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Thread: To wash or not to wash.. That is the question

  1. #1
    Fabriclovr
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    Question To wash or not to wash.. That is the question

    This has been a life long question, to prewash your fabric or not to prewash. I prefer not to wash because after I do the quilting and finish the binding, I put the whole quilt in the wash with hot water and a cold rinse to get the 'crinkled, home feel' to the quilt. Yes, I understand that red does bleed and so do a lot of other colors, but if you choose your colors correctly, all should blend and you wont have any issues. Ok, stop screaming, I hear you.. white.. ok, I have never and I repeat, never had any issues. Besides, they make color catcher sheets and other nifty things these days to catch running dyes.

    So what is your take on this question, wash or don't wash?

  2. #2
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    I do not wash as well. My LQS owner does not wash hers - so I'm following her lead. There was a speaker at our Guild who said she wasn't a washer, but has switched to washing because of more fabrics bleeding now days. With the cost going up I would hope the bleeding would NOT be an issue. With that said, I have Shout Color Catchers in my cupboard that I always use after finishing a quilt - and have NOT had a problem.

    Drew

  3. #3
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    I don't wash, not reds or any other color.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Connie M.'s Avatar
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    I used to was everything when I sewed only garments, but since becoming a quilter, I do not wash my quilting fabric, and I have never had a problem, but I also use a couple of color catchers in the wash and have never used an obvious "bleeder" I like working with nice crisp unwashed fabric. It doesn't fray so much and just seems nicer to work with. I usually used w & n batting and I like the crinkle I get when washed. If I come upon a piece of fabric I want to use that I have washed, from my earlier days, I just starch the daylight out of it and press it well.

  5. #5
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    I do both. If I have a fabric that I suspect will fade, I wash. For most fabrics, I don't wash. I also use color catchers with my finished quilts.

  6. #6
    Super Member JenniePenny's Avatar
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    You'll get hundreds of answers. Pro's and con's. This topic has even taken an ugly turn many times here. Best advice- do what you have always done- whichever camp you are from.
    "He who masters the grey everyday is a hero."
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  7. #7
    Member catlinye_maker's Avatar
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    I wash, always. Every time I have not washed, something has bled badly. Once a red applique rose bled into the white background of a piece I'd spent many many hours hand appliqueing. Thank god it washed out with several rinse and a handful of color catchers. Never again. Everything goes right from the shop bag into the laundry hamper, and if I am afraid it might still bleed (had one red that bled after several washings) it gets tested with white fabric.

  8. #8
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    I was a 'washer of all things fabric' but now I only was batiks and something that I'm worried about for some reason. With that being said, I end up washing almost everything since (until recently) 90% of my purchases were batik.

  9. #9
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    I wash almost everything, mostly because I hate the formaldehyde they use to keep the cotton from attracting bugs or wearing out in storage before it is sold. That said, if the pattern I am making has a lot of intricate pieces, I may skip the wash since the starch I use isn't as strong as that fabric finish they use on the new fabric.

    I like the crinkle effect as well, so I don't mind any shrinkage in the washing machine afterwards. All of my quilts are made to be washable and to wear well.

    Pretty much the wash/ not to wash question is a matter of preference.
    VickyS

  10. #10
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    I've never prewashed before but recently made a quilt that I wanted a smoother finish on (less puckering) so prewashed the fabric... Hated working with the washed fabric but loved the result. I will likely prewash again but it won't be my default choice.

  11. #11
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I wash everything before I sew it. I have been glad I did...several times!

  12. #12
    Fabriclovr
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    Quote Originally Posted by VickyS View Post
    I wash almost everything, mostly because I hate the formaldehyde they use to keep the cotton from attracting bugs or wearing out in storage before it is sold. That said, if the pattern I am making has a lot of intricate pieces, I may skip the wash since the starch I use isn't as strong as that fabric finish they use on the new fabric.
    I used to be an assistant manager at a House of Fabrics before they closed their doors, let me tell you, the formaldehyde was so strong that it took me a couple of weeks of nose bleeds to get used to it, so I fully understand the need to wash in that case. But, did you know that starch attracts bugs? Here is a snip from an article on e-quilter .com

    Ever since reading Robbie Fanning's book on machine quilting, I starch the living daylights out of my fabric, to whit: I iron the prewashed stuff with heavy starch just before cutting (don't leave it folded after starching or you will get a very difficult to remove wrinkle or crease) Then I starch each time I press any seam. It gives a really fine, crisp line and by halfway through the texture of the quilt top is like card stock. If you're doing any embroidery or applique, it is much easier--almost a built in stabilizer. However, something Robbie does not caution but is essential for anyone hoping to preserve their quilts--when you're done making the quilt, you MUST wash out the starch--silver fish just love starch (and I'll bet it's tasty for other creepy crawlies too) Don't leave starch in anything stored--also includes heirloom-sewn kids clothes which often are starched heavily as part of the lace attaching process.

    I too, love to use the starch on prewashed fabrics, but only use the starch on a current project, not fabric that you will be storing. Starch can also cause discolorations after time, so just be careful when you use starch.

  13. #13
    Fabriclovr
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    pros and cons I see coming to lite:

    If you wash, you must starch, but bugs love starch...

    Unwashed gives a nice crinkled effect after washing the finished quilt

    Washed then starched gives a wonderful 'flat' finish to your work

    Unwashed can run colors, but so can washed

    Unwashed you must handle with care in the steam from the iron as it will shrink unevenly, so a dry iron must be used.

