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Thread: Washed or unwashed fabric?

  1. #1
    Echoes's Avatar
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    I am very religious about pre washing my fabrics. When I started quilting that was what I was taught but now more people are not pre washing thier fabrics at all.

    I wash mine before using them or putting them into my stash. In classes I cough and sneeze if I sit close to someone who hasn't washed their fabric.

    So do you pre wash or not? If not may I ask why? One reason I hear is because unwashed fabric feels nicer to some folks. my reason is that I put alot of money and effort into my projects and sure would not want unwashed fabric to impact it down the line.

  2. #2
    quiltmaker101's Avatar
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    I always prewash - especially strong colors like reds and dark blues and greens. I don't want bleeding after all the work of piecing a top! And if the fabric was a real deal, or a batik, for sure it goes in the wash first.

    I just started buying Thimbleberries fabrics and they came with a note that they are made not to bleed, so prewashing is not necessary. Not even recommended!

    I am going to leave them unwashed and see what happens.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kara's Avatar
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    I'm a prewasher. It shrinks the fabric so you don't experience uneven shrinking later. Takes care of excess dye that you don't want elsewhere.

    And if you like the stiffness of new fabric, you can always starch it.

  4. #4
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    I prewash as I do have allergies and there are a lot of chemicals in fabric. As a matter of fact, it is one big chemical bath from start to finish. Marge

  5. #5
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    I don't prewash. I like how well unwashed fabrics work. I also really like the "shrunk, old fashioned" look of my quilts after I wash them when done. I use cotton batting and it all kinda shrinks together and I like the look. I wash everything before it goes out the door and I use color catchers. Have not had an issure with colors runnin at all. Then again I don't use many dark reds. I will, however, wash all my flannels before using as they have such different shrinkage rates and shrink a lot more than "normal" fabrics. I tend to buy only the better quality (LQS) quilt fabrics, had several issues in the past with the cheaper fabrics and don't wish to repeat that. I am fortunate as the starches in the fabrics do not bother me.

  6. #6

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    Echoes, I just love your quilt shown in the photo. Where did you get the pattern?

    No, I don't always wash my fabrics before cutting. When going to class I usually do if instructed to do so.

    NW Gal

  7. #7
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NW Gal
    Echoes, I just love your quilt shown in the photo. Where did you get the pattern?

    No, I don't always wash my fabrics before cutting. When going to class I usually do if instructed to do so.

    NW Gal
    NW Gal, you must be new, this was your first post. Just wanted to welcome you to the board. You can start an "Introduce Yourself" thread and let us know a little about you.

  8. #8
    bj
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    Super Member bj's Avatar
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    I don't usually prewash. I didn't know you were supposed to at first and didn't have any problems (so far) and so I just don't. I do prewash fatbacks to get some of the wrinkling out before I sandwich and quilt. Like Jim's Gem says, I do wash my quilts before I gift them.

  9. #9
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    I prewash with color catchers. I have a pink quilt to show for not prewashing. I want to know exactly what I will end up with not what the manufacturer has put in it.

  10. #10
    community benefactor Knot Sew's Avatar
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    Sometimes I do , Sometimes I don't. I buy it so its up to me. I have had no problems either way. :wink:

  11. #11
    2wheelwoman's Avatar
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    I prewash everything when it comes in the door, before it goes upstairs to my stash. I do like to iron it with a bit of starch to make it easier to work with, but just like knowing it is clean....and knowing it's all in the same "state" as far as pre-washed goes.

  12. #12
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    I'm not a big pre-washer. If it's red, black, or batik, I'll give it a wash. I love those color catchers. Salt and vinegar also work well. I also wash vintage fabrics I find, just to remove any stains and/or odors.

    But for the most part, I don't prewash. I love the crisp feel of unwashed fabric. And I'm lazy! LOL!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Machel's Avatar
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    I am not a prewasher, I also like the look of the shrinkage after everything is put together the old time look. Now I will wash reds if using light colors with the quilt.

  14. #14
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    this "argument" starts here at least once a month. here's what i find more ironic than anything:

    the ONLY fabrics i've ever had bleed on me have been from quilt shops. you know ... the name brand, grossly overpriced stuff that costs $9 per yard and up unless it's on the end-of-bolt sale table. the only complaints i've read about bleeding and shrinking have been about so-called "quality" fabrics. nothing from the "cheap" end of my stash has ever bled, and only two have shrunk during a span of several years.

    because i am lucky enough to not suffer from alergies, i never had to prewash when i got all my fabs from the w-place. it REALLY irritates me to know that the more i spend for a fabric, the more of a gamble i'm taking if i don't prewash. [we need an emoticon with steaming ears. :x ]

    (not ranting against the LQS. they don't make the stuff.)


