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Thread: PRE-WASHING FABRIC

  1. #1
    Senior Member kacklebird's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I was reading a few posts where some of the members say that they don't pre-wash their fabrics. Wouldn't washing it and drying it beforehand prevent it from shrinking? I would fear when I washed and dried the quilt for the first time it would shrink and the quilt would be all out of shape.

  2. #2
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Normally I am a pre-washer because of my allergies. When I work with precut fabrics, I don't prewash. I recently completed a quilt that was made from a layer cake that was not prewashed. When it was finished and I washed the quilt, it came out awesome! So soft and crinkly how I like them. I was very pleased. It was LQS quality fabric, not sure if that makes a difference. Some of my older stash seems to shrink more than the newer better quality fabric I have.

  3. #3
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    I am a washer. I have never used charm packs or layer cakes because I can't wash it first. I have seem too many fabrics bleed and run--especially the 100% cottons--plus the shrink factor, which you mentioned. I just do not want to put so much money, time and effort into something that will be ruined in the first wash. And since I rarely make wall hangings, I expect my quilts to be used, abused and washed.

  4. #4
    Super Member kiffie2413's Avatar
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    I usually don't pre-wash if I buy the fabric from my lqs, or if it is pre-cut...unless there is a noticeable odor, or a bold color, such as red. I do pre-wash if I am not sure where it is from ( like from estate or garage sale, etc...). I also pre-wash flannels, as have been told they do shrink, and it would be a big deal...
    I also agree with katier825, I love the quilts after washing-soft and crinkly...gives them the vintage look and feel...

  5. #5
    Super Member rwquilts's Avatar
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    I have been on both sides of this issue. I started out pre-washing and then from the advice of the quilt store I loved, I stopped, and had that nice old crinkly feel and look that I love...but most people on the board here in their swaps and such require pre-washing, so I started washing again, and am in that mode currently! I think it's a "Chevy/Ford" kind of thing...

  6. #6
    Super Member Lilrain's Avatar
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    I usually prewash. The reason being is that I have had a couple of problems myself and seen others with much bigger problems from not prewashing.

    If something bad is going to happen with the fabric, I would much prefer it happened before I put many many hours into the quilt.

    If I am using cotton batting I preshrink it also. I do not want to give a quilt to someone and have them think they did something wrong when they wash it and it is puckery. I am one of those that does not like that look.

  7. #7
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I PREWASH: batiks, reds, blacks, deep colors, larger pieces of fabrics, anything I am giving away... so almost all of my fabrics.

    I DON'T PREWASH: panels, precuts (both rarely purchased)

    I don't know where the fabric has been or if it will shrink unevenly or bleed.

    Originally I didn't prewash but on the advice of others, I have changed my ways.

  8. #8
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    It's an age old quilter's question. Love the Chevy/Ford reference! Do what makes it fun for you. There are successful quilters on both sides of the fence.

  9. #9
    Super Member cherylynne's Avatar
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    I prewash very few pieces of my fabric. If it seems to be poorer quality, I might put it in the washer and dryer. When I wash the quilt everything seems to look nice and square. Crinkly, but that's how I like my quilts.

  10. #10
    Super Member SherriB's Avatar
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    I seldom pre-wash my fabrics. I also like the crinkly look I get when I don't pre-wash. But if I am afraid the color will bleed, I do pre-wash and try to prevent further bleeding of color.

  11. #11
    Junior Member gaevren's Avatar
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    I pre-wash everything for three reasons:

    1. Bleeding potential- I'd rather not worry about it!
    2. Chemicals in the fabric. I'd rather wash them out first thing!
    3. That crinkly look- I really am not a fan of it.

  12. #12
    Super Member brushandthimble's Avatar
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    I usually pre-wash, but have gotten out of the habit.
    Made a bag for a b'day gift, did not pre-wash and it ran when she used it in the rain. LQS fabric.

  13. #13
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
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    I seldom pre wash unless it's red or a bold color. Never jhad a problem yet.

  14. #14
    Super Member caliquocat's Avatar
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    I pre wash my fabric in case of shrinkage, bleeding or finishes causing any problems. When it's stored in my closet, I know it's clean & ready to use.

  15. #15
    Senior Member quilt-fanatic's Avatar
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    Pre-wash and iron is just another way for me to play with my fabric! Also allows me to see if some are too thin and replace it for a certain project.

  16. #16
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    I usually prewash, too, except for using precuts. Recently,when I was in a quilt store, I was speaking to the owner about mixing unwashed precuts with fabric I had already washed, because I was worried about uneven shrinkage. She told me that cottons don't shrink as much as they used to due to the production process, which is why fabrics have gone from 44" to 42" in width. I have combined prewashed and precuts in quilts, with no problems. (And I will always prewash yardage, just because I like working with it better!)

  17. #17
    Super Member Dodie's Avatar
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    I always prewash as I have ran into problems when I didn't I did a block of the month Eleanor Burns applique in a day with precut pieces and after all that work it bled really bad and besides I do not like the chemicals I never do exchanges for this reason just my idea

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GingerK
    I am a washer. I have never used charm packs or layer cakes because I can't wash it first. I have seem too many fabrics bleed and run--especially the 100% cottons--plus the shrink factor, which you mentioned. I just do not want to put so much money, time and effort into something that will be ruined in the first wash. And since I rarely make wall hangings, I expect my quilts to be used, abused and washed.
    What she said : )

  19. #19
    Super Member jpmaroni's Avatar
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    I've seen beautiful quilts ruined with colors running. I spend too much money and time to ruin something precious. I starch when needed to give stability to fabric. From what I gather, that's the reason some have not to wash.

