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Thread: Two reasons I wash/shrink all washable components - - -

  1. #1
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    Two reasons I wash/shrink all washable components - - -

    These comments are for items that will probably require washing at some time (I haven't done wall-hangings, but I just took a couple of cloth items down yesterday - they are very dusty and I think they need to be bathed)

    Two reasons why I wash/shrink all washable components of an item before cutting them:

    1) I'm frugal (I hate the word 'cheap') - I see no reason to have to spend additional money on Retayne, Sythrapol, color catchers/grabbers, or any other color fixatives or color removers. If there is a serious issue with a fabric, I want to know about it before it's part of a project. If I wanted to play with those chemicals, I would learn how to dye fabric myself.

    2) I'm lazy (I will have to think of a better word for 'lazy') -

    a) I don't want to spend any time on trying to remove color/dye from surrounding fabrics
    b) I don't want to try to block something back into shape because of uneven shrinkage or the fabric reverted to it's natural state
    c) I want the item to not require 'special handling' when it's laundered
    c) I don't want to have to 'think/worry' about how a particular item will look after it has been washed (assuming the item has not been bleached, burned, or torn)

    I have had a couple of 'not so great' experiences - so that's why I'm so seriously into 'preventive maintenance' - it's just easier for me to spend an additional few minutes prepping than to spend hours trying to undo a mess that could have been avoided.

    I know there are many on this board that say they have never had a problem, or don't see any shrinkage - I have -

  2. #2
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    this is my philosophy as well
    Nancy in western NY
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  3. #3
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Back when I was learning to sew, Mom tought me to always be suspious of Red , and Purple fabrics for bleading. Since my sewing constisted of garment making preshrinking was manitory. Remember all that gauzy type fabric of the late 60's early 70's looked great on the bolt but shrunk and wrinkled like no other. Learned my lesson the hard way after making a shirt out of that fabric as I did not want the pain of getting all the wrinkles out prior to construction from prewashing. Well after all me work .. only was able to wear it once ... it shrunk about 20 %.
    Then came the world of Poly and the need to preshrink was now a thing of the past. .. as was ironing! 100 percent cotton was scorned by fabric stores and it was dirt cheap to buy as no one wanted the fabric that had to be ironed and was going to shrink.
    Then the rotary cutter was invented and revived the art of quilting , and cotton fabrics became more prevelant and gained popularity. The lessons I learned way back had to be relived if to avoid some of the issues I had associated with garment making. Even though the industry has come far in methods of manufactring and printing... they still have not "solved" the fundimental issues associated with 100 percent cotton fabrics. They do shrink ( it just depends on how much) and no manufacture guarentees against bleeding/running. So understanding the potential issues , I prewash all most all of my fabrics .
    As for the use of Syntropol or Retayne... when working with batiks specifcally , one wash is often not sufficent to remove the unset dye. This is where my "cheapness" shows.... I would rather spend the small amount of $$ to resolve the issue ONCE and for all than to find out later that the unset dye was not sufficently dealt with the first ime around. Some batiks specifically the watercolor will bleed almost forever till the fabric is faded beyond the appeal it once had. To preserve the original appeal of color depth .. yes I will pretreat rather than toss it ,or wash and wash and wash.
    I have learned that each quilter develops a guideline they use for fabrics and what their comfort level is. This can be altered typically by an experience.
    Sorry I got so carried away in my response.

  4. #4
    Junior Member coffeebreak's Avatar
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    Boy do I agree with you there...except... I don't call it "frugal"...I call it intelligent! I mean come on...why take the risk of wasting a ton of time fixing problems that just a toss in the washer will prevent!

    However....I will use the color catchers on reds. I pre washed some red I used to make an American Flag tumbler quilt...but once finished, and I washed the quilt to finish it off...and the red ran! Even after I pre washed it! So it basically ruined the quilt cause the red ran to the white. I bleached and a few other things ,but the red never left. So now.. I will use the color catchers on red fabrics...and even went a second step and use it for all darker colors...even when I wash them with only darks what can run...will. But I have not had that problem on any other color.
    Last edited by coffeebreak; 10-19-2012 at 06:15 AM. Reason: add something

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    Super Member alwayslearning's Avatar
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    Experience is a great teacher. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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  6. #6
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    One wash is often not enough, especially when dealing with a dye that is not set. I use Retayne whenever necessary and consider it the best procedure for me.

