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Thread: prewashing fabric

  1. #1

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    hello, I am new to quilting but have been reading up on it. I do have one question, when prewashing new fabric what do you use?

  2. #2

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    hi
    You wash your material the same way that you will wash it after you make your quilt.
    I sort my fabrics the first time I wash them just in case that that the fabric dyes run , I just put light colors together to wash them in the washing machine. Dark colors together and reds by themself, just the same way I wash clothes.
    hope this helps

  3. #3
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    I don't ever prewash, I just wash my finished quilts with a dye sheet catcher, I use the Shout! brand. Works everytime, and I use lots of reds and creams in my quilts.

  4. #4

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    There is another reason to prewash fabric. I recently prewashed a fabric with a dark black background. Yes - fugitive dyes can be controled from bleeding onto other fabrics, but in this case, the fabric itself faded in streaks. I am certainly glad I found out before I put it into my quilt! The store I purchased the fabric at refunded my money and returned the faulty fabric to the dealer.

  5. #5
    Country Quilter's Avatar
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    I always prewash my fabric and I just use my regular laundry soap to do it.

  6. #6

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    I prewash all my fabrics unless it's for a swap or exchange where unwashed is requested. I wash mine just as hellcat does.....sorted with just my regular detergent.
    Gay

  7. #7
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    I don't add soap to mine. I just rinse. If I see color in the water I repeat.
    I used solid red in a heavy cotton for a quilt back and it bled a lot. so that got rinsed a lot. Some fabric I use as is, I feel it and check contents; go with that, so far has worked.

  8. #8
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    I prewash, to get all sizing and extra dyes out. If I think a dark color is going to run, I wash it separately (in the washer with regular detergent) and then rinse with salt and cold water. It helps to lock in the colors or so I learned in Home Economics class in, oh, a couple of years ago just before I graduated high school. ;-)

    Sharon

    PS, lucky catch on that dark streaking fabric. Whew, I'd have been really "ticked" to have invested in quilt only to have it fade and streak!

  9. #9

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    Hi,

    I always prewash my fabrics. On my dark blues and reds, I use the quilt soap along with distilled white vinegar. That sets the reds and blues. Washing the fabric first is a big plus. The only time I don't wash fabric first if I'm using light or medium colors (no reds, blues, etc.,) and I want it to look more quilted.

    Shari

  10. #10
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    Isn't it enough just to rinse the fabric out in warm water in the bathtub or sink and then put it in the dryer? It seems to me that most of the fabric that might run will do it then.

  11. #11
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    Why not pre-wash your fabric the same way you will be washing your finished quilt?
    I use my regular detergent, but a lesser amount.
    Don't use any fabric softener, it can cause greasy looking spots on your fabric. Happened to me, so the fabric shop was the people who gave me this information.
    I too, separate the fabrics by color, but we know we can't do that after the quilt is finished, so what is the point when we pre-wash?
    Joyce

  12. #12
    Senior Member k_jupiter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joyce
    Why not pre-wash your fabric the same way you will be washing your finished quilt?
    I use my regular detergent, but a lesser amount.
    Don't use any fabric softener, it can cause greasy looking spots on your fabric. Happened to me, so the fabric shop was the people who gave me this information.
    I too, separate the fabrics by color, but we know we can't do that after the quilt is finished, so what is the point when we pre-wash?
    Joyce
    Do you mean you wash your white fabric with a deep dark red? Sounds like a prescription for disaster. If you rid your fabric of excess dyes, it should be pretty stable on subsequent washes. I always use the hot water cycles for my initial wash.

    tim in san jose

  13. #13
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    If it runs really bad in the pre wash it could ruin your other fabric''''''''''at this point you could replace a fabric

  14. #14
    Senior Member Extreme Quilter's Avatar
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    prewash, to get all sizing and extra dyes out. If I think a dark color is going to run, I wash it separately (in the washer with regular detergent) and then rinse with salt and cold water. It helps to lock in the colors or so I learned in Home Economics class in, oh, a couple of years ago just before I graduated high school.



    What is the ratio of salt to cold water that you use? Thanks.

  15. #15

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    I agree with the prewash for a couple reasons. Of course it lets you test for color fastness. I never had heard of salt to set the color, white vinegar would be another method. I usually just wash it in warm with soap like any other load. Sorted by color of course! But other than color fastness, shrinkage in any sewing project can mess up the finished project.
    That is why I prefer warm, or even hot water for whites and lights. whatever the fabric is going to do in the first wash it will do in pieces the same as in bulk. After the sewing if you prefer the sizing look, you can replace that! just use a little starch from the laundry care section at yor local store. I would probably use liquid rather than aerosol due to flaking. :) . I myself have never tried one of those color trapping additives so can't comment but, salt or vinegar (I suddenly want potatoe chips! :lol: ) are so much cheaper. And environmentally friendly!

