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Thread: Washing Charm Packs

  1. #1
    Super Member nannya54's Avatar
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    The questions about using quilts as table cloths reminded me of a question about charm packs and pre-washing them. I made a table cloth out of a Moda Charm pack and it looked great. After a few meals, I wash it, and the shrinkage on some of the squares totally distorted the table cloth. So, my question is, how do you pre-wash charm packs so you don't have shrinkage problems?

  2. #2
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    I would be afraid to wash a charm pack. I would be afraid that with the shrinkage and the fraying I would loose too much fabric. What would happen it you just sprayed them with water and let them air dry? I am surprised that some of the charms shrank (is that a word?) so much. If you must wash, I would put them in a bag or pillow case and wash on delicate. Good luck.
    Sue

  3. #3
    Senior Member kheliwud's Avatar
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    I don't pre-wash, I like the crinkle shrinkage. But to eliminate the distortion, I would get the quilt out of the dryer while still slightly damp, and block it back out square. I pin mine to the carpet floor and this seams (get it!LOL) to work for me.

  4. #4
    Senior Member leakus's Avatar
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    I would try stacking them up and pin all around with safety pins, maybe even inside a pillowcase.

  5. #5
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I have read (but never tried) swishing them around in a sink filled with hot water. Use a salad spinner to get out most of the water, then dry flat. You could also just try steaming them with a hot iron.

  6. #6
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    I would not prewash the squares either...if you baste well, and then do enough quilting, there should not be too much shrinkage when washing. As someone said, just dry for a bit until damp, then take out and block and let it airdry the rest of the way and there should be minimal shrinkage. If you try to prewash, it could really distort the pieces, and make it difficult to accurately piece.

  7. #7
    Super Member Jennifer22206's Avatar
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    I don't pre-wash most things, and I've never pre-washed charm packs or any other pre-cuts. I wash my quilts/tablerunners/table toppers on gentle cycle, or hand wash and then air dry. If it's winter, I take it out of the dryer while still damp, and hang up in the shower with a skirt hanger, or lay flat to dry.

  8. #8
    Super Member Pzazz's Avatar
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    After making a set of placemats from a charm pack, and not prewashing, there was so much shrinkage, (over an inch!!!), that I will never again not prewash them. I now do a rinse in the sink, as paperprincess suggested. Roll them in a towel to get most of the moisure out, then press with a hot, dry iron. SOme did need a bit of squaring uo when I was done, but my quilt didn't shrink like thev placemeats did.

    Patti

  9. #9
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I would soak in a sink , towel press out some of the moisture , then put in the dryer in a delicate bag ( they are mesh bags , you can buy at most general stores like walmart).
    Most of the shrinkage occurs in the dryer, so its important to do that step in pre-shrinking.
    I preshrink lots of stuff( backings, battings, fabric ...even scraps ) when I want it to stay as flat as the day I sewed it.
    When I want the crinkles look , I preshrink the fabric but not the batting, if both the batting and the fabric are shrinking you don't get as much crinkle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lori S
    I would soak in a sink , towel press out some of the moisture , then put in the dryer in a delicate bag ( they are mesh bags , you can buy at most general stores like walmart).
    Most of the shrinkage occurs in the dryer, so its important to do that step in pre-shrinking.
    I preshrink lots of stuff( backings, battings, fabric ...even scraps ) when I want it to stay as flat as the day I sewed it.
    When I want the crinkles look , I preshrink the fabric but not the batting, if both the batting and the fabric are shrinking you don't get as much crinkle.
    I have had experience with 5 inch squares shrinking at different rates - but I am very surprised to hear that you had uneven shrinkage from fabrics from the same line.

    Thank you for posting this.

  11. #11
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    the shrinkage has more to do with the batting and the density of quilting than it does with the actual fabrics- the way to avoid that problem with table clothes/toppers is to skip the batting- or use a layer of muslin or pre-washed flannel for batting.
    if you want to pre-wash a pre-cut i would use a net bag- and do it on gentle- figure on sitting for awhile ironing- each and every one will be a crumpled little mess- you will have to smooth and press...i never pre-wash pre-cuts- i only use them for projects that i'm not worried about shrinkage- or bleeding color.
    i do pre-wash most yardage.
    but it is the batting that causes most shrinkage surprises in finished quilted projects. :thumbup:

  12. #12
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    This thread is indirectly related ... and may add some Food for Thought on this subject!
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-122370-1.htm

  13. #13
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
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    thanks for the link and everyone's comments

    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltE
    This thread is indirectly related ... and may add some Food for Thought on this subject!
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-122370-1.htm

  14. #14
    Senior Member DeneK's Avatar
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    I have only used charm packs one time... It was for a crazy 9 patch class (and the only quilting class I ever had also). It was great to have a nice color combination and not have to cut. But I found I had to do a LOT of squaring of the blocks when I put it together and I was not real happy with the finished quilt after I washed it. Then this week, I needed a few coordinated pieces to try a new pattern so I pulled out 4 of these unwashed charm squares left from that project. I noticed right away that some of them were not square. I had to trim a full 1/8" from one corner on one of them.

