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Thread: To Prewash or Not?

  1. #1
    Senior Member sikesjj's Avatar
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    To Prewash or Not?

    Do you prewash your quilting fabric or not? I am a new quilter.

  2. #2
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    You will get dozens of responses on this. Quilters are divided. Many prewash everything and won't go near a piece of fabric that has not been washed. Others wash nothing. One thing they all seem to agree on is washing batiks because they nearly always bleed. Most agree that prewashing flannel is required because it typically shrinks so much. (Unless it will be a rag quilt and then most don't wash it.)

    It all comes down to read, research, listen and do what feels comfortable to you. If you don't wash, it might bleed. If you do wash, you might have lots of extra ironing to do.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cowpie2's Avatar
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    I almost always prewash. If I have white and any strong colors I'm worried about bleeding. I've also noticed that not all fabric shrinks the same. I've seen on line here where alot of people generally don't pre-wash. But I figure the extra work is worth it if I avoid a bleeder or one that shrinks excessively.

  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    i wash all my fabrics when they come in the door... that way, they are always ready for use and i won't get any bleeding or shrinking problems later
    Nancy in western NY
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  5. #5
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I don't pre-wash anything. Batiks, flannels, reds, none of it gets pre-washed.

    Do what makes you happy and don't worry too much about what everybody else does.

  6. #6
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa_wanna_b_quilter View Post
    You will get dozens of responses on this. Quilters are divided. Many prewash everything and won't go near a piece of fabric that has not been washed. Others wash nothing. One thing they all seem to agree on is washing batiks because they nearly always bleed. Most agree that prewashing flannel is required because it typically shrinks so much. (Unless it will be a rag quilt and then most don't wash it.)

    It all comes down to read, research, listen and do what feels comfortable to you. If you don't wash, it might bleed. If you do wash, you might have lots of extra ironing to do.
    Very good advice
    When you sleep under a quilt, you sleep under a blanket of love.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    i am on the fence about this, but i tend to NOT prewash. of course, i haven't had anything bad happen.

  8. #8
    Super Member frustratedquilter40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    I don't pre-wash anything. Batiks, flannels, reds, none of it gets pre-washed.

    Do what makes you happy and don't worry too much about what everybody else does.
    I also do not prewash even batiks.

    with one exception I do prewash my flannels:
    ​Christine

  9. #9
    Super Member NikkiLu's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=frusratedquilter40;5507327]I also do not prewash even batiks.

    Oh goodness! I only prewash my batiks in my pure white kitchen dish pan and had a blue one one time that every time that I squeezed it it squirted out blue ink - just like an octapus squirts out ink. I had to finally throw it away.
    Nikki in MO

  10. #10
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    it is a personal choice- if you have a hand-dyed fabric or a batik that is very saturated color (deep purple, red, blue ect) you may want to at least test it to see if its' going to run or not- (wet it & rub with a paper towel or white piece of muslin-see if color comes off)
    if it's flannel it will shrink more than other cottons- so if you are mixing fabrics- using flannel & regular cottons in the same project you will want to pre-wash the flannel- if you are using flannel for a raggy quilt don't bother-
    if you simply not sure- make yourself 2 small quilts- one with pre-washed fabric- one with not washed fabric & compare the outcome- see what you like-
    i personally prewash if...i am concerned about a color running, if it feels funky- if it smells funky- if it is stiff & i want to soften it up-
    if none of the above are an issue i may or may not bother-
    i ALWAYS wash my finished project as soon as the binding is finished- no matter what- doesn't matter if the fabrics have been pre-washed or not- last step is to launder the finished project.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  11. #11
    Senior Member Learner747's Avatar
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    Fabrics often shrink at different amounts. So prewash then all will be ready for piecing.

  12. #12
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    I am not a risk taker -- therefore, I pre-wash. If it bleeds, it gets a Retayne treatment. There is just too much time and money at stake here to take chances.

    Dayle

  13. #13
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I do not prewash mostly because I cannot wait to dive into fabric and start cutting. I always wash the finished quilt and I use two fabric catchers just to be on the safe side. They saved me more than once!

  14. #14
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    The best answer/question for me would be "should you pre-test" for running/bleeding? I pretest every single batik for running/bleeding. I test regular cottons that are suspect for running and bleeding. As for preshrinking regular cottons .. depends.. on what my expectations for the final result. Flannel.. I would not start a project without preshrinking flannel.
    There are so many opinions on this subject .. but I would say that all too often a thread is started .. that someone has had a fabric bleed and are heartbroken and desperate for a cure.

  15. #15
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I think there are 3 groups of quilters. Group 1 pre-washes and always has. Group 2 never pre-washes and hasn't had a problem. Group 3 didn't pre-wash, had a problem, and is crying about it, but may or may not start pre-washing. I'm in Group 1, but Group 2 is a large happy group, although they occasionally lose a member to Group 3.

