
    Power Poster littlehud's Avatar
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    How sad. At least you can wash it and use it.

  10. #10
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    From what you've said - you should avoid handling fabric until after it's washed.

    Is there someone that you could get to do all the washing for you?

    Overcasting/serging/pinking the raw edges does minimize fraying, but that's another time of handling for you.

    It also saves on fabric - with the overcasting - maybe lose 1/8 inch on each end - I've lost up to an inch on each end (on a very few fabrics) before I started overcasting the raw edges.

    I usually dry the fabric just until it's dry - don't overload the dryer - hand press it and fold it - then press it (with an iron) right before cutting it. (Like MadQuilter does)

    As you can tell - there is definitely more than one way to do things. :?

  11. #11
    Super Member Nanjun's Avatar
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    I clip the corners of new fabric and wash with a load of laundry.

  12. #12
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    A quilter being allergic to fabric is just terrible! So sorry! I damp dry my fabric and if I am using it to make a quilt right away, I then use Fautless Heavy spray starch, iron and fold. If I'm not using it, I don't spray the starch until I get ready to use it. I've heard that starched stored fabric will attract bugs. However i don't always like to pre wash; just depends on the pattern and fabric I'm using. Sure hope you find a good solution for you and may you continue to have many happy hours of quilting!

  13. #13
    Super Member grammyp's Avatar
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    I have not been tested, but if I handle unwashed fabric much my hands get dry and chapped. So I prewash all my fabrics. I also clip the corners to prevent the fabric raveling. If the pieces are small, I just iron them dry. If the pieces are large I remove them when dry, but still warm and fold them. I don't iron till I am ready to use the larger pieces (over a yard).

  14. #14
    Threads of Love's Avatar
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    I know how you feel, I must wash mine as soon as I get them home. But did you also know thatmost clothes you purchase is also shipped in formaldehyde? I have to wash everything that comes through the door.
    Good luck with it.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tortoisethreads's Avatar
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    Oh no, that is a bummer! Wash wash.

  16. #16
    Super Member annette1952's Avatar
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    I wash my fabric on delicate when I bring it home. I don't serge the edge. I just cut the few tangles off when it's done washing. Not a problem. I then dry on low & smoothe & fold when it's dry. Iron when I need it.

  17. #17
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    What a bummer!

  18. #18
    Super Member natalieg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grammyp
    I have not been tested, but if I handle unwashed fabric much my hands get dry and chapped. So I prewash all my fabrics. I also clip the corners to prevent the fabric raveling. If the pieces are small, I just iron them dry. If the pieces are large I remove them when dry, but still warm and fold them. I don't iron till I am ready to use the larger pieces (over a yard).
    So, just clipping the corners keeps them from raveling and fraying???? Cool, I will have to try this!

  19. #19
    Super Member oatw13's Avatar
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    That's too bad!

    Many new clothes and even sheets are also treated with formaldehyde and should be washed thoroughly before use.

  20. #20
    Super Member icon17's Avatar
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    what I do is use brass safety pins and fold the fabric in 1/2 even fold in 1/2 again if its large pin around the edges and wash this really cuts down on the wrinkles. keeps it from twisting up.damp dry
    Quote Originally Posted by natalieg
    The doctor confirmed it this morning!!!! I went in for allergy patch testing on Wednesday. They even made a few patches out of some of my fabrics! They did the preliminary testing today and will do the rest on Tuesday. They said normally they don't see many, if any, positives on the preliminary because it is so soon and this is a delayed test. She took off most of my patches and I had blisters on the one spot where the chemical was for the fabric treatment!
    I didn't know that they use formaldehyde to treat fabrics....yuck! But, lo and behold, I am allergic to it! They said that normally people that have this allergy can wash their fabrics at least twice and then the allergy is not as active. So, in the midst of wanting to reorganize my fabric, I guess now I get to take it all down, zig-zag the edges and wash them twice!!!
    For those of you that pre-wash your fabrics, do you take them out of the dryer when they are barely damp and iron them, or let them dry completely, then iron them? I have tried both ways awhile back and they came out pretty wrinkled for me. Even stayed wrinkled after I pressed them. Maybe I washed too many, but I don't want to do a few pieces at a time, unless I mix them with regular clothes (hate having a half empty washer).
    I have heard that serging them is easier and better, but don't have a serger.
    Any suggestions???????????

  21. #21
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    I found out about my formaldehyde allergy in my zoology class. It was unfortunate that the course was required (the hives cleared miraculously after it was over). Be careful, formaldehyde is a very common industrial chemical. It will often "out-gas" as things age i.e. insulation, carpeting, fabric dyes.

    Invest in a pair of pinking shears. I always prewash and never pre-iron because I iron just before cutting anyway. I have had good luck with small loads, drying in the dryer until completely dry when I'm really lazy and don't want to hassle but I really like using my "solar dryer" (a clothesline) for drying uncut fabric on large loads.

    My mother actually thought I had something high tech when I told her I was using a solar dryer. Got to love that part. :lol:

  22. #22
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    I clip the corners too when I wash. And I dry the big pieces of fabric separately because they do get wrinkly. I don't iron them though, I fold and smooth the best I can, I iron them when I'm ready to use them for a project because I'm usually cutting off sections of a piece, not using the entire piece.

    And yes, they do use formaldehyde, as well as sizing, in fabrics. Fabric is generally stored in warehouses before shipping and the formaldehyde kills any bugs that eat their way through the storage material the fabric is wrapped in. Bugs loooooooooove fabric. It's also a great preservative.

  23. #23

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    I am also allergic to fabric. I wash mine only once and this does the trick. I make sure my fabric is completely unfolded before I put it in the washing machine and make sure you get all the knots and wrap arounds lose before you dry it. I take mine out a little damp,then iron. I wash up to 4 yards at a time,anything else and I get wrinkles also. This may take awhile to do but it is well worth it.

  24. #24
    Super Member Rainy Day's Avatar
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    What about organic cotton? I find US manufactured cotton has less formaldehyde than Chinese manufactured. Organic has none.

  25. #25
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    Often the formaldehyde forms as dyes decompose. Organic is a term used to how cotton is grown (hubby's family are cotton farmers). There are a few genetically enhanced cotton strains that are colored but are very limited in color.

    Unfortunately for consumers, formaldehyde is usually not listed as an ingredient because it is used to synthesize a different chemical. Kind of like using LEGOS to build something like a LEGO house. You can call it a house but when you decompose it the thing turns back into LEGOS. This isn't the greatest explanation but my excuse is the late hour. I ususally explain organic synthesis when I can draw pictures on the board.

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