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Thread: Washing a quilt

  1. #1
    Senior Member germanquilter's Avatar
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    Washing a quilt

    My daughter brought home her twinsize quilt made out of Moda Batiks from college. It is not dirty, just needs 'freshing up'. I have been quilting for a while but have never washed a quilt! I would like to give it a whirl. Just worried that it will shrink, bleed etc. I have bought Color Catchers but don't know what setting to put my washing machine on or to use cold or warm water. Do I put it into the dryer when washed or just hang up wet? Also, I do NOT wash my fabrics before I piece so that will be a factor.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
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    If all it needs is freshening up why not hang it with the back side out on a line?

  3. #3
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    I'm a prewasher myself. But that said, I wash all my quilts before gifting just to get rid of dog hair and hand oils, etc. When pre washing fabrics or washing completed quilts I do the same thing. I use the perm. press setting on my washer, warm wash/warm rinse (cause that's as hot as I can get everything). Toss in appropriate amount of regular laundry soap and off we go. Toss in dryer when complete. In your case since the fabrics weren't pre washed, I'd toss in a couple of color catchers since you have them. Check your quilt and the color catchers upon removal from washer. If no bleeding has occurred, toss in the dryer. If bleeding, keep washing till there is none. THEN toss in the dryer. Yes, you'll get some shrinkage - particularly if you used a cotton batt - but I think the batiks tend to not shrink as much as other fabrics due to the generally tighter weave of the fabric.

  4. #4
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    I think you might want to test some of the fabrics with a wet Q-tip or damp cloth to get an idea of how much bleeding to expect. With the fabrics having not been previously washed, there could be quite a bit, so Color Catchers can help pick up the loose dye so that it doesn't land on other areas. If you used cotton batting, you can expect shrinkage there that might not match the shrinkage in the fabric. Cool water, low agitation, and avoiding heat in the dryer will all minimize the bad effects. If you don't mind the extra work, you can wash it by hand in the bathtub and lay out to dry on towels on a hard surface floor after squeezing (not wringing) out the excess water.

    I agree that freshening can be done by hanging the quilt outside, but eventually you will have to face the task of washing the quilt if it is being used regularly.

    Best wishes!


    Dayle

  5. #5
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    I agree with NJ Quilter. Good luck; it all should be fine!

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I agree with what NJ Quilter said. Particularly, to examine the quilt for bleeding while it's still wet. If you dry it, with the bleeds, it will be almost impossible to get them out. Batiks with really saturated colors always seem to bleed a lot for me. The other thing is to use a top loader. If you have a front loader, take it to a laundromat. You need to have a lot of water for the color catchers to work.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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  7. #7
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    I wash and dry my quilts all the time. Usually, I prewash fabric but not always. I use the warm/cold setting and a gentle cycle. Gain detergent and a color catcher. If the color catcher has absorbed a lot of color when the wash cycle ends, I may rewash before throwing in the dryer on low heat. I have never had a problem and have been quilting 10 years.

  8. #8
    Senior Member happyquiltmom's Avatar
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    Here is how I launder my quilts:

    Fill the washer with water and detergent. Place quilt into the water, gently squeeze until completely wet. Let sit for 30 minutes. Do not agitate. Then, run through spin cycle. Repeat for rinse cycle, omitting sit time. Note, this will not work in a front loader.

    I have a 5-line retractable clothesline. I hang the quilt face down over all 5 lines, distributing the weight evenly. Dryers beat the heck out of clothes and wear them out more quickly. Just think what they would do to a quilt!

  9. #9
    Senior Member germanquilter's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! I do have a top-loading machine and the batting used by my LAQ is a 80 cotton/ 20 poly blend so hopefully, shrinkage there will be minimal. I was thinking about airing it out but I am sure it will have to be washed eventually and I would rather be the first to try it than my daughter at college!

  10. #10
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    Same question - I know it won't run - prewash everything! I am not sure about the batting. I didn't preshrink it, but it was a quilt-as-you-go, so each block got pressed with some heavy duty steam as it was finished. Would that kind of pressing tell me what washing will do? Think the batting was a name brand available at Joannes. It wasn't the generic stuff.

    I've gotta get rid of the cat hair before putting away for summer. 2 cats sleep with me at night and all 3 like the bed during the day.

  11. #11
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I would wash using Synthropol , to keep any colors that run/bleed from setting . It suspends any unset dye so it does not set on the fabrics in the quilt.