  15. #15
    Echoes's Avatar
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    Funny about the emoticon Patrice... I just started out that way and have kept up because if not then half would be washed and half unwashed... But I have to say the most issues with bleeding I've seen are with black fabric. I found out that if a batch is messed up (dye) then most often they will combine other colors to make black. Once I found red, black, purple and green running out of fabric. I had bought it at Joanne.

    Interesting comments from you all.

  16. #16
    Super Member beachlady's Avatar
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    I always pre-wash - lights, darks, reds, whites and probably becuase only I wsa told to so that by my quilting class teacher. I have a firend that never pre-washes anything!

  17. #17
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    I prewash all except charms and precut strips. So far nothing has run.
    I buy all kinds of quilt fabric from Wal Mart to expensive quilt shops and Joanns. Also mail order alot.
    I also like the wrinkle look after washing the quilt. It dosnt matter if you prewash or not it still gets the wrinkle look. I guiss its because of the batting.
    The lady at my Wal Mart told me her manager watchs the fabric dept. So far its sales are good so not eliminating it. AZ has a large hispanic population and they do alot of sewing or so its seems, could be sweat shop labor. They have busted alot of drop houses here where they find sometime 30 or more illegals kept prisoner. Its a bad situation here and it needs to be stopped.

  18. #18
    Power Poster SulaBug's Avatar
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    I am like you, I always pre-wash my fabrics before starting to use them. It's just something that I was taught & have done for so many years. Now they say you don't always have to, but I am still a bit leary of that. Maybe it's just old habits that are hard to let go of!! :D

  19. #19
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    I never prewash fabric and the only thing that has ever bled is a piece of red from JoAnn Fabrics.

    I always add 2 or 3 color catchers to my finished quilts in the wash. That seems to do the trick for me, but I only use LQS fabrics now.

  20. #20
    Senior Member diannemc's Avatar
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    Well I am a new quilter and am trying to decide if I should start pre- washing...? I don't want to but????...I think if it was dark colors I might would...I already have two large boxes of fabric and I don't want to have to wash and then iron those wrinkles out...
    I did heirloom sewing for years and all the books said to wash lace and materials before making something but I never did and guess I was lucky cause I never had a problem...I have talked to lots of quilters young and old and it is split on to wash or not to wash...I have noticed the older ladies most say they don't... :?:

  21. #21
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    Sorry to beat a dead horse, Patrice, but we do have lots of wonderful new members and newbies to quilting. And this is the ultimate quilting question, isn't it? LOL!

    I thought these articles were interesting:

    http://www.quiltersbuzz.com/2005/11/..._fabric_o.html

    http://www.denverfabrics.com/pages/s...are-quilts.htm

    And if you have a lot of time: http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...h+quilt+fabric

  22. #22
    Echoes's Avatar
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    The only other thing I will add (as of now anyhoo) is how you start you want to continue. I wouldn't think you would want half of the fabric washed and the other half not. Correct?

    As to the name of the quilt in my picture. Oh man... I borrowed a book from a friend to make this quilt. I will have to see if I can come up with it and let you know.

  23. #23
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    That's an excellent point, Echoes! If you wash or not wash, you might want to keep it consistent with each quilt.

  24. #24
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    Your quilt is a Buzz Saw quilt, Echoes, and a very nice one. Good work. :oops:

    I prewash, primarily to remove the chemicals and unknown grunge from being handled by countless people before I rescued it. The shrinkage and dye running is an extra bonus as far as I am concerned. I don't care for stiff, crisp fabric because I have had some that is still stiff after washing and that just doesn't seem right. However, I do not wash it before I am ready to use the fabric because I know many prefer it unwashed and I never know when I will be sending some off to a new home.


  25. #25
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Early on I had some burgundy bleed and ruin corners on a quilt. I always wash fabric as soon as it comes in. If I want it stiff again, I'll starch it. Occassionally, I will get charm packs and just rinse them in the sink. If a piece is miscut or looks like it may ravel, I'll put it in a lingerie bag before washing.

    Anyone who doubts that colors run should use a color catcher just once. There are tons of loose color that may not streak, but could leave your colors drab.

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