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Thread: Newbie Needs Help/washing question

  1. #1
    Super Member marilynr's Avatar
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    I am trying to finish a top that I made about 3 years ago. (Slow, I know.)
    Used remnants to piece this top, so not sure content of fabrics.
    I just added an additional 10 inches to each side in order to make it
    larger.

    Now I have purchased 100% cotton fabric (108" wide) to use for the
    backing. My problem now is, should I wash the backing? If I do, then should I also wash the top? If I do, I cannot imagine having to iron the top with all those little seams & tangled threads, oh, my!

    What is a newbie to do? Any help will be appreciated. Needing a little
    confidence building. : )

    Thanks in advance, Marilyn

  2. #2
    bj
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    Super Member bj's Avatar
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    I would probably go ahead and wash the back, but not the top. When you've got it quilted and wash it, it may have a little shrinkage, but that kindof gives it a vintage look. I always wash my fatbacks, but I don't usually prewash my fabrics, and have not had any problems (knock on wood!) so far. I'd be afraid the top would ravel too much and maybe even come unsewed. Good luck whatever you decide.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    Marilyn,
    That is a dilema. My first thought is that I think I would dampen the top and dry it. I also wouldn't want to put it in the washer and have a big mess. I know some put them them in lingere bags. I still think I would just dampen it to prevent too much shrinking later on. I think I would also wash the back. I only say this because with so many different fabrics I would be leary of not preshrinking it. I have never had to deal with this, but you may get a lot of opinions tomorrow that might help more than I can. Good Luck!

  4. #4
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    You've come to the right place for building your confidence. This place is great. Some people always wash (me), some people never wash, some people do a little of each. If you haven't yet washed the top and the bottom, I would go ahead as you are, and continue to put your quilt together. Others will have other helpful advice.

  5. #5
    Super Member Annya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfkitty
    You've come to the right place for building your confidence. This place is great. Some people always wash (me), some people never wash, some people do a little of each. If you haven't yet washed the top and the bottom, I would go ahead as you are, and continue to put your quilt together. Others will have other helpful advice.
    I wash all my fabric too.

  6. #6
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    Hi from Ohio. I wash all my fabrics in hot water.

  7. #7
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    I am a manic pre-washer...but that is of no use to you right now! I would wash the back as you know it's content and it may/may not shrink. If you have used remnants for the front, there is a good chance if they are not cotton, they won't shrink anyway...but if you washed...they would probably fray and become a tangled mess. So, be brave, leave the front as is, wash and press the back and then have fun quilting it. It will be a learning experience and I reckon it will turn out well in the end....and don't forget...WE LOVE PICS! Happy quilting.

  8. #8
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    If you haven't washed the top, I wouldn't wash the bottom. I'm a quilter who never pre-washes anything and I've never had any problems and I mix a lot of fabrics in my scrappy quilts. Both the top and bottom may shrink a little but they will be stitched together and can shrink together if they must. I don't see any value in just washing the bottom. You'll get lots of opinions on this one and I don't think that there is one correct answer.

  9. #9
    Super Member quilterella's Avatar
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    If you didn't wash the top's fabric before you made the top, then I wouldn't worry about prewashing the backing fabric. They'll shrink together once the quilt is finished. I never prewash my fabrics unless it's either a really deep purple or a intense red, and so far...so good! Good Luck, and please posts pictures when completed. We love both inspiration and admiration for our endeavors.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbie
    If you haven't washed the top, I wouldn't wash the bottom. I'm a quilter who never pre-washes anything and I've never had any problems and I mix a lot of fabrics in my scrappy quilts. Both the top and bottom may shrink a little but they will be stitched together and can shrink together if they must. I don't see any value in just washing the bottom. You'll get lots of opinions on this one and I don't think that there is one correct answer.

    Ditto

  11. #11
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    wash wash wash. Fab WILL shrink some but shrinks different
    %s and directions.

  12. #12
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I wouldn't wash it. Shrinkage is your friend!!! Shrinkage is not the enemy! When it's done and you toss it in the wash the slight shrinkage and puckering will hide a multitude of mistakes.

  13. #13
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    Ditto what Julie says. I prewash all of my fabric. First is to remove all the chemicals in the fabric, excess dye, formaldehyde, insecticide and the like. Second, fabrics do shrink at different rates some 1%, some 3% and some at much at 10%. Prewashing prevents the quilt from becoming warped as it is used.

    Some do not prewash because the "crisp" fabric is easier to cut. I have found that if I starch and press the fabric before cutting it cuts much smoother than non washed. Also, it seems like my rotary blades last much longer this way.

