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Thread: For Those That Pre-Wash, What is Your Process?? I've Never Done This But Plan to Use Red.

  1. #1
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    I bought some really pretty and vibrant Christmas prints in deep reds, blues and greens plus a few ivory matching prints. This is the first time I will be using such dark colors so I know I should pre-wash (I have done 6 quilt tops so far and haven't pre-washed anything yet). I am wondering about the following:

    Do you use your washing machine or just fill up the utility sink and do it by hand (the lady at my LQS mentioned she does it in her sink)?

    What temperature do you use?

    Do you use laundry soap or just water?

    Do you dry on super hot or just regular temperature?

    The LQS lady mentioned she likes to dry in the dryer just about 5 to 8 minutes and while it is still damp press. This sounds like a good idea.

    Any other pointers?? I am doing Christmas quilts for my family as a surprise for Christmas so I have to be super covert in making these. Not sure I can pull off making 4 quilts without my kids or husband seeing but I'm going to try. My husband isn't very curious or very observant buy my daughter is very hard to pass something off under her nose!!

  2. #2
    Super Member bluteddi's Avatar
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    personally....... most of the time I just use the sink....( unless I have ALOT of fabric, which is rare. ( for cotton fabric)
    I fill the sink with hot water..... a dash of detergent and let it soak for several hours.. if it is a particualrly bright color or I see it is bleeding into the water... I will empty and refill the water. Rinse well, then I toss it intot eh washer for a good spin.... intot he dryer it goes and again on hot...... iron as necessary.

  3. #3
    Super Member mamaw's Avatar
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    I use the washing machine, cold water, and little soap. Do not add fabric softener!!
    I normally don't wash anything in hot, so figure why should I wash my fabrics in hot and draw the dyes right out of them. I bought some batiks from an Amish quilt shop in PA and she told me the same thing. Wash as you normally would the quilt after it is made.
    I know some don't agree with this, but works for me.

  4. #4
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Small pieces get rinsed in the sink. These pieces get wrung out and I then flatten them on a towel. Roll the towel up and wring the towel. Most of the water comes out and they can be ironed dry.

    Larger pieces go in the washer, cold water. I dry them in the hot dryer but take them out before they are crisp. Smooth and fold to make future ironing easier. No detergent, no softener, no dryer sheet (in case I want to applique).

  5. #5
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    I prewash fabric the same way I do my laundry. I wash in cold water and dry on regular heat. I use detergent but not fabric softener. I do use Color Catchers especially with reds and purples. If the Color Catchers seem really saturated with dye when I finish, I'll re-launder with another Color Catcher.

  6. #6
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    Hot water & soap in washing machine with a color catcher if lots of colors, into hot dryer, fold and press later as needed.
    Small pieces I wash in bathroom sink.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SWEETPEACHES's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the casual quilter
    I prewash fabric the same way I do my laundry. I wash in cold water and dry on regular heat. I use detergent but not fabric softener. I do use Color Catchers especially with reds and purples. If the Color Catchers seem really saturated with dye when I finish, I'll re-launder with another Color Catcher.
    I do the same

  8. #8
    Super Member wuv2quilt's Avatar
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    Lots of great tips:)

  9. #9
    Senior Member merrylouw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the casual quilter
    I prewash fabric the same way I do my laundry. I wash in cold water and dry on regular heat. I use detergent but not fabric softener. I do use Color Catchers especially with reds and purples. If the Color Catchers seem really saturated with dye when I finish, I'll re-launder with another Color Catcher.
    I do the same[/quote]

    Me, too, and I take them out of the dryer a little damp, and iron them right then while their damp. (I hate to have to start ironing when I'm ready to start a new project!

    :)

  10. #10
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    Can you buy color catchers at Target or Wal-mart? Is there a brand I should be looking for (and are they called Color Catchers)? I haven't seen these before. I did start buying a washing machine cleaning agent as I have a front load washer now so I use the Tide brand cleaning crystals--they are hard to find.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    The only thing I would add is that it's a good idea to starch the fabric before ironing, to restore some of the off-the-bolt body. Pre-washed fabric can become limp, and limpness means it will stretch and distort more easily. Starch will stabilize the fabric so it is much less likely to stretch and distort with handling.