  16. #16
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I don't prewash. I *do* test suspicious fabrics for bleeding. Testing consists of dropping a small piece in a glass of water to see if any dye bleeds into the water, and also rubbing the damp fabric against some white fabric to see if any dye transfers that way. If I have a bleeder, I wash in Retayne to set the dye. If the fabric continues to bleed after two Retayne treatments, I do not use it in a quilt.

    Not pre-washing saves me tons of time, plus the sizing that is left in the fabric from the manufacturer helps stabilize the fabric so I have more accurate cutting and piecing. If I do have to prewash a fabric for some reason, I will starch it when I iron so it will be stabilized like the fabric off the bolts.

    The first wash of my quilts is always with Synthrapol, which suspends unset dye particles in the water so they are rinsed away instead of settling into other fabrics.

    Some people are concerned about unequal shrinkage of fabrics. However, if there is sufficient quilting, shrinkage is controlled by the batting. In other words, in an adequately quilted piece, fabric will not be able to shrink more than the batting shrinks. (Fabric shrinkage is an issue with tied quilts, though, because the layers do not "become one" with the batting.)

  17. #17
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Lisa_wanna_b_quilter;5507152]You will get dozens of responses on this. Quilters are divided. Many prewash everything and won't go near a piece of fabric that has not been washed. Others wash nothing. One thing they all seem to agree on is washing batiks because they nearly always bleed. Most agree that prewashing flannel is required because it typically shrinks so much. (Unless it will be a rag quilt and then most don't wash it.)

    I'm one that prewashes everything, yes even fat quarters, charms,and jelly rolls,recieved as gifts, (use sweater bags for small pieces and jelly rolls,) I always wash and dry new fabric the same way I will the finished quilt and I always use color catchers. All it takes is one runing color or one fabric that shrinks a lot more than the rest and all your hard work is ruined. I have noticed a lot less shrinkage and running colors in the last few years, maybe the fabric makers are improving there products. Do what you feel best in any given case.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    I wash everything but the batting LOL and the thread..That wouldn't be pretty...Anyway I don't want whatever stuff they spray to keep bugs out of the material and don't want to worry about bleeding or having it pucker odd it odd places.I starch the bejabbers out of it when I am ready to use it so it behaves and plays well with others

  19. #19
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    I think there are 3 groups of quilters. Group 1 pre-washes and always has. Group 2 never pre-washes and hasn't had a problem. Group 3 didn't pre-wash, had a problem, and is crying about it, but may or may not start pre-washing. I'm in Group 1, but Group 2 is a large happy group, although they occasionally lose a member to Group 3.

    Good summary, Dunster!!!

    I'm definitely in Group 1 ... I like to minimize the risks and know what I am dealing with rather than doing a lot of work and then have disaster strike!

    And ... it should be remembered that it's not a matter of "washing" ... the bleed factor does not necessarily end with one washing. I've had a LOT of surprises with fabrics that I never thought would bleed and thankfully found out, and stopped that before cutting into fabric. Colour Catchers and Retayne are worth the added expense to our projects!!!!


    Here's an article that came in the weekly QB newsletter yesterday that will give you some more insights into the subject ........
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/resourc...iclenewsletter
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  20. #20
    Super Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    Well, I guess here's another opinion. I just finished binding a baby quilt -- bound it by cutting the binding on the bias of a red/white stripe. BEFORE I cut the binding, I put the whole piece in a very large stew pot and cooked it (simmer only) for 20 minutes in a mixture of Rit dye fixative and water. You should have seen the water -- very pink, but no bleeding into the white stripes. Go figure? But, I just can't afford to take the chance, so I guess I'm committed to prewashing!

    LOL A number of opinions is right!

    Jeanette Frantz
    Last edited by Jeanette Frantz; 09-11-2012 at 06:52 PM. Reason: words left out

  21. #21
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    I don't. I like the crispness of unwashed.

  22. #22
    Super Member Pat625's Avatar
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    Right now I am in group 2...most likely will eventually end up in group 3...But that doesn't mean I will add the extra step of prewashing everything..but will test the darker fabrics

  23. #23
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    I prewash all fabrics as soon as I bring them into the house. Fabrics outgass formaldhyde and have excess dye, prewashing removes these dyes, and shrinks the fabric before using in a quilt. After washing/drying the fabric I press the fabric and then store for use.

  24. #24
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    I think there are 3 groups of quilters. Group 1 pre-washes and always has. Group 2 never pre-washes and hasn't had a problem. Group 3 didn't pre-wash, had a problem, and is crying about it, but may or may not start pre-washing. I'm in Group 1, but Group 2 is a large happy group, although they occasionally lose a member to Group 3.
    Well said!

    I'm also in Group1 because I never want to be in Group 3...
    Wendy

  25. #25
    Senior Member sikesjj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rush88888 View Post
    i am on the fence about this, but i tend to NOT prewash. of course, i haven't had anything bad happen.
    I went ahead and prewashed all my fabrics and it is a good thing because my blue floral bleed all over everything. It is soaking now to try to revive it and it of course was the most expensive quilting fabric I bought.

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