  7. #7
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I've found that "soaking" works waaaay better than "washing" when it comes to bleeding fabrics. When I wash, even with commercial dye setters, I can still get bleeding. However, soaking the fabric for several hours seems to do the trick.

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    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I'm not cheap but I am lazy. LOL I test for bleeding but don't prewash quilting fabric. I wash the finished quilt in hot water and Tide on heavy cycle. It will be the only hard wash it will get. My family knows to wash all quilts in warm water on delicate cycle and Woolite and that is what I tell the receiver of any of my quilts how to wash it.
    Got fabric?

  9. #9
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I agree with you 100%. I don't like to work with or keep fabrics in my sew room until all the harsh chemicals are washed out.

  10. #10
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    Boy, am I on the other side of the coin from all of you. I noticed no one who doesn't pre-wash respond to this thread, so I thought I would be the one who did. I have never pre-washed before and have made a lot of quilts. I just started using batiks, so I can't tell you the outcome of it yet. I have Retayne and Syntropol and I don't know which I would use when I go to wash it, but I will investigate further and find out.

    But I have never had any bleeding of any sort and I have used every color with white. I always wash on delicate and in cold water and dry on air dry. I don't know if that makes a difference, but like I said, I have had no problems YET!

    I use precuts quite a bit and do not want to wash them ever. I don't want to wash any of my fabric. I like the feel of the fabric off the bolt. But, if something bleeds on me one time, I will be singing a different song. One like you all are singing, I'm sure.

    And I wouldn't call you lazy at all. I call myself "lazy". I don't want to hassle with washing and drying and IRONING the fabric after washing it. Now, that's lazy. Ironing is my least favorite part of sewing. Cutting is my favorite. I'm a strange one in that department. Most people don't like to cut. I have complete quilts cut out and set aside. At least 5 of them.

    Now remember, I might be singing a different song if something bleeds! I might join your camp. And I admire all of you that go to all the trouble of washing your fabric before using it. I applaud you all!!
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
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  11. #11
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    Boy, am I on the other side of the coin from all of you. I noticed no one who doesn't pre-wash respond to this thread, so I thought I would be the one who did. I have never pre-washed before and have made a lot of quilts. I just started using batiks, so I can't tell you the outcome of it yet. I have Retayne and Syntropol and I don't know which I would use when I go to wash it, but I will investigate further and find out.

    But I have never had any bleeding of any sort and I have used every color with white. I always wash on delicate and in cold water and dry on air dry. I don't know if that makes a difference, but like I said, I have had no problems YET!

    I use precuts quite a bit and do not want to wash them ever. I don't want to wash any of my fabric. I like the feel of the fabric off the bolt. But, if something bleeds on me one time, I will be singing a different song. One like you all are singing, I'm sure.

    And I wouldn't call you lazy at all. I call myself "lazy". I don't want to hassle with washing and drying and IRONING the fabric after washing it. Now, that's lazy. Ironing is my least favorite part of sewing. Cutting is my favorite. I'm a strange one in that department. Most people don't like to cut. I have complete quilts cut out and set aside. At least 5 of them.

    Now remember, I might be singing a different song if something bleeds! I might join your camp. And I admire all of you that go to all the trouble of washing your fabric before using it. I applaud you all!!
    Me too, I never prewash. I am lazy, its a lot more work to prewash and re-iron, etc. which is funny that she said that she is lazy when it is more work to prewash. I just made a patriotic quilt with reds, and blues using a jelly roll, lets cross our fingers because its a gift for a veteran friend of mine.
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    Actually, I do SOAK my fabrics now - in hot water - for a couple of hours now - I had one piece recently that turned the water blood red (it had red in the print, but red was not the dominant color) the moment it got wet!

    I think it is the agitation of being washed in the washer and drying in a dryer that makes fabric look 'used/worn' as much as being subjected to hot water and soaking.

  13. #13
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    "2) I'm lazy (I will have to think of a better word for 'lazy') -" I think you are 'efficient'. You expend a small amount of effort instead of a larger amount after an accident.
    I pre wash everything too. While I am concerned about bleeding, my biggest issue is shrinkage. I was amazed to find that every fabric I have prewashed (except batiks) shrinks WOF. I had been measuring the fabric before and after washing and was thinking that maybe I should stop because the purchased yardage was the same. 39" in, 39" out. I never measured WOF. I got a bargain and purchased about 8 yards of a high end fabric. I only needed a yard, so I cut that from the length and washed it. I wanted to see if the metallic had faded so I laid the laundered piece against the unwashed one. I was amazed that it had shrunk almost 3" WOF. After that I started measuring the before and after WOF. It all shrunk. If I'm going to be very careful about cutting and piecing, i don't want the final product to get distorted.
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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I'm with jcrow.