  12. #12
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    Okay, sorry another question that comes up is are you pressing the fabric or ironing?? Since it is such a large piece, many of my pieces for this Christmas project will be 1 to 3 yard pieces, do you "press" or iron? So far, when working with the large pieces like this to get wrinkles and folds out, I do a combination of pressing and gentle ironing.

    If you were to truly press a 1 to 3 yard peice (and you have 10 of the same size), it would take hours and hours to complete.

  13. #13
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the casual quilter
    I prewash fabric the same way I do my laundry. I wash in cold water and dry on regular heat. I use detergent but not fabric softener. I do use Color Catchers especially with reds and purples. If the Color Catchers seem really saturated with dye when I finish, I'll re-launder with another Color Catcher.
    ditto, except I use color catchers with everything except very light colored fabric. Also, if I washing a few yards of one fabric, I fan fold into about 1 yd size and safety pin the selvedge edge to keep it from becoming a tangled mess.

  14. #14
    Super Member JanetM's Avatar
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    I prewash everything in my laundry room sink. I clip the corners of the fabric, to minimize fraying.

    I use hot water, and if I see that the fabric is bleeding, I add Retayne to the water. I then drain the sink and refill it to make sure there is no further bleeding.

    Then into the dryer set on normal. Once dry, I iron it and fold it on a fabric board and store it on my stash bookshelves.

  15. #15
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I wash in the washing machine on hot with laundry detergent and dry with heat. I iron gently. I want everything that's going to happen to happen to that fabric before I use it in a quilt. If I think there are problem fabrics then I use a color catcher and wash again if it picks up a lot. I never starch until I'm ready to use the fabric, because then I'll want to press it again anyway, and I don't want it stored with starch in it. Good for you for deciding to pre-wash. You won't regret it, and if you decided not to...well every week or so there are posts from someone who regrets that decision.

  16. #16
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    OK, well this is my method. I learned it from my mother, who was an awesome seamstress. She believed in pre-washing and drying all fabric to both shrink it and make sure it was color fast. She thought dryers were the world's best invention because they would shrink any fabric that could shrink.

    Wash dark colors with dark colors and light colors with light colors; that's pretty basic. Put your small pieces in a mesh lingerie bag. I use large ones. Do not "stuff" the bag. Water needs to flow around the fabric freely. (My mom made "mesh" bags out of garden netting.) This significantly reduces fraying. For large pieces of fabric that will not fit in the bags, sew a tight (short) stitch along all raw edges. This will significantly reduce fraying, and will be cut off when you "square up" the fabric. Any color thread will do; I just use whatever is on my machine. Wash in warm water. Mom figured warm was the hottest she'd ever wash in, and if she used cold, eventually the item would probably end up in a warm water wash, so she needed to know how it would perform in warm water. She also added a cup or more of white vinegar "to set the colors". Obviously a little less with smaller loads. She swore by it, as did Grandma and Great Grandma, and they had learned it from their mothers. My mother and Grandmothers are women from the Depression years who did not believe in waste; I have to believe they used vinegar here for a good reason. I have no statistics on this, but I've always used vinegar and I've never had any color bleed or fade, so there you have it. Maybe someone could enlighten us as to why this works? Mom always used half the amount of detergent she would use for a load that size. She said you really don't need much, just enough to get basically clean fabric clean, and to get the colors running if they're going to run. She also believed in drying the fabric until it was dry, and said the dryer was the best thing for making sure the fabric shrank as much as it was ever going to shrink. If you took it out damp, it still had the potential to shrink some more. So that's what I do. I wish I had her "coke bottle sprinkler" (remember those?), but I don't, so I use the sprayer on the iron, and also some spray starch to add some body back into the fabric. I press more than iron in the sense that I try to be careful not to stretch the fabric as I ironing. So there's more "picking up and putting down" of the iron until it's virtually dry (from the spraying and starch) and then I'll run my iron over it to smooth it.

    The only tedious part is the ironing, and that goes pretty well with some upbeat rock in the background!

