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

  1. #1
    Super Member katiebear1's Avatar
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    I am new to quilting,having just started this past summer. I am just now finishing my 6th project ( a King size quilt) I have also made 2 lap quilts and 2 table runners and a large wall hanging. I have only pre washed my fabric for a flannel lap quilt. (and what a mess with all the unravelling) I have since washed the table runners and they came out fine. Two of the ladies at my local quilt shop said they never pre wash.Most of my books say to pre wash but some say they don't pre wash. Any opinions on what is right?

  2. #2
    Junior Member rndelling's Avatar
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    I never prewash unless it's flannel or maybe a red. With the red I cut a small piece and put it in hot water to see if it'll fade. If it doesn't, I don't wash.
    I like the look of old quilts that kind of puckered because of the cotton batting they used so I just let the fabric do it's thing.
    There are alot of people who will tell you the exact opposite. I think it all comes down to personal preference.

  3. #3
    Super Member Dragonfly Nana's Avatar
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    Welcome. I am new on here also. The folks here are a wonderful group, incredible resource, and funny too.

    Oh this is a "chicken or the egg" question.
    I pre-wash all my fabrics to make sure any "sizing" is removed before I use it in a project. This also makes sure there will not be any bleeding of color, but you are right that some fabrics will fray.
    If you want to wash and avoid some of the fraying - baste the edges before you wash.

  4. #4
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    It is up to you. I don't wash unless it is flannel or for and exchange.

  5. #5
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    I always wash first in a lingerie bag or pillowcase. I've had several projects ruined by fabrics that bled. For example just this weekend I was prewashing fabric and several of them bled. And these aren't cheapo fabrics. One was a maroon, older Mumm fabric (from LQS not Joannes) and it got all over the pillowcase. I also had some batik type fabric run this weekend. Had I put those in a quilt I would have been very upset. Yes, the raveling can be a pain, but it hurts worse to lose a project you've been working on for weeks or months. In my book it's better to be safe than sorry.

    When I need the fabric, I iron it and starch it. Feels just like brand new again but it won't run! I agree most fabrics from Quilt stores don't bleed. But it's that 1-5% that are killers:<

  6. #6
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I don't think there is a "rule" UNLESS you participate in a swap - then washing is mandatory. If you feel comfortable not washing, then don't. If you worry about the darker colors running, then you can do a color test. (Putting a small piece in a glass of hot water or rubbing a damp white cloth over it). If it runs and you wash it - the rest of the fabric that goes with it should also be washed to set an even starting point. In the end - it's personal choice.

  7. #7
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    I wash all fabrics I use unless it is a jelly roll. I either serge the cut edges or zig-zag then to prevent them from fraying. Sometimes I find a fabric that shrinks or the color runs. I would rather have that happen before I use it ina quilt.

  8. #8
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    there are no quilt police!

    i only wash flannel and some solid colors & batiks.. that is all..no extra work here at this house!

  9. #9
    Senior Member ladygen's Avatar
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    I don't wash unless it's red or for a swap. However, I (typically) only use LQS fabric, which tends to shrink less, if at all.

  10. #10
    Super Member pittsburgpam's Avatar
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    I almost always wash unless it is a pre-cut like a jelly roll, charms, or layer cake. I wash fat quarters too and I'm working on a quilt right now where I need to cut two 8 1/2" squares across and some of the washed FQs are barely over 17" after being washed with shrinkage and fraying. I would rather it shrink before I cut out the pieces though.

    If you are wondering how much a fabric will shrink, cut a 4" square, wash and dry it, then see what size it is afterwards.

  11. #11
    Power Poster dkabasketlady's Avatar
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    I prewash everything before using it, that's the way my mom taught me. Also I was told that if you use pinking shears on the ends of material before washing they won't ravel as much. I haven't tried this yet, but would be interested in knowing if it works. I don't have any material that needs washed at this time or I'd try it myself.