    If I am using a cotton batting or cotton blend batting, I mist the batting with water and throw it in the dryer with a wet towel. This removes all creases in the batt and preshrinks the batt as well.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bj
    I would probably go ahead and wash the back, but not the top. When you've got it quilted and wash it, it may have a little shrinkage, but that kindof gives it a vintage look. I always wash my fatbacks, but I don't usually prewash my fabrics, and have not had any problems (knock on wood!) so far. I'd be afraid the top would ravel too much and maybe even come unsewed. Good luck whatever you decide.
    ditto

  15. #15
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I don't prewash at all. If you quilt adequately in relationship to the batting, the quilting actually helps the sandwich not distort. I don't mind a little shrinkage (whatever is normal in fabrics) because it just provides the soft, old-fashioned "crinkle" look I like.

    In your situation, I might prewash the backing fabric, but this would depend on the fabric. Muslins and flannels can shrink a lot, so I would prewash. Most others are okay.

    Washing the top is likely to make a mess. The only way I would ever wash a top is if I first basted it to a foundation fabric (to prevent fraying of all the seams), then hand washed and air-dried.

    Whether pre-washing or not, it's a good idea to starch both the top and backing fabric before layering if you are planning to machine quilt. This helps prevents puckers. (Not necessary if you plan to tie the quilt or hand quilt.)

  16. #16
    Super Member GrammaNan's Avatar
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    Sew glad you found us! Welcome from Colorado.

  17. #17
    Super Member Annya's Avatar
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    [quote=crashnquilt]Ditto what Julie says. I prewash all of my fabric. First is to remove all the chemicals in the fabric, excess dye, formaldehyde, insecticide and the like. Second, fabrics do shrink at different rates some 1%, some 3% and some at much at 10%. Prewashing prevents the quilt from becoming warped as it is used.

    Some do not prewash because the "crisp" fabric is easier to cut. I have found that if I starch and press the fabric before cutting it cuts much smoother than non washed. Also, it seems like my rotary blades last much longer this way. (quote)

    I am using wool/cotton blend and I do not wash it but I do wash and iron all the other fabrics. I do wash the backing fabric as every thing I have had so far bleeds badly.

  18. #18
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    I don't prewash at all. If you quilt adequately in relationship to the batting, the quilting actually helps the sandwich not distort. I don't mind a little shrinkage (whatever is normal in fabrics) because it just provides the soft, old-fashioned "crinkle" look I like.

    In your situation, I might prewash the backing fabric, but this would depend on the fabric. Muslins and flannels can shrink a lot, so I would prewash. Most others are okay.

    Washing the top is likely to make a mess. The only way I would ever wash a top is if I first basted it to a foundation fabric (to prevent fraying of all the seams), then hand washed and air-dried.

    Whether pre-washing or not, it's a good idea to starch both the top and backing fabric before layering if you are planning to machine quilt. This helps prevents puckers. (Not necessary if you plan to tie the quilt or hand quilt.)
    I agree... your quilt is going to be beautiful, those crinkles just add an antique look to your quilt.

  19. #19
    Super Member Olivia's Grammy's Avatar
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    My rule of thumb is wash all or none. As some of the others have said the slight shrinkage makes a quilt look like an antique. If you haven't prewashed just be sure when you do wash you use the color catchers in case of fading.

  20. #20
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    I have been quilting since I was very young and never prewhashed my fabrics,have never been disappointed in my quilts when they were washed after many usings. It is your choice whether to prewash or not.

  21. #21
    Senior Member judithb's Avatar
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    I hardly ever prewash. Got that from an instructor. The material is so much easier to use. Then it all shrinks a bit and it is soft and comfy!

  22. #22
    Super Member quilttiludrop's Avatar
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    As long as all your fabrics are 100% cotton, the shrinkage should be somewhat uniform. Poly-cotton blends do not shrink.

  23. #23
    Member Betsydrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marilyn6
    I am trying to finish a top that I made about 3 years ago. (Slow, I know.)
    Used remnants to piece this top, so not sure content of fabrics.
    I just added an additional 10 inches to each side in order to make it
    larger.

    Now I have purchased 100% cotton fabric (108" wide) to use for the
    backing. My problem now is, should I wash the backing? If I do, then should I also wash the top? If I do, I cannot imagine having to iron the top with all those little seams & tangled threads, oh, my!

    What is a newbie to do? Any help will be appreciated. Needing a little
    confidence building. : )

    Thanks in advance, Marilyn
    Please do not wash the top without it being quilted into a sandwich. A woman I worked with did this when she was a newbie 4 years ago and it fell apart in the wash!!!!! If the back is just one piece of fabric, I'd wash it.

  24. #24

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    i have never ever prewashed any fabrics i use in my quilting. i do prewash fabrics for clothing - always. remember to let your batting "breathe" out of the bag and opened up for 24 hours before sandwiching. if you don't want to wait, throw it in the dryer for about 30-40 minutes so it can relax.

  25. #25
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    If you haven't washed the top yet, I would wait until you have finished the quilt. If there is a little shrinkage, at least it will all be at the same time and should be fairly even. I don't wash anything until I am finished and there is minimal difference in the two stages as to the presentation of the quilt.

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