  16. #16
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    I just now did my first prewash... Only third quilt (1st a kit and 2nd wallhanging). This is for a baby quilt and I wanted to preshrink first. Anyway, my question is: How do I keep the edges from fraying and tangling all together? It was a mess when I took out of washer. Any assistance in this would be appreciated. I think I want to prewash all my fabric.
    :?:

  17. #17
    Super Member PurplePassion's Avatar
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    Clip the corners of your fabric , at an angle. this will keep them from fraying too much.
    Elaine

  18. #18
    Super Member azdesertrat's Avatar
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    always prewash fabric,even the pricier stuff doesn't alway shrink the same way or" amount" if you wait till after it could spell disaster for something you have worked really hard on.I just use regular soap.
    But you will find alot of quilters don't but I wouldn't take the risk no matter how small 8)

  19. #19
    Super Member azdesertrat's Avatar
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    I know people who either use there serger and serge all the edges of the fabric or zigzag the edges before washing 8)

  20. #20
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    If it is in a kit and already cut you don't prewash. Everyone who has done precut quilts says they have never had a problem with them

  21. #21
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    I said I sort my fabric for pre-washing, but was just wondering outloud why I bother.
    Once they are sewn together they are all going to be washed together, right?
    I do think the separated colors for pre-wash will diminish the running of darker colors into the lighter colors.
    As a side note; I was prewashing a red and white print with a solid white that was to go with it. The red and white stayed like it was printed, but the white piece turned pink. I soaked that one in Oxy-Clean and it took the pink out of it.
    This is for a garment, so I think I will try washing them together one more time before making up the garment (unless I can live with a pink trim).
    Joyce

  22. #22

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    Prewashing fabric does more than control fugitive dyes and control shrinkage: It also removes a whole slew of fabric conditioners. Some conditioners interfere with the way fusible products bond; some are sizing that make thin or loosely woven fabric feel more substantial; some conditioners make a soft, short-staple cotton feel smoother and hide the fact that its threads are inherently weak and that the fabric will pill and wear out quickly. I have found, after washing a new fabric that seemed of reasonable quality, that it turned out to be very inferior. Sometimes I will choose not use this fabric in my quilts at all. Sometimes I will just choose not to use it for binding, where I want to use a stronger fabric.

    In general, I find prewashing gives you a lot of useful information about the actual quality of the fabric you have bought, and helps you make choices about how to use it: in an heirloom quilt? in a baby blanket that will be washed frequently? In a wall hanging that is not likely to be washed at all after it is hung?

  23. #23

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    I think it's important to get the sizing out of fabric before washing it. First of all, I can't stand the smell of the sizing, nor the feel of it. You can't be certain that the threads of the fabric have been aligned properly by the manufacturer. Also, it's really important to separate colours-I've avoided real disasters that way.Washing, then stretching the fabric if needed will help your project. When drying the fabric, take it from the dryer before it's bone dry--then you can adjust it as necessary. I press the fabric using a light spray starch. For newbies, there's a difference between pressing and ironing. Pressing is a light, straight up and down motion-not swirling the way you'd press a shirt. This prevents distortion of all your hard work!
    I hope this helps.

  24. #24
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkela
    I think it's important to get the sizing out of fabric before washing it. First of all, I can't stand the smell of the sizing, nor the feel of it. You can't be certain that the threads of the fabric have been aligned properly by the manufacturer. Also, it's really important to separate colours-I've avoided real disasters that way.Washing, then stretching the fabric if needed will help your project. When drying the fabric, take it from the dryer before it's bone dry--then you can adjust it as necessary. I press the fabric using a light spray starch. For newbies, there's a difference between pressing and ironing. Pressing is a light, straight up and down motion-not swirling the way you'd press a shirt. This prevents distortion of all your hard work!
    I hope this helps.
    if you stretch your fabric before you cut and piece with it, you run a very real risk it will revert to its natural shape as soon as it's washed again, thus pulling your block back out of whack - even after it's been quilted. i would discourage that practice and suggest, instead, blocking the damp fabric as you would a sweater. that is, gently smoothing and shaping it, (but not forcing it past its natural limits), then let it dry on its own. to make sure it will stay that way, wet it again with a spray bottle (without moving it) to see what happens to the shape. if it retains the shape, use it as is. if not, either learn to love its whacky warf and weft or save it for a crazy quilt.

    i apologize for being so picky and overly obsessive about semantics, but these are important details.

    a less important, but equally picky, detail: spray sizing usually doesn't gunk up and get flaky, even if you apply a fairly heavy coat. spray starch sometimes does. (don't ask me how I know that. too much confession may be good for the soul, but it beats the heck out of my ego. LOL)

  25. #25

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    This is for Joaneau who asked how to control fraying when she prewashes her fabrics:

    Yup- agitator washers can do a job on some fabrics. Batiks seem much less prone to this than others. If your machine has a "delicates" or "gentle, fast" setting try that. It does help. I also wash my fabrics in those zippered mesh laundry bags (unfold the fabrics so the water will penetrate!), especially for fat quarters which ravel from three sides! Fabric is getting too expensive to lose significant amounts in the wash!

    Also consider keeping a scissors near by. (I hang mine on a cup hook screwed into the wall next to the washing machine, labeled "Laundry Room"). Trim the ravels and knots and untangle the fabric before it goes into the dryer. This lets the fabric relax and reshape and it is so-o-o much easier to press and fold later. Good luck!


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