  12. #12
    Junior Member Shiloh's Avatar
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    I use my serger on the edges to prevent all of the threads in the washer & dryer and yes, I do wash and dry and iron my fabric. Don't want to take any chances on bleeding or more shrinkage in one fabric than another. It's a carryover from my days of sewing garments.
    Gerry

  13. #13
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i wash everything in the hottest water it can stand. even hotter. than i dry in the hottest. let it shrink now. do you think it would work with humans, too?

  14. #14
    Super Member Beachbound's Avatar
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    I always wash first & if it's a dark color I throw in a color catcher sheet to pick up the extra color. It really helps a lot.

  15. #15
    Senior Member pam1966's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    i wash everything in the hottest water it can stand. even hotter. than i dry in the hottest. let it shrink now. do you think it would work with humans, too?
    That would be nice. :lol:

    I pre-wash. Also a habit carried over from when I used to sew clothing. I've had two identical sized pieces of fabric from the same collection shrink at different rates- one actually shrunk almost an inch more than the other one.

    But if you do the "bleed test", and if you don't care that it might shrink up some, then do whatever you want. Sometimes if it's heavily quilted you might not notice much shrinkage.

  16. #16
    Super Member katiebear1's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for all the input.

  17. #17
    Super Member katiebear1's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for all the input

  18. #18
    Super Member katiebear1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rndelling
    I never prewash unless it's flannel or maybe a red. With the red I cut a small piece and put it in hot water to see if it'll fade. If it doesn't, I don't wash.
    I like the look of old quilts that kind of puckered because of the cotton batting they used so I just let the fabric do it's thing.
    There are alot of people who will tell you the exact opposite. I think it all comes down to personal preference.
    I too like that look. The table runners I washed came out looking like that. I like the cotton batting. It makes everything look more "quilty"

  19. #19
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    I never wash quilt shop fabric, even flannel

    UNLESS there is red or a dark blue or black. But I will wash all the fabric for the quilt so they shrink (or dont shrink) the same when quilt is done. And remember to keep lights and darks separated.

    and I run a straight stitch around the edge of the fabric to help with fraying before washing.

    I like my quilts with a little dimension, not all flat and well, flat. There is nothing wrong with flat, everyone has their own taste. So the minimal shrinking that occurs is just right for me and everyone i have made a quilt for loves it too.

  20. #20
    obxqwlter's Avatar
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    I NEVER wash...If I did I would never get any quilting done. Plus I like the stiffness of the sizing and the puckered look after washing.
    My best story is a quilt I made a few years back. It was a signature quilt with white white for the sig block and 25 different reds some of which "bled" on my hands while sewing. I am a tried and true fan of Shout® Color Catcher®. I usually throw a few in with any quilt...they work like a charm...and on my red project there was NO pink on my white!

  21. #21
    Junior Member nantucketsue's Avatar
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    I do usually pre-wash as I mainly hand quilt, but I did not pre-wash the last one I made as I thought that as the cotton batting was likely to shrink then the fabrics would shrink with it. This worked out well actually and I was very pleased with the result, but the hand quilting was more difficult as the fabric had not been softened by pre-washing.

  22. #22
    Junior Member bearspaws's Avatar
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    I just bought a bali pop, of course it's all just dark batik fabrics that I have no idea if it's colorfast-how do you prewash something like a bali pop??
    Evelyn

  23. #23
    Senior Member Rachel's Avatar
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    It all depends... I like to wash dark colors (especially reds and purples) but hardly ever wash my whites/beiges... But once the quilt is finished, I always wash it with Retayne.

  24. #24
    Junior Member lovetoquilt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by butterflywing
    i wash everything in the hottest water it can stand. even hotter. than i dry in the hottest. let it shrink now. do you think it would work with humans, too?
    I agree with butterflywing, I wash everything as soon as I get it home in the hottest water and in the the hottest dryer. I had rather it shrink or fade then than in my finished quilt.

  25. #25
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    Well here is another question. I'm in the home stretch of finishing the baby quilt I started a few months ago and I thought before I gave it to the mother to be I'd have it dry cleaned or washed before I gave it to her. It's had a long road of being toted back and forth. Any thoughts on this?

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