  17. #17
    Super Member Gramie bj's Avatar
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    Wash, with color catcher, and dry as if it was already sewn into a quilt I do not always iron before folding just smooth out by hand and wind on boards for storage, I always have to press when it cones off the board to be used, and they still look good on the boards with just a hand pressing small pieces go into a sweater zip bag and treated the same way. I do this for color bleading and shrinkage.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngelinaMaria
    Okay, sorry another question that comes up is are you pressing the fabric or ironing?? Since it is such a large piece, many of my pieces for this Christmas project will be 1 to 3 yard pieces, do you "press" or iron? So far, when working with the large pieces like this to get wrinkles and folds out, I do a combination of pressing and gentle ironing.

    If you were to truly press a 1 to 3 yard peice (and you have 10 of the same size), it would take hours and hours to complete.
    My machine has an express programme which takes 1/2 hour. I wash at 40 degrees, fast spin, then iron straight away using spray starch, on the wrong side. 3 yard pieces are a bit unwieldy but managable! I watch TV at the same time so that the time passes more quickly!

  19. #19
    Super Member chairjogger's Avatar
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    for 1/2 or less yard.. of dark colors for looking to see if fabric bleeds:
    Clear bowl, very warm// near hot water and dawn dishsoap. single.. all alone.. and squeeze, squeeze ,ect..

    workes to get color water or plain water.

    Normal washing is in machine with fabric soap and no softener. But, never really see water .. That is why the clear bowl and a single wash..

    good luck !

  20. #20
    Super Member DebsShelties's Avatar
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    I start by stitching a 1/4 inch seam on the raw edges, I use cool water in my machine, with color catchers and 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to set the colors
    after washing, I dry high heat till dry.
    Yeah they are wrinkled, I fold and put away, ironing when I am ready to use the fabric.

  21. #21
    Senior Member auniqueview's Avatar
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    When you dye eggs for Easter, you put vinegar in the water to set the color. Makes sense that it would set fabric dye. Our gg and gmothers knew what they were doing, lol.

    I wash in cold, use hot dryer, just like I would for any other laundry.

  22. #22
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    I pre-wash all my Fabric in cold water with a cup of vinegar if they are red mixes. Also starch all my fabric, makes it easier to cut and sew. Yes you can buy color catcher at Wal-mart. Happy Quilting

  23. #23
    Super Member Rann's Avatar
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    Bring your daughter in one the big secret and let her help. That'll make her feel really special.

  24. #24
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    Wow! So many suggestions! So many steps many of you do that I don't!!! It seems so easy to me the way I do it.

    1a) If small, or look likely to run, I put them in a bin in the laundry (or kitchen) sink and soak in HOT water (I don't know at what temperature the quilt owner will use);

    1b) If large I put it in my wonderful new machine on "handwash" using hot water (my old machine had a off/on cycle for delicates);

    2) if one runs I use salt in cold water to stabilize it;

    3) I put it in the dryer and set the control to just below the "normal" setting so it won't overdry;

    4) When I take it from the dryer (right away when the dryer buzzes or my alarm goes off) I hang it over the top of my drying rack to finish drying or the back of the couch on an old blanket if it is really a large piece (because if you leave it in the dryer too long it isn't soft and is rudely wrinkled!); if it is several yards of fabric my husband always sweetly helps me so I can fold it before leaving it to dry more;

    5) I DON'T worry about unraveling on the edges -- never had a problem with this and wonder if fabrics are made better than they used to be, or is it that I use 100% cottons only? I NEVER iron beyond smoothing with my hands, with the exception of the ocassional wrinkle (and I can't remember the last time that came up). I DON'T use starch because some fusibles say not to and I do some applique frequently (see my avatar).

    6) If we are making the quilts for someone else we can't know how it will be washed and dryed so I try to cover all the basis. One daughter washed her kids quilts every two weeks in hottest water on regular cycle because of family allergies! After she brought one back to me after about 5 years (my first quilt ever) and asked me to mend it she washed them on "gentle" from then on, at my suggestion. LOL

    But my time if valuable and I'm not going to do more than I feel I must!

  25. #25
    Senior Member Quilterfay's Avatar
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    www.harmonyhanddyes.com is a really good site for info on coloring fabric.

    Quilterfay

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