    Formaldehyde is a nasty chemical!! No getting around that one.

    Starch can cause discolorations and make creases and wrinkles permanent.

    I guess it comes down to this. Treat your fabric as it would be treated in the end. In my case, I make quilts to be used, hens, washed again and again. I like the crinkled look, so I don't wash before but wash the hello out of it before it is used.

  14. #14
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
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    Agree whole heartedly with the above.

    This is what I do. I cut a small piece, couple of inches or so, and wet it down and rub it on a piece of white fabric. If color comes off I wash, if not I don't worry about it. I've only had a hand full of fabrics over the years that have run.

    Batik users should do this for all batiks. Some run pretty bad. Just my opinion.
    Have a great day sewing and remember to "not sweat the small stuff"!!



  15. #15
    Super Member Crqltr's Avatar
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    I just learned a lesson on washing.. I missed washing a fabric in ddil's king size quilt she was just given. My son put it in the dryer to freshen and get folds out of it, applied a little steam to help and one color ran all over white dashing around that block. Thank goodness I used it for just one block so the whole quilt was not ruined, happened to be on the bed over hang. But backing was ruined.

  16. #16
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I haven't pre-washed for over 20 years...and don't plan on going back to it...love working with the fabrics that still have their finishes in them...they sew so much better. I have never had a problem with bleeding...but...I only wash quilts later in warm water...never hot, and I never leave a wet quilt just sitting, always am right there to get the quilt to the rinse cycle, rinse several times, then spin and either lay flat to dry, or hang outside with a sheet over to protect the quilt, and some quilts I will throw in the dryer at least for part of the drying time.

  17. #17
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    it depends---some fabrics come through the door and straight into the washer-some don't get washed until the quilt is complete-
    just like everything else with quilting- every project is it's own- has it's own (feel) (personality) needs and requirements- each is treated as an individual -- some need to be prewashed- some do not --
    sometimes i am concerned about a fabric shrinking differently- sometimes the fabric has a funky smell- or feel to it-
    sometimes it has (old-set in) creases- washing helps remove them-
    if it's flannel i prewash unless it's for a raggy quilt- if it's batik or a hand dye i always prewash-
    if its pre-cuts i do not pre-wash. it all depends on the project and fabrics---there is no right or wrong- and no reason for people to get all freaked out about it-
    for 30 years i made clothes for my siblings, children, grandchildren- costumes- lots of different items- never once did i pre-wash any fabric i used---i never had an item shrink, run or fall apart because of it...it's only been since quilting that the whole (issue) has come up- before that i never even thought about it.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  18. #18
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I just did a DP9 without washing and I felt like such a rebel. lol
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  19. #19
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I prewash everything, primarily to remove the chemicals, finishes, and crud. Most of what I currently do is fused and the web will not adhere to unwashed fabric.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  20. #20
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider View Post
    I prewash everything, primarily to remove the chemicals, finishes, and crud. Most of what I currently do is fused and the web will not adhere to unwashed fabric.
    I don't know what kind of fusible you use but Wonder Under sticks just fine to unwashed fabric. I have used up yards and yards of Wonder Under on unwashed fabric and haven't had a problem yet.

  21. #21
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I have always been a washer...and STILL had a big problem. I made a quilt for my son. Mostly WOW and creams. All prewashed. After it was done, i decided to wash the WHOLE quilt. Well, I'm glad its for my son..and it was ME that washed it!


    The one on the left is before as it was being quilted. The one on the right is after. The blue from the border (I THINK) only dumped on certain fabrics. 2 in the cream rows and one in the white. DS thinks it looks like it was on purpose. I learned a valuable lesson! EVEN if you prewash? If the color catcher comes out DARK BLUE, wash it AGAIN! As always JMHO.
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  22. #22
    Fabriclovr
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    I don't know what kind of fusible you use but Wonder Under sticks just fine to unwashed fabric. I have used up yards and yards of Wonder Under on unwashed fabric and haven't had a problem yet.
    LOL, Wonder Under sticks to everything for me too.. the ironing board, the iron, the pressing sheet.........

  23. #23
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    I am just wondering WHY if you already know all of this, and you already know this is a lifelong question,(especially on this board), and you don't care to really hear WHY you should wash...just why did you even make this topic?

    the # reason you should ALWAYS wash is chemicals...period..the rest is irrelevant..because you can always add the sizing back in to give your NEW feel, but you won't have the chemicals to contend with!

  24. #24
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    Good example, soccertxi! I am so sorry this happened to you.

    I don't like to take risks, so I at least rinse a fabric before using. If it only bleeds a little, then I rinse until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding doesn't stop after a few rinses, it gets the Retayne treatment. Red, navy, purple, and black get Retayne no matter what.

    A few weeks ago I had a black piece of fabric that bled even after the Retayne treatment. It left a black waxy ring in the sink. It was discarded.

    My time is too precious to me to take chances in using something without taking precautions.

  25. #25
    Fabriclovr
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaciqltznok View Post
    I am just wondering WHY if you already know all of this, and you already know this is a lifelong question,(especially on this board), and you don't care to really hear WHY you should wash...just why did you even make this topic?
    I had several paragraphs written to respond to your statement, but what I want to know is if you didn't think I wanted to hear why, why did you tell me why you washed your fabric???

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