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Thread: Should I pre-wash fabric that I plan to hand-embroider?

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    Should I pre-wash fabric that I plan to hand-embroider?

    I am in the planning stage for a family tree quilt, and intend to hand-embroider each ancestor's name on a fabric leaf, which I will then applique to the quilt top. I would prefer not to pre-wash the fabric, but I am concerned that the embroidery will become distorted if I wait until the end and wash the completed quilt. To add another wrinkle (no pun intended), I am considering using charm packs, and cutting each leaf from a pre-cut square. Am I asking for trouble if I pre-wash a charm pack? Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    The finished quilt will look something like this, if it helps to visualize... https://www.etsy.com/listing/9761983...ef=favs_view_4

  2. #2
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    If you felt that you have to wash the charm pack, I would hand wash them. Do you have one of the netted bags?? If you do, you could put them it in the dryer. I would then spray starch them so they have a little stiffness in them.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

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    If you are using brights on a light background, I would hand wash your squares and lay them out on white paper towels to see if you have a bleeder. If everything looks good then iron and starch them before marking, embroider your names and then cut out the shape.
    Are you going to hand or machine appliqué them on?

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    Can second the use of starch - i use to be so keen to get my project on the way i would try to avoid all the prep, however I get better results when i take the time to prep and highly recommend starch as it make fabric easier to deal with when applique is involved.

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    I don't know about the new stuff, but the old embroidery floss shrinks in the dryer, and puckers up all that beautiful handwork - ask me how I know! Seriously, I would at least swish all the charms around in warm water, maybe twice to get any sizing out, then dry them damp and iron them on hot to get all the shrinking done ahead of time. I wonder if you can pre-wash the floss? Or is the new floss pre-shrunk?

    This is an interesting post. I haven't done any hand embroidery for years as I have arthritis in my hands, but I'm finding that a fish oil supplement (about 3-4/day) seems to help. I'd like to try it again, but I don't want to make something and have it ruined by washing. Maybe pre-make a couple of sample blocks, trying different ways of prep to see how they do.
    Margaret F

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    Not only prewash but test your thread also. I just made an embroidery quilt using various colors in pearle cotton. The red ran. I had to redo two panels with red. It was DMC brand pearle cotton #5 from Jo Anns.

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    As it is going to be a heirloom hanging I would definitely prewash and wash a sample of the thread. People in the future will want to wash it.
    Finished is better than a UFO

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    I have pre-washed embroidery floss before. To keep it from tangling, I threaded it through some plastic canvas, swished it through hot soapy water, rinsed and hung it up to dry. (Shame on me but it's still on the canvas. I have a pattern for a redwork quilt and didn't want the floss to run. Someday, sigh.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MFord View Post
    I don't know about the new stuff, but the old embroidery floss shrinks in the dryer, and puckers up all that beautiful handwork - ask me how I know! Seriously, I would at least swish all the charms around in warm water, maybe twice to get any sizing out, then dry them damp and iron them on hot to get all the shrinking done ahead of time. I wonder if you can pre-wash the floss? Or is the new floss pre-shrunk?

    This is an interesting post. I haven't done any hand embroidery for years as I have arthritis in my hands, but I'm finding that a fish oil supplement (about 3-4/day) seems to help. I'd like to try it again, but I don't want to make something and have it ruined by washing. Maybe pre-make a couple of sample blocks, trying different ways of prep to see how they do.
    I hadn't even thought of the possibility that the floss itself might shrink; I'm glad you put that issue on my radar! I don't know whether the floss is pre-shrunk, so I will have to look into that. I will heed your advice to make some sample blocks using different methods to figure out what works best-- that will probably be the best way to go about this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    If you are using brights on a light background, I would hand wash your squares and lay them out on white paper towels to see if you have a bleeder. If everything looks good then iron and starch them before marking, embroider your names and then cut out the shape.
    Are you going to hand or machine appliqué them on?
    A good point-- dark on light may necessitate pre-washing anyway. I was planning to machine appliqué the leaves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toverly View Post
    Not only prewash but test your thread also. I just made an embroidery quilt using various colors in pearle cotton. The red ran. I had to redo two panels with red. It was DMC brand pearle cotton #5 from Jo Anns.
    Oh no! I will definitely test the thread-- thanks for that advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne57 View Post
    I have pre-washed embroidery floss before. To keep it from tangling, I threaded it through some plastic canvas, swished it through hot soapy water, rinsed and hung it up to dry. (Shame on me but it's still on the canvas. I have a pattern for a redwork quilt and didn't want the floss to run. Someday, sigh.)
    That's a great idea-- thank you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kindleaddict63 View Post
    Can second the use of starch - i use to be so keen to get my project on the way i would try to avoid all the prep, however I get better results when i take the time to prep and highly recommend starch as it make fabric easier to deal with when applique is involved.
    Good to know! I am new to appliqué, so this is very helpful advice. I will be sure to starch!

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