    Synthrapol and Retayne are not expensive, especially since they are used in small quantities. Synthrapol is similar in composition to Dawn dishwashing liquid, so there is no issue about weird chemicals with it. Not sure about Retayne, but that I use only on "bleeder" fabrics to see if they will stop bleeding. I haven't had a bleeder fabric in several years, so it's pretty much a non-issue.

    I always do a first wash of a quilt in Synthrapol with lots of hot water, and have never had a quilt get stained with dye bleeds.

    Fabrics will shrink in different proportions when washed by themselves. When quilted to a batting, however, the batting controls shrinkage and does not allow fabrics to shrink or distort more than the batting itself does. I once attended a class with Harriet Hargrave where she passed around an entirely *flannel* quilt she had made to prove that even flannel does not need to be pre-washed if you do a reasonable amount of quilting to bind the layers together.

    Unwashed fabrics have more body, making accurate cutting and piecing easier for me. To achieve a similar stabilization with prewashed fabric, I would have to apply starch.

    I would call *myself* the lazy quilter! I save the time and energy involved in washing, drying, ironing, and folding fabrics. I can go directly from unpacking my fabric purchases to cutting and sewing a quilt. If we're looking at cost savings, I would venture to say that the cost of my bottles of Synthrapol and Retayne have been paid for several times over by savings in electricity and soap.

    Different people are comfortable with different approaches to quilting. I think preferring to prewash is just another one of those comfort-level questions that every quilter has to answer for herself.

    Incidentally, I started out as a prewasher! That was several decades ago, and I have to say I have been a very happy non-prewasher for a long time now. For me, it is a great relief not to have to do all that extra work before I can start on a quilt.

    Edit: PaperPrincess. Instead of washing and measuring fabrics on their own, try quilting the fabric strips to batting and backing first. I think you will find that the shrinkage on all strips will be the amount that the batting shrinks; the differing amounts that fabrics shrink on their own will become a non-issue.
    Last edited by Prism99; 10-19-2012 at 08:49 AM.

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    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I'm with the no pre-wash girls.

    I've been doing laundry for about 40 years, give or take a couple. Fabric is fabric and in those 40 years I've had exactly *1* thing pick up a color bleed and it not wash out. And I did that *with* bleach. After getting color catchers I discovered lots and lots of fabrics bleed forever, no matter how many times they've been washed and dried.

    Batting controls the fabric shrinkage in quilts. If you don't want shrinkage then either use poly batting or a cotton batting that can be pre-shrunk. For that matter I've even mixed pre-washed and not pre-washed in the same quilt and it was totally fine. You couldn't tell which was which after the quilt was finished and washed.

    Pre-washing fabric is an entirely different issue if you're allergic to the finishing chemicals.

    I don't want to spend my time washing and ironing fabric. I'd rather just sew.

  16. #16
    Super Member grammysharon's Avatar
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    I agree, I prewash all of my fabric, even preshrink my batting!!!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnNan View Post
    this is my philosophy as well
    A quilt is a blanket of love. Sharon

  17. #17
    Super Member mcdaniel023's Avatar
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    I am not a pre washer either. I don't want to do all of that ironing. I just make sure I wash the finished quilts in lots of water and a couple of color catchers. I have even did this with a batik braid. As of now, no problems. I am not saying it will never. One day it probably will. I will have to live with the results.
    Like I have said before, if I had to wash and iron all of the fabric before I started a quilt, I wouldn't make as many as I do and I sure wouldn't enjoy the process as much.
    Happy Quilting.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcrow View Post
    Boy, am I on the other side of the coin from all of you. I noticed no one who doesn't pre-wash respond to this thread, so I thought I would be the one who did. I have never pre-washed before and have made a lot of quilts. I just started using batiks, so I can't tell you the outcome of it yet. I have Retayne and Syntropol and I don't know which I would use when I go to wash it, but I will investigate further and find out.

