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Thread: prewashing fabrics

  1. #1

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    There seems to be controversy about this, does one, or doesn't one prewash fabrics?

    And if you do prewash how do you prevent your fabric from pulling threads at the cut ends? At the moment I run my overlocker over the ends before I do wash fabric, but it can be quite a lenghty job

    M

  2. #2
    dd
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    Super Member dd's Avatar
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    I always prewash and serge the ends. I just prewashed fat1/4s yesterday. Strings all over the place. Won't do that again. I put them in a lingerie bag before. Don't know why I didn't do that this time. Some people want that look of washing afterward. What ever you do just make sure all the fabrics are the same. Remember the story in the bible about putting new wine in old wine skins? Don't need your quilt bursting at the seams.

  3. #3
    Super Member Murphy's Avatar
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    I do not prewash my fabric. It is definitely a personal choice as to wash or not wash.

  4. #4
    Super Member sewmuchmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy
    I do not prewash my fabric. It is definitely a personal choice as to wash or not wash.
    I too do not prewash. I love the look you get when you wash the quilt. :P

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by sewmuchmore
    I too do not prewash. I love the look you get when you wash the quilt. :P
    Can I ask what difference there is in the look?

    M

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by maktub
    Quote Originally Posted by sewmuchmore
    I too do not prewash. I love the look you get when you wash the quilt. :P
    Can I ask what difference there is in the look?

    M
    Fabrics that are not prewashed will shrink a little when the finished quilt is washed and the quilt will have that wrinkly look like an old vintage quilt.

    I prewash all my fabric because I do not like the chemicals used in producing the fabric. Plus I suspect most fabric that is imported is treated with insecticides. I know ready made clothing is. I also like working with fabric that has been washed and starched. I clip the corners of the fabric piece and I have very little raveling.

  7. #7
    Senior Member LisaGibbs's Avatar
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    I am not a pre-washer because I just wash when done to get all the messy lines and other markers off at one time. I guess if you are sensitive to some of the treatments to fabric or think it is going to bleed in color it would be best to surge edges and wash away in a gentle cycle just meant to get out the obvious and not stains. Careful with fabric softner as it can make the fabric fade faster in my opinion.

  8. #8
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    I think the subject of prewashing fabric is similar to the 'chicken and egg'. I'm a prewasher. I wash to make sure nothing is going to run; get rid of excessive shrinkage; get rid of chemicals/sizing. I then press and starch. I do not, however, prewash my batting. I wash all of my quilts after they are completed and still get the vintage/crinkly look which I like (plus it hides/minimizes my quilting booboos). I typically only do this with yardage. I don't buy FQ's very often. I don't treat edges in any fashion. Sometimes I get lots of tangled threads. Just last week I washed a ton of Hoffman batik fabric and I have to say there was almost no tangled threads. I was quite impressed compared to other LQS quality fabrics I've washed.

  9. #9
    Super Member Ps 150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maktub
    There seems to be controversy about this, does one, or doesn't one prewash fabrics?

    And if you do prewash how do you prevent your fabric from pulling threads at the cut ends? At the moment I run my overlocker over the ends before I do wash fabric, but it can be quite a lenghty job

    M
    I think everyone has their own way of doing things. If you like that wrinkled look of antique quilts, then don't. But, I must caution you, dark fabrics like navy blue and black and then there's the reds, they're most likely to bleed into your lighter quilts so they should be prewashed in hot water and some vinegar to get the colors out. I know that there's new "Color Catchers" you can throw in with the quilt but I've never been one to trust new gadgets and gizmos. They may work but I'm sure there's got to be one quilt out there that they would fail on and it would most likely be one of mine! :lol:

    Personally, I like to prewash and dry my fabrics because I find that even with prewashing, they still get a bit wrinkly when the quilt is all done and washed, and then I know there will be minimal shrinking, if any, but the colors won't bleed!

  10. #10
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    The short answers.

    Yes.

    No.

    There seem to be at least a gazillion threads about this topic.

    The results are almost always the same.

    The results seem to come down to - more or less - this:

    Some people wash EVERYTHING that can be washed before cutting it.

    Some people only wash SOME things - which answer puzzles me the most

    Some people NEVER wash anything before cutting.

  11. #11
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    No controversy here...just preference. I always prewash because I've had quilts that have bled and shrunk too much. Also there are a ton of chemicals in unwashed fabric. And if you buy fabric second hand, sometimes even bugs!

  12. #12
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    If I buy yardage, I do prewash. If it's fat quarters, which I don't buy often, I don't. I am a little sensitive to the formaldehyde (that is probably not spelled right :oops: ) that a lot of fabric is treated with, so I wash it. Otherwise, I cough and sneeze like crazy.