  20. #20
    Member fudge and furs's Avatar
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    I always pre wash. Same reason as most that do. However my washing machine does not have a gentle cycle so I fill the machine using regular cycle for a very short time. :idea: With long lengths of fabric, not on the selvage edge, but the cut edges I sew across with a fine stitch before washing. This keeps the raw edges from unraveling during the wash cycle. Then I also have poured water into my clean bathtub with liquid gentle laundry soap, swished it around a lot, put the fabric in the washer to spin, swish the fabric in clean water and back to the washer to spin. Small pieces, ie: half yards are hung on a drying rack. Extra work, but saves the fabric.

  21. #21
    Super Member Deb watkins's Avatar
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    I seldom pre-washed in my 'earlier' quilting days. However, with making the NICU quilts, prewashing is a must, and I host and participate in several swaps - prewashing is a must, and I find that I am beginning to use more reds and rusts in my blocks - scared of the dreaded 'run'...I also notice that when I do wash, the fabric weave seems to be a bit tighter and when I starch...it works just so much better...for me anyway.

  22. #22
    Member fudge and furs's Avatar
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    I always pre wash. Same reason as most that do. However my washing machine does not have a gentle cycle so I fill the machine using regular cycle for a very short time. :idea: With long lengths of fabric, not on the selvage edge, but the cut edges I sew across with a fine stitch before washing. This keeps the raw edges from unraveling during the wash cycle. Then I also have poured water into my clean bathtub with liquid gentle laundry soap, swished it around a lot, put the fabric in the washer to spin, swish the fabric in clean water and back to the washer to spin. Small pieces, ie: half yards are hung on a drying rack. Extra work, but saves the fabric. Sorry about the duplicate message. :-(

  23. #23
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    This very topic was the subject of today's Quilting Newsletter. You can sign up to get these with the link at the very top of the page... For those of you who didn't see it, this is what it said:
    **********************************
    Pre-washing fabric

    There is quite a lot of discussion in the quilting community concerning pre-washing fabric or not pre-washing fabric. Many quilters are certain there is no need to pre-wash fabric and as many quilters insist that fabric must be pre-washed.

    I pre-wash all fabric, backing, cotton batting, and flannel before cutting. I will list some of the reasons I pre-wash my fabric.

    1.Pre-washing removes sizing and other chemicals left in the fabric during manufacturer. Some may have allergies to new fabric.

    2.Pre-washing shrinks the fabric so the quilt won't shrink unevenly in later washings. Each fabric will shrink at a different rate and this could cause lumps and unevenness in the quilt. I have had first quality cotton fabric shrink as much as four inches in width!

    3.Pre-washing insures colorfastness. If a fabric bleeds too much it can be treated with a salt or vinegar rinse or discarded before using it in a quilt. After a fabric is sewn in a quilt it can easily bleed onto other fabrics.

    All of my new fabric is taken directly to the laundry room where I keep a small mat, ruler and pinking rotary cutter. I trim all the cut edges with a pinking rotary cutter. This helps alleviate the strings that hang from the fabric after it is washed and dried. When fabric is dry, I simply fold the fabric in my preferred method to fit my storage totes. I usually do not put the fabric away for several days to be certain the fabric is dry. I do not iron fabric until I am ready to use it. If I iron it first, and fold it for storage, it needs to be re-ironed again just before using anyway.

    Flannel fabric will shrink even more than regular quilting cottons so it should be pre-washed. If flannel fabric becomes too soft from washing and drying, a light spray of spray sizing or spray starch when ironing would renew the body or stiffness of new fabric.

    Cotton batting will shrink quite a lot and will give your quilt the "antique" look. If this is the look you wish to have, do not pre-shrink your cotton or cotton blend batting. If you don't want this shrinkage to occur, you would need to pre-shrink your cotton and blend battings. You do not need to preshrink 100% polyester batting.

    Most brands of batting will have pre-shrinking instructions on the package. If not, simply fill your washing machine with warm water. Unroll and place cotton batting in water. Turn washing machine off and let the batting soak for at least thirty minutes. Do not agitate. Spin water out on a very short spin cycle and dry the batting in the dryer on low temperature.

    Pre-shrinking fabric is a necessary and important step to quality quiltmaking. If you wish your quilt to be flat and smooth you don't want your fabric to be shrinking at uneven rates.
    ************************

    Good article!

  24. #24
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    I learned my lesson the hard way. I prewash all fabric I buy by the yard and always purchase a bit more, and I don't prewash fabric I buy in a kit. I did that once and the cuts were all off. Never again, you end up losing money and time. Also, I use a shout "color catcher" helps with the red fabrics.

  25. #25
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    I did not prewash for years and when I would press a new fabric the chemical smell would make me sick. Now I prewash everything. I really like working with washed and starched fabric. I usually do not buy precuts, but if I do they get washed by hand. I let them soak for about 1/2 hour, swish them, squeeze out water, roll in a towel, and hang or lay out to dry.

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