    But I have never had any bleeding of any sort and I have used every color with white. I always wash on delicate and in cold water and dry on air dry. I don't know if that makes a difference, but like I said, I have had no problems YET!

    I use precuts quite a bit and do not want to wash them ever. I don't want to wash any of my fabric. I like the feel of the fabric off the bolt. But, if something bleeds on me one time, I will be singing a different song. One like you all are singing, I'm sure.

    And I wouldn't call you lazy at all. I call myself "lazy". I don't want to hassle with washing and drying and IRONING the fabric after washing it. Now, that's lazy. Ironing is my least favorite part of sewing. Cutting is my favorite. I'm a strange one in that department. Most people don't like to cut. I have complete quilts cut out and set aside. At least 5 of them.

    Now remember, I might be singing a different song if something bleeds! I might join your camp. And I admire all of you that go to all the trouble of washing your fabric before using it. I applaud you all!!


    I used to pre-wash but I am basically lazy and don't like to deal with it all either so don't anymore. (Except for flannel.)

    I don't use color catchers, those other chemicals, dryer sheets, or anything else except detergent, either on my cotton clothes or my quilts, and have no issues.

    I do test reds but have not found one that bleeds yet. (Test is put a scrap in warm water with soap and let it sit. If it is going to release the color it will do it then.)

  19. #19
    Senior Member SittingPretty's Avatar
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    I prewashed some fabric just last night. I had one fabric with a black background. I put it in a tub of water to see if it ran. Didn't think it did. Put it in with the rest of the fabric I was washing. A dark pink fabric appeared to run in the tub test, so I soaked it with water and Retayne. When I took the other fabric out of the dryer, I noticed that the fabric with the black background had bled a steak on some light pink fabric. Thank goodness it was only a small streak on only one part. None of the other fabric was bothered. I have enough fabric that I can cut out the streak and still have enough for my quilt. I will be soaking the black fabric with Retayne before I use it, however. I expect all my quilts to be washed, and I wash them myself before I give them away. I don't like bad surprises, and I actually think this saves me time, rather than wastes it.
    SittingPretty

  20. #20
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    I am a pre-washer also for the reasons the OP stated and another more important reason (at least to me): I pre-wash to get the chemicals out of the fabric before I do a lot of handling of it. The chemicals make my hands become swollen, extremely dry and itchy. I have a terrible time in a quilt shop because I have to fondle all the fabrics. I love to feel the fabrics. I have a special cream that I got from the dermatologist that I have to apply after fabric shopping and when using pre cuts. I also have fingerless craft gloves that I wear while cutting and sewing. The tips of my fingers still get dry, itchy and cracked due to the exposure to the fabrics but it is better than having both of my hands completely reddened and inflamed. I have an auto immune disorder which affects mostly my skin and each year I am finding more and more things that cause a flare up.
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    I prewash in hot water with Retayne, like colors together. I just did a quilt for a client and she asked me to remove a spot where the spray starch had gotten a little thick. I used a damp white cloth and the excess starch was easily removed but so was the BLUE dye on the block. I warned the client so they could take precautions when laundering the quilt.
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  22. #22
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    I don't pre-wash, but I do test suspicious colors, especially batiks. I have only found a couple that ran over the years, and color catchers usually solve the problem. I did buy a Gee's Bend quilt kit and the fabrics ran a lot. The instructions had a warning about that and it took several washes to stop the running.
    Sue

  23. #23
    Senior Member captlynhall's Avatar
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    I pre-wash and iron with sizing before cutting. Although I machine piece, I hand quilt. If I am going to spend 9 months to a year to finish a quilt, then I'm not taking any chances that the fabrics will run or shrink. Besides, I enjoy all the processes of making a quilt, including the ironing and cutting. I'm not one to just want to 'get it done' so I can go on to the next quilt.
    When a dying man asked his pastor "How long does it take to die?" his pastor's heartfelt reply was "A lifetime." Live life to the fullest, but stop now and then to enjoy the sunset.
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  24. #24
    Super Member Amythyst02's Avatar
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    Well back in the day, Mom always said wash your fabric first!! And I always did. Til I started quilting. Most of my quilts have been lighter colors, pinks, lavendars, yellow etc. So I have had no issues with them. None of them have shrunk so far either. I guess I better just count my blessings while I am ahead : )
    Amythyst

  25. #25
    Member kskwilter's Avatar
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    I'm not lazy...but at times I am "output challenged"!!!

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