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Thread: Unwashed vs. Washed Fabric

  1. #1
    Super Member jillaine's Avatar
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    I am learning so much on this board. Thank you everyone for sharing all your incredible experience.

    I was always told to pre-wash my fabric before quilting or any sewing for that matter; in fact, the FIRST thing I do when I get home from the fabric store is throw my new fabric into the washing machine.

    But I've seen reference to preferences for unwashed fabric. And on e-bay I'll often see -- for example -- jelly rolls that contain unwashed fabric. (And what the heck do you do about THAT? Seems like washing 2.5" strips would be a nightmare.)

    So are y'all willing to share your experience again on this topic? When would one want to work with unwashed fabric?

    Thanks!

    -- Jillaine

  2. #2
    Super Member Murphy's Avatar
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    I never prewash my fabric (smile). It is a matter of preference for most people.

  3. #3
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    I would never prewash jelly rolls, but I know that some people have allergies and have to.

  4. #4
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    I only prewash fabric if I am using it with other fabric that has already been washed.

  5. #5
    Magdalena's Avatar
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    I pre-wash everything from a fat-quarter and up. I don't wash jelly rolls, charms or cakes.

  6. #6
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy
    I never prewash my fabric (smile). It is a matter of preference for most people.
    Ditto. Plus I really dislike white solid in quilts anyway, and decided long ago that I won't ever make a red and white quilt. So that cuts down on a lot of the problems right there. ;-)

    I do prewash some fabrics I buy internationally, like batiks (not those that are commercially manufactured). But that's it. I can't be bothered, and I've never had a problem.

  7. #7
    Super Member Rose L's Avatar
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    I only pre-wash things that will likely fade and run, like Reds. Other wise I piece the quilt and when it's finished I give it a soak, not an agitation, and then dry it to remove most of the dies, finishes and get some shrinkage on it. Once quilted and binded I wash again with agitation and dry in the dryer to make sure it's completely clean and nice and fluffy. I might do things differently if were a heirloom quilt, but one that is to be used by family and babies etc. get the washing treatment.

  8. #8
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    I really like it! :)

  9. #9
    Senior Member craftyone27's Avatar
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    I only prewash when I have to - like for a block swap on this board-LOL. My most recent experience w/that reinforced my feeling that I don't need to prewash. The focus fabric in the block swap was black. I purchased two different black fabrics to use in the swap and was dreading the washing process. I loaded the washer with color-catchers and crossed my fingers. Neither of the black fabrics ( or any of the other colors) bled!!! I will happily continue to NOT WASH my fabrics until after my quilts are done!

  10. #10
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    I only pre-wash flannel fabrics. They all shrink so differently!!
    Also, I never use a pure white, maybe a white on white occasionally and hardly use reds. I always wash my quilts before going out the door with a couple color catchers and with the over 200 quilts I have made thus far, have never had a problem with bleeding or excessive shrinkage.

  11. #11
    Super Member Lynnie25's Avatar
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    I only prewash Reds, Navy Blues and Blacks. Otherwise I never pre-wash fabrics.

    I never wash my quilts after they are completed either unless I have marked them quite heavily for quilting. If I give a quilt away (very rarely), I always include washing instructions in the label.

  12. #12
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    I prewash every piece of fabric I buy. Even jelly rolls. I just washed 3 sets of jellyrolls tonight. I swished them around in the sink with warm soapy water, ran them under running water to rinse, squeezed them out, and put them in the dryer. They came out wrinkled, but intact. Just have to iron and starch them.
    But that's just my preference.
    However, I sewed clothing for many many years, and ALWAYS prewashed garment fabric.

  13. #13
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I don't prewash. I quit prewashing years ago and haven't had a single problem.

  14. #14
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    I prewash everything, even if it means really having to take time with it. Here (Aus.) we don't use our dryers much, so everything gets line dried. I then fold it up at put away. Nothing gets ironed or starched 'til I'm ready to use it.

  15. #15
    Super Member frarose's Avatar
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    I always buy quilt shop name brand fabrics and never wash. I use to always wash and then found that I like working with the unwashed fabrics and I like how my quilts looks after washing. They take on that old look and I like that.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy
    I never prewash my fabric (smile). It is a matter of preference for most people.
    Ditto. I don't even join swaps where you are supposed to prewash. It truly is a matter of personal preference.