    Sometimes the fabric looks just like it did when I bought it after it's washed, and sometimes not. If it looks "tired" after I wash it, I'll iron it with starch or sizing.

  13. #13
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    I was like a kid in a candy shop. I went to a quilt shop to sign up for an applique class. I bought all of my supplies and fabric while I was there. I got my fabric home, unfolded it and started looking at the patterns and thread, trying to use my window templates to figure out placement to fussy cut leaves, looking at the texture, etc...very shortly after unfolding the fabric my eyes got watery and I got a runny nose. I didn't think much of this, thought maybe I was getting a cold. I took my fabric to the wash room to prewash, partically dry and press as my quilt shop suggested. When I started laying out my fabric to start cutting pieces, no watery eyes or runny nose. The next time I bought fabric and got it home, started looking at it, the same thing happened, watery eyes and a runny nose. When I went to my first applique class at the same quilt shop I secretly went around, I know this sounds silly, but I secretly went around the shop sniffing the fabric. Again, I got watery eyes and a runny nose. I'm a crazy lady about smells and odors. I don't have pets and no one in my house smokes and I can usually pick up on a persons clothing, if I get close to them, that they have pets or someone smokes. I didn't smell any of these odors at the quilt shop. It was clean and very tidy. It had to be the fabric. I went to Joann's and the same thing happened. Wow! I love my applique class and I hope prewashing my fabric stops all of these symptoms. The ladies in the class are so friendly and nice. When the ladies at the quilt shop suggested I prewash, I thought, well, ok, maybe. I will most definitely prewash from now on...I wonder exactly what is on/in that fabric for this to happen to me. What are we all breathing in when we work with fabric??

  14. #14
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Yes, you will find that everyone has a personal preference on this subject :D:D:D

  15. #15
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    I ran up against this just this past weekend. I made a quilt with a jelly roll. So after it was completed (top only) I threw it in the wash. Only soaked it for a minute, then into the dryer. I don't like the puckered look at all. Next I threw the dark red boarder fabric in (three times) to get it to quit bleeding. Then in went the batting, Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. Batting in the dryer on air, but then low because it wasn't getting dry.

  16. #16
    Junior Member Wagoza's Avatar
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    I always pre-wash my fabrics. The ends will fray and that is fine. I don't sweat the small stuff. My daughter, the 14 yr old, will help me clip the threads and fold the fabric before it goes into my sewing room. That way I know it is done and reduce the chances of shrinkage later.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sandybeach's Avatar
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    [quote=Wagoza]I always pre-wash my fabrics. The ends will fray and that is fine.

    Try using a zig zag blade in your rotary cutter and you will end the fraying. Just cut about 1/4 inch off each raw end.

  18. #18
    Super Member Greenheron's Avatar
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    Pre-wash, gently. When I was working the sewing factory floor, I often hung new, cut fabric over my shoulder or around my neck when hurrying from task to task. Sometimes this caused skin irritation or even rash. Did not happen to my hands--tougher skin, maybe. So, pre-wash fabric because of dye/chemical residue AND pre-wash new clothing for the same reason PLUS--you cannot imagine how many hands an item goes through in production.

  19. #19
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    i prewash, i don't like the puckered look at all.

  20. #20
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    Yes, everyone has their own opinion on this. I have to admit that I am baffled by the people who will prewash because they don't want to be exposed to chemicals but will still use that spray basting aerosol.

  21. #21
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    I always prewash, and I still get the crinkle look unless I wash (soak) the batting also. I have had fabric disintegrate while prewashing...I was very happy that I hadn't already sewn it into a quilt and THEN had it fall apart.

  22. #22
    Super Member Farm Quilter's Avatar
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    I pre-wash everything. I can't stand the pesticides and chemicals they use on them in the warehouses. If a piece is a 1/2 yard or larger, I fold it into a square that is fat quarter sized and pin the edges using safety pins that won't rust. This keeps everything from getting tangled and having all those threads...especially if you can get those cut edges on the inside of the folds.

  23. #23
    Super Member Farm Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladyjanedoe
    Yes, everyone has their own opinion on this. I have to admit that I am baffled by the people who will prewash because they don't want to be exposed to chemicals but will still use that spray basting aerosol.
    Different chemicals and I know what I am putting on there. Also, I only use it on the borders when the quilt is on my longarm if I need it to keep them from being wavy. I am not going to be handling it a great deal after that and my allergy triggers are not impacted by 505 like they are from the pesticides and other chemicals in my material.

  24. #24
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    It really does not take all that long to overcast/serge the raw edges of FQ and up sized pieces of fabric.

    Probably less time than cutting off those threads that frayed off - plus one only "loses" about 1/8 inch of fabric on each end versus up to an inch when it frays.

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    ive done both!1

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