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Quilt Shrinkage after washing

Quilt Shrinkage after washing

Old 03-18-2023, 11:25 AM
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Question Quilt Shrinkage after washing

What would you consider the average for quilt shrinkage after machine washing and drying on an all cotton quilt with cotton batting? Honestly, I've never actually measured after I made a quilt before washing it or measured the same quilt after. The topic came up in a conversation with someone on what size quilt they want made. I've never given it a thought.

She was wondering what the shrinkage would be in inches, after washing and drying it. She was wondering if there would be enough shrinkage that would make the quilt smaller than she wanted it to be, to fit on an antique bed with a 'real' full, fluffed up, feather mattress. She wants it to be a large enough size to accommodate the possible shrinkage, so it will lay the way she wants. But, she also doesn't want to over compensate for shrinkage if there is only going to be minimal shrinkage that wouldn't be noticible.

Last edited by quiltsfor; 03-18-2023 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 03-18-2023, 12:16 PM
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That's just way too much "overthinking it" for me. 😆

In my mind, it's better to go a little too big rather than too small. She can try to compensate for shrinkage by pre-washing all her fabrics and drying on hot, and also using a polyester batting. This should minimize the shrinkage about as much as a person can.
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Old 03-18-2023, 01:06 PM
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Af fiend had a queen sized quilt shrink about 7 inches after washing. She was disappointed as it didn’t fit the bed like she wanted.

Agree to pre wash fabrics to get the shrinkage issues out of the way.
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Old 03-18-2023, 02:24 PM
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It's entirely dependent on the fabrics (you can mitigate some of this with pre-washing), batting, and quilting density. I've read anywhere from 5-10%, so assume the worst case and you would likely be safe. That said, I wouldn't try to target a specific width, such as trying to make a bedspread-sized quilt that just barely touched the ground.
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Old 03-18-2023, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Rhonda K View Post
Af fiend had a queen sized quilt shrink about 7 inches after washing. She was disappointed as it didn’t fit the bed like she wanted.

Agree to pre wash fabrics to get the shrinkage issues out of the way.

Interesting, on the shrinkage. I don't pre-wash any of my quilting fabric. I prefer to use it with the orginial sizing or stiffness. I guess with the shrinkage, that's what makes the quilt get that old fashioned quilt look. A look I happen to like.

I knew that there is shrinkage, but never gave it a thought of how much measurable shrinkage there is. Now that she has mentioned it, I'll probably overthink it for every quilt I make. Wonderful!

I'm just going to tell her to expect some amount of shrinkage and see what she thinks. I'm sure different cotton fabric shrinks differently, probably based on the amount of dyes used etc., on top of the batting shrinkage, so there is no way to give an exact amount of shrinkage overall.
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Old 03-18-2023, 06:02 PM
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A while back, I started a notebook. I write down the fabric, the batting, and the thread used. I measure the quilt top when done piecing, I measure again when done quilting, and one more time after washing and drying the quilt. Yep, quilting shrinks it a bit, and then the washing and drying even more. How much it shrinks does vary. I make mostly full, queen, and a few king sized beds. The loft of the batting even affects the shrinkage from the actual quilting. I usually do not prewash. I think the most I have had a quilt shrink is 6-7 inches and that was a queen flannel quilt. If I had to ballpark it on a queen bed I would say plan on about 3-4 inches but again, that will depend on the fabric, the batting, and the density of the quilting. It has been a good learning tool to keep that notebook.

If you do not want a quilt to shrink much, plan on prewashing your fabric and I would recommend using warm/hot water or whatever you would wash your laundry with. You want your fabric to get the shrinking over with before using it. Same with the drying, I would dry the fabric in the dryer on your normal setting. As for batting shrinkage most batting packaging states how much it will shrink. Remember though, that the actual quilting also decreases the size of the top too. Flannel I would actually consider multiple washings if you do not want much shrinkage.

Last edited by sewingpup; 03-18-2023 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 03-18-2023, 06:23 PM
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My question would be, does she have this real fluffed up feather mattress yet? Can she give you the size she wants the quilt to end up and does she expect the quilt to be exactly that size no matter what pattern she chooses? I'm not sure what you mean by "lay the way she wants". I'd get clarity on the mattress and what she means my lay the way she wants it to. It sounds like she doesn't have much experience of quilts or what is possible. Clarifying things with her could save you a lot of anguish later on when her expectations (realistiic or not) aren't met.

To your question, I've never had a quilt shrink very much and I don't always prewash fabrics.
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Old 03-19-2023, 04:09 AM
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I wash and dry all my fabric and batting for each quilt I make. There are no surprises, no bleeding, no shrinkage. No problems with unhappy customers.
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Old 03-19-2023, 06:57 AM
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I don't make quilts to sell or for accept quilt jobs so I don't bother with details of exactness. I will steam iron fabric before cutting including precuts. I put cotton/cotton blend in the dryer after spaying it with water to shrink and get the wrinkles out. I always wash my quilts after they are finished. I've never measured after washing though.
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Old 03-19-2023, 07:12 AM
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It can be surprising/ interesting to measure along the way.

If one keeps records of the what, why, and how one did something, the results can be informative.

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