  17. #17
    Super Member Lilrain's Avatar
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    There are two schools of thought on this subject. Some never wash, and some quilt teachers claim it is not necessary unless you feel it will bleed and possibly ruin your quilt.

    I have heard of people who had problems when using Bali Pops or Jelly Rolls, and the finished quilt having faded or runny fabrics.

    I wash some, and not others. But, always am consistant in the same project. If I was one piece I wash it all.

    I have had some bad experiences when I did not wash, like an unreasonable amount of shrinkage. Also prewashed a back one time and had it go from bright and cheerful to looking stonewashed after the laundry process.

    Some people wash strips or small pieces in lingerie bags.

    I usually prewash my cotton batting, as I do not like that shrunken look.

  18. #18
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    :D I was always taught to pre-wash before sewing. Some say that is just if you are making garments. But you know how hard habits are to break. I recently purchased some jelly rolls and layer cakes and I did pre-wash them. I realized that I needed some more of the same fabric so I purchased the same jelly roll. On the same day I received in the mail a jelly roll book and one on the first things I read was NOT TO PRE-WASH. I figured that since I had already prewashed the first roll I had better do the same with this roll. I put them in a bucket and ran hot water on them. I couldn't believe the difference in the size of the strips. I did steam iron them and was able to get them back to almost the same size. The next Jelly Roll I will not pre-wash and then after I make the quilt I can compare them. I feel that you always have to pre-wash some fabrics that you know will srink. So I think it's something that you have to figure out which you like best. We all are different (that's what makes the world go round). Good luck to you. Brenda

  19. #19
    Super Member pojo's Avatar
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    I never pre wash my fabric.
    Your choice.
    Use color catchers in the washer.

  20. #20
    k3n
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    I prewash everything except fabric for stack n whack and One Block Wonder quilts but must say I've never had anything bleed (except one or two batiks)or shrink noticeabley. I hardly buy charms or jelly rolls but wouldn't prewash those... so why do I prewash my regular fabric? Dunno! I LIKE doing it then pressing it all nice and flat then folding it neatly away into my stash! Plus sometimes it smells of that formaldehyde type stuff and I don't like that. :mrgreen: :D

  21. #21
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    I prewash all my fabric, I don't purchase jelly rolls so no problem there. I recently purcheased some fabric by South Sea Imports from a quilt shop, it was green and I put it in a basin of hot water to soak to see if it would fade. I ended up soaking a washing it six or seven times before it stopped bleeding. So you never know.

  22. #22
    Senior Member scrapykate's Avatar
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    I prewash flannels and batiks if when tested they run. I always use a color catcher when I wash my quilts at the end. so far i've not had any problems with not prewashing.

  23. #23
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    pre-cuts are always an issue when it comes to pre-washing/not pre-washing. ...
    most of the shops, manufacturer sites will tell you with today's fabric making techniques it is no longer necessary to pre-wash. pre-cuts are cut with the belief they will NOT be pre-washed. they will shrink a little and no longer be the pre-cut pieces you thought you had. some people no matter what have to pre-wash, if that is the case i would avoid pre cuts at all cost and if somehow it was necessary for me to use a pre-cut i would put them into a mesh bag wash very gently (just enough to remove the chemicals/sizing in the fabric then i would wring out well and iron dry.
    when i purchase new yardage i pre-wash it if it is a color that commonly bleeds (reds, blacks) i pre-wash if the fabric has a funky smell or a funky feel to it. there is something very nice about the feel of freshly laundered cotton fabric. then press with a little sizing or starch if needed; but if the fabric is damp when you are ironing it you should not have to add anything.
    oh and i ALWAYS pre-wash if it 's batik's or hand-dyes.
    i don't worry too much about it if it is a printed fabric from a (big) manufacturere-but i do test to make sure nothing is going to run.

  24. #24
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    I prewash everything. I'd hate to work so hard on a project and then have it bleed or something. Many have used color catchers or haven't noticed a problem, but still...I'm nervous! :D

  25. #25
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    I prewash everything. I'd hate to work so hard on a project and then have it bleed or something. Many have used color catchers or haven't noticed a problem, but still...I'm nervous! :D

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