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Thread: textile center garage sale finds and a question about hand dyed fabric

  1. #1
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    textile center garage sale finds and a question about hand dyed fabric

    I went the the textile garage sale at the U of M a few weeks ago. My catch-12 1/2 yards total with 1- 4 1/2 yard cut 25 FQ and a Marshalls/tj maxx oversized reusable shopping bag of scraps ( love scrappys)
    and an extension table for my sewing machine. All for $42! My question is there were some hand dyed & hand painted fabrics, can I use them in a quilt? How do I wash them and keep them from bleeding or will just washing do it. Or should I just save them for art quilts? Thanks for any ideas

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    I buy most of my fabrics second hand any more and don't know their back stories. The only bad fabric I ever got, a name brand maroon tone-on-tone, I bought new and prewashed it, used it in the quilt and it ruined the sophisticated grey, slate blue, and maroon top with sparkles of white into non-sparkles of pink... To be honest, although I prewashed I would not have caught it because 99.9% of the time nothing bad happens. Since then however and having a finished quilt ruined I catch it or at least try to.

    Depending on the project, everything jumps into the pool for the top and the washer. I use batiks and hand dyed fabrics often. Usually in smaller scrappy pieces but sometimes more planned. I prefer to pre-wash all of my fabrics myself in a non-scented soap and no softener or dryer sheets. Anything fat quarter and larger just goes into the regular wash. Large pieces of yardage (over 3 yards) I wait to wash until the project because if I don't have to iron and fold a 6 yard piece it makes me happy. Smaller than that and they go into lingerie bags, and there are some sizes too small for me to fuss with. The worst pieces to prewash are long skinny strips, I don't bother with anything smaller than 1/4 yard, and those go into lingerie bags, I would never wash a jelly roll. If you don't confine them into the bag they snake around and tangle up your entire load, in the bag you may or may not decide it is worth your time and trouble to untangle them.

    Recently I bought a sealed bag of scraps at the goodwill, when I opened the bag they were obviously from the home of a heavy smoker. Part of me just wanted to throw the whole bag away, but the other part said you just bought that for real money! I put a towel on top of my washer, spread out pieces to fit, and them spritzed them back and front with Febreeze. Then I tossed them in washer loosely while I worked on the next layer of pieces. After spritzing I let them sit for about 15 minutes and then washed as usual, they came out great! So far though nothing I have ever tried has gotten rid of moth ball odor.

    So yes, basic prewashing, like colors, or alone to start with (speaking of which, I need to start my laundry!). Then check suspect fabrics again. You can do a sink wash too and see how much dye comes out. You can use a color catcher in the wash (I loved the original Dye Magnets, not so fond of the not really fabric ones). You can take a small piece, wet it, and rub it between white paper towel to see if any color runs off. Dark hand dyed fabrics can bleed, but many home dyers are very good with their processes and fixatives. Still, I'd be skeptical of particularly dark blues and all reds. You might be able to feel if a wax process was used, some I never can get the feel completely out.

    Sometimes with metallic or glitter fabrics I will wash them in a bag with a white terry cloth face towel to see if any of the metallic transfers off.

    Key to my process is getting them out of the dryer just before they are dry, I give them a scorching hot (linen setting) quick iron, fold them in particular ways for cutting, and put them away.

    Something to watch for is some home dyers are using rayons. Usually you can feel/see the weight difference, silks (even a raw one) are generally easy to tell as not-cotton. I've never had a problem with rayons mixed into my tops, even one scrap quilt that had pieces from a favorite rayon sundress so it had been washed a number of times before using, it wore as well as the new cotton fabrics. I've gotten pretty good at burn testing my fabrics, can be hard to tell rayon from cotton that way sometimes too. I figure if I can't tell, it's good to go. There are videos on burn testing, but part of the process is also using your nose and feeling the burned edge.

  3. #3
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    I use a lot of hand dyes in quilts. I do prewash to make sure they aren’t going to bleed but I’ve had really good luck with them. I love the variety of hand dyes and being a person who loves to dye my own fabric I use them practically every quilt I make includes some hand dyed fabric
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  4. #4
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    When I go into "washing mode" - I now soak everything washable in hot water before washing it.

    I still overcast the raw edges of larger pieces - either with a zigzag stitch or serging them - before washing them.

    I used to "just" wash fabric in cool to warm water - until I had a dark blue and a dark red (Jinny Beyer fabrics) fade on to a light gray when i starched the units. I was surprised when that happened.

    My feeling is - that if the conditions of a large piece - fading, shrinking, chemicals, etc. - merit washing it - the same conditions still apply to small pieces. (It only takes one very small piece of a bleeder to mess up a large project.)

    I have not been able to get rid of moth ball smell either -

    As far as the hand-dyed or painted pieces go - if they go through the washing process to your satisfaction, then I think they would be okay to use.

    Yes, it is a lot of extra handling before getting to the cutting and sewing stage - but the effort is worth it to me.

    (I am not known for being overly ambitious or enjoying strenuous activities - the peace of mind is worth it to me.)

    I am also "assuming" that whoever the recipient is may not be aware of "the proper" way to care for a quilt - or may not have easy access to washing facilities.

  5. #5
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    PS - I bought a bag of scraps at a textile center garage sale - and because the scraps looked like they were all from "better" lines - I just dumped them all in and washed them together.

    One of the reds bled.

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    Thought I'd mention that I have, along with many people I have met along the way, experimented with processing fabric in various ways. Tie dying t-shirts with my son was always fun too, we just did them in the microwave and I learned some great techniques like making a plaid design.

    Most of the things I've done I've followed directions and used fixatives and such, and I've always had very positive results both in my artistic endeavors and the staying power of the dyes. I think that is the feeling of most people I know who have had a hand-dye kick.

    I've known a couple of knitters who were serious about dying their yarn, often spinning it as well.

    Just want to point out again, that the one fabric in 40 years of sewing that caused problems for me was one that shouldn't have by price and brand and all that. It's like the slogan -- trust no one! Still, that has been a lot of fabric with no problems of all names and brands and quality.

    And while not dye related, I've had brand name fabric that was fine unwashed but after the sizing and such was removed was pretty flimsy or otherwise hard to work with like remaining surprisingly stiff. You develop a good eye and a good touch, but sometimes things change by washing.

    I was just thinking about this the other day, I appreciate fabric from a tactile sense as well as visual. And visually I might prefer one of a different treatment or finish than another. I miss that part of shopping in person, those of you who have one/some, cherish your LQS! Those of us without are missing out on a big part of the appeal.

  7. #7
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I am wondering if Synthropol would work on keeping the colors in. supposed to "set" them.
    "From hence only infer that an Englishman, of all men, ought not to despise foreigners as such and I think the inference is just, since what they are today, we were yesterday, and tomorrow they will be like us"
    Daniel De Foe -The True Englishman

  8. #8
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I wash all fabrics with 3 or 4 color catchers in cold water Tide. Always works for me. I never use hand dyed fabrics.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  9. #9
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    ReTayne sets dye in fabric, so if you wash and there is bleeding, rewash with Retayne.

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    Would using Febreeze help with the odor? Just a thought.

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone for all your ideas, I knew the helpful quilters of this board would have the answers.

  12. #12
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I wash anything I am afraid might bleed with color catchers and wash until the color catchers come out clean.

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