  12. #12
    Super Member sahm4605's Avatar
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    honestly unless it is a fragile quilt or it was an art quilt wash and dry like most cloths or blankets. and use color catchers. I have a crib quilt a wall hanging a pillow sham two pillow cases and a small decorative quilted pillow that I finished up last night in the wash this morning. Getting ready to check them for bleeding and such to see if they need another round in the dryer. don't think they will but you never know. I always wash before gifting anything because it is usually going to a baby and i use starch like its going out of style. (my fabric can stand up on its own if it wanted to)
    when life gets you down go and talk with a little kid. They will help you work out even the worst problems with their simple logic.

  13. #13
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    I don't prewash my fabrics (unless I am doing a red & white or blue & white), normally use an 80 - 20 batting. I wash all of my quilts (cold or warm water) use a color catcher and then put in the dryer like everything else. I have quilts on my beds and we have a large dog so they get washed a lot and I have never had an issue. That being said I would as others suggest look at the color catcher and go from there

  14. #14
    Senior Member MoanaWahine's Avatar
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    The kind of quilts that I have made so far are meant to be used an loved. With that said, they get washed and dried just like other clothing and blankets in my house of 2 sons, DH and myself . Never have had a problem with bleading of color and I very seldom prewash fabrics. As for the shrinkage, which in my case is very little, I kind of like the "cricked" looks that comes after the first wash, and it seems to soften the quilt that much more to make it that much more cuddly. And yes, I use cotton for the batting.

    Since this is your Daughters quilt, I am sure it was made with lots of love and meant to be used, wash like you have any other blankets and cloths. If you are concerned about bleeding, use the color catchers, I have never tried them but from the input from this board, they seem to work great!!
    Julie

  15. #15
    Super Member sewmom's Avatar
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    I always prewash( except for my quilt made with a 30's jelly roll and a BOM, which i havent finished) so i have no surprises! I wash in warm or cold and throw them in the dryer. The quilts have to rearranged a few times in the dryer, but they dry eventually. I use color catchers when washing the fabrics, especially if they are dark. Good luck!
    A time to tear, And a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

  16. #16
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    Do you have one of those steam dryers? I bought mine two years ago because the sales lady said I would love it. I thought "yeah sure, right", but she was right, I use it all the time.

    When I think about "water and electricity" being together in a dryer I still shudder. :-)

  17. #17
    Super Member mcdaniel023's Avatar
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    I would wash it in cold water, two or three color catchers and lots of water. Then throw it in the dryer. It may krinkle a little. But, I bet your dd will love it even more. It is going to be soft and cuddly.
    This is what I do as soon as I finish a quilt.
    Happy Quilting.

  18. #18
    Super Member burchquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnye View Post
    I agree with NJ Quilter. Good luck; it all should be fine!
    Me, too. I personally really like the way quilts look after they've been washed. I just throw mine in the washer (or take them to the laundromat if they're too big for my machine to handle easily) & then either dry them in the dryer part way thru or hang them across all 4 of my clotheslines. I've never had a problem (knock on wood).
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  19. #19
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    It's also important to not let a damp quilt set - that's also when color can transfer from one area to another.

    If this is an antique or fragile quilt, more care is required when handling it.

  20. #20
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    What everyone else said. But when I take it out of the dryer, I hang it over the banister at least overnight to throughly dry before folding. In AZ, overnight is plenty.
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  21. #21
    Member BeckyPotter's Avatar
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    I have a question. Has anyone used vinager to set the colors???? I've used this on red shirts. Plus I use vinager as softner.
    Cheap, Cheap.

  22. #22
    Super Member meanmom's Avatar
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    I never prewash my fabric and I just throw mine in the washing machine, a front loader. I throw in a couple of color catchers and wash on the gentle cycle. If I remember to use the gentle cycle. I usually hung mine to dry because they smell so good after hanging outside. It has worked for me so far.I also occasionally throw them in them dryer.

  23. #23
    Super Member Latrinka's Avatar
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    I just wash them on delicate cycle, cold water, then put in dryer for 5-10 minutes, then hang to complete drying.
    If a woman's work is never done....why start?

  24. #24
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    I wash mine in cold water using some kind of "quilt wash" and then trow them over a bush outside to dry if possible. I try to treat my own quilts with kindness so they last longer and hold up better. They were made with love and so I wash them with love. After I gift them then not my problem althought I do tell the recepient how to wash them for best results. I would use a color catcher for first washing and then more if colors bleed.

  25. #25
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    you are like me, I do not prewash, but I do check any questionable fab with a snip in a cup of HOT water before construction.....anyway....and I also do not wash after completion........not until quilt is actually in need of washing....I air them out every chance I get during the year or run thru air fresh in dryer to remove cat hairs......actually washing cold water with Orvus (at farm stores) and on gentle wash......dry in dryer on med heat for a short time, then air dry completely........no problem. I have never used a color catcher.......

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