    So not only possible shrinkage, but possibly the charm squares aren't square. I am not sure I'd buy them again though that was not the context of this thread.

  15. #15
    Super Member nannya54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    the shrinkage has more to do with the batting and the density of quilting than it does with the actual fabrics- the way to avoid that problem with table clothes/toppers is to skip the batting- or use a layer of muslin or pre-washed flannel for batting.
    if you want to pre-wash a pre-cut i would use a net bag- and do it on gentle- figure on sitting for awhile ironing- each and every one will be a crumpled little mess- you will have to smooth and press...i never pre-wash pre-cuts- i only use them for projects that i'm not worried about shrinkage- or bleeding color.
    i do pre-wash most yardage.
    but it is the batting that causes most shrinkage surprises in finished quilted projects. :thumbup:
    I heed your point except in this case I didn't use any batting being it was on my dining room table and I wanted to set candlesticks etc on it. Now it's relegated to the kitchen table. lol Thank you all for the suggestions. I appreciate the advise!!

  16. #16
    Super Member olmphoto2's Avatar
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    Width shrinks more than length I believe. So, when you have unwashed charm squares, the shrinkage could be very odd in the finished project I would imagine. I pretty much wash everything first for this reason. I've avoided the issue with the packets as I don't use them or kits much for this reason and for the extra $s they cost. I've had real problems using some precut fabrics in sampler classes too.

    Think I would really wet them good with water or starch and steam press them. Then when I'd sew, I'd then treat every 'shorted side' of the square as being a scant cut I guess, if that makes sense. That's not very practical but I've been forced into worse I guess. BTW, one thing I've always hated with kits: Borders cut from the width of the original fabric that results in sometimes wavy borders for my project. I just don't understand why they can't be cut from the length of their yardage for these kits! After all, they are preparing numerous kits at a time and aren't like the individual quilter who has to think more than twice about buyin the extra fabric!
    OK, here's Mary Ann getting off her soap box now...

  17. #17
    Senior Member bobquilt3's Avatar
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    Wouldn't it just be faster to buy yardage, wash, dry and cut it into squares? All this swishing and squaring and fraying sounds like a lot of work to me.

  18. #18
    Super Member Pzazz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobquilt3
    Wouldn't it just be faster to buy yardage, wash, dry and cut it into squares? All this swishing and squaring and fraying sounds like a lot of work to me.
    You are so correct...and that is what I do now after having so much shrinkage on the precuts.

    Patti

  19. #19
    Super Member Dodie's Avatar
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    I prewash mine by just putting them in my bathroom sink in hot water sqeeze water out lay on my ironing board to dry the iron when still damp a lot of them will bleed and somrtimes I will have to do that three times

  20. #20
    Super Member Blinkokr's Avatar
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    It is almost impossible to wash them, as then you have all sizes. I do not wash before sewing. I sew my project, then I buy a nice piece of clear plastic (the little heavier kind) and put it over my beautiful table cloth. If I use place mats to match they go under the plastic also. No muss no fuss. Just wipe clean after your meal. Hope this helps you, it has been a Blessing to me. And saved many a beautiful items.
    Have a Blessed day
    Ellen

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkokr
    It is almost impossible to wash them, as then you have all sizes. . . . .
    Ellen
    Which is why I do prewash - I have this silly idea that my blocks/project will stay nicer (the way I intended it - which, in my case, is flat and unwarped) if all the pieces in it will stay approximately the same size after being sewn and washed.

    Yes, there will be some squaring up of the units - interesting to see how they change shape - but I'd rather do it "before" than have a crappy finished product "later"

    I also think one should be able to wash an item such as a placemat, child's quilt, (any item one expects to wash ), put it in the dryer, and it will be "good to go"

    Just for the record - I do wash finished items in cool to tepid water on a gentle cycle, rinse in cold (my washer only has "cold" for rinse settings) and dry on a gentle cycle only to "barely dry" Take the item out and smooth it out, fold it and put it away, or put it back to use.

    I think having to block a finished item would be aggravating - especially when I can do a bit of extra work "up front" and not have to deal with it again and again over the life of the item.

  22. #22
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    I always cut my own charms, but I prewash and THEN cut....was always afraid of shrinkage!

  23. #23
    Super Member Dodie's Avatar
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    well said bearisgray I do not have any trouble with my squares by pre washing by hand if some shrink to much I use them in a different project and if some blled to much I know it before all of the sewing work and I to want my finished projects washable

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess
    I have read (but never tried) swishing them around in a sink filled with hot water. Use a salad spinner to get out most of the water, then dry flat. You could also just try steaming them with a hot iron.
    I do the wash in the sink with hot water, squeeze in a towel and then spin a salad spinner! I now use a color catcher in the wash as I found some Moda prints DO bleed!

    ironing while damp finishes the shrinking process.

    NOTE, all fabrics contain sprayed on pesticides, so when hand washing keep this in mind in you suddenly get nauseous or get a headache... if you are known to be sensitive to the chemicals, wash outdoors in fresh air!

  25. #25
    Super Member Blinkokr's Avatar
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    Terrific way to do that I will try that.
    Have a Blessed day
    Ellen

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