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Thread: Washing quilt top before quilting?

  1. #1
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    I just finished with a top that I don't want to wash after quilting (wall hanging, don't want a real scrunchy look), but I need to wash it to get out some markings, glue, etc. If I put a zig zag stitch along the raw edge of the border, should that be enough to keep fraying to a minimum in a gentle wash and dry? I'm doing scalloped edges on the border after quilting so some of the edge will be cut away anyways. What about the backside of the top? Will it be okay exposed in a light wash?

    I'm sure this has been done before, and doesn't seem like it should be any big deal, but I wanted to check with you ladies (and gentlemen!) before I proceeded. :)

  2. #2
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    I don't see any reason why you couldn't wash it gently. Put it in a mesh bag or pillow case, that will keep agitation to a minimum. Or wash by hand and roll in a towel to get the excess water out and lay flat to dry.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Your quilt top will probably be fine if you wash it, but rather than risk it you can always gently wash it after you quilt it, then block the quilt so it doesn't scrunch up.

    This is a link to directions:

    http://www.quiltuniversity.com/blocking.htm

    Blocking will also help it hang flat.

  4. #4
    Super Member Quilter7x's Avatar
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    I would be afraid to wash in a machine it if it has a lot of pieces in it. I can only imagine the fraying that would happen on the back. Can you gently swish it in the tub? Or can you use a washcloth to take out the glue and extra markings?

  5. #5
    Super Member quiltingnonie's Avatar
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    I did that one time - gentle wash cycle - and had fraying on the back you wouldn't believe.

  6. #6
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I would be afraid of the fraying on the back too... you may even lose some of your seams to this.

  7. #7
    Super Member MaryStoaks's Avatar
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    I have washed several tops without damaging them. I folded the top small enough to fit in my kitchen sink (keep it folded with the raw edges inside the whole time). I ran tepid water deep enough to cover, added liquid dish detergent and baking soda. Then I put the top in and let it soak, no agitation except to gently push the top down in the water occasionally. I soaked it like this for several hours, drained the water and added fresh water, gentle push on the top , and changed the water this way until no more soap. Drain the rinse water and let it drip (still folded), then unfold it and hang over a shower rod to dry. This procedure didn't harm the top and had a minimum of fraying on the back.

  8. #8
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, so it sounds like I do have to worry about the back seams fraying really bad. I'm not sure what to do then. There's a fabric in it that I think will bleed even though I prewashed everything. I dampened a block to remove some freezer paper (put it under a hot iron right after to dry it quickly) and just in that little bit of time a black fabric bled on to a white fabric. I have some Synthrapol to put in with it, but I know it needs to be put in the dryer right away to avoid sitting around damp. So that takes blocking the quilt out of the scenario. There is some water soluble fusible in some of the applique though so I have to get it completely wet.

    I guess I'm going to just have to wash it after it's quilted, dry it in the dryer and just hope it comes out as flat as possible. Will prewashing my batting help keep the scrunch down? I've never prewashed batting so I don't know how to do that either. :P

  9. #9
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    you should be able to soak the marks out. don't agitate. just spin out and rinse and soak and spin out.

  10. #10
    Super Member quilterguy27's Avatar
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    I'd wash it gently by hand in the sink. Let as much water drip out as possible then lay it flat on some towels to soak up the rest of the water. When it's like 90 to 95% dry I'd iron it. This should work for you. Now, if you wash it after quilting I would tumble in the dryer on fluff or air dry until it's mostly dry. Then I would block it to make it square and try to keep it flat and minimize the "scrunch" effect. Good luck.

  11. #11
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    did you originally wash the fabric with some kind of color catcher? i use retayne. but others here have used household color catchers or color grabbers. even after quilting, i have used retayne where i thought/knew there would be a problem. i just wouldn't wash it without first sandwiching. can you baste thoroughly to a sheet, with either pins or thread, and then zig-zag the edges? the back side needs to be well-protected.

    washing gently in cool or tepid water was good advice, too.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would absolutely not wash it in the machine. It's not just the edges that can ravel; every seam can lose threads and create a tangled mess.

    What I would do is machine baste it to a muslin foundation and then hand wash.

    Edit: Scrolled down and read your second post. You could hand wash as described above in Synthrapol, being sure to use lots of water in the sink and replacing the water frequently if you can see dye in the water. Synthrapol should keep the dye from settling into other fabrics.

    What kind of batting do you have? Polyester batting will not shrink. If it's cotton, cotton/poly, or wool the package will tell you if you can prewash. Poly doesn't need prewashing, of course. Cotton batting that is bonded and/or needlepunched can be soaked (as in a washing machine with *no* agitation), spun out, and then dried in a dryer to shrink. Traditional cotton batting cannot be prewashed; it will fall apart in the water.

    Lay the whole top out flat to dry, then take off the basted foundation and block to size.

  13. #13
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    if this is strictly for a wallhanging, i wouldn't wash the batting at all. i would wash the quilt top as described by the two methods above and never wash it again.
    shake the dust loose, vacuum, air it out in the dryer or dry clean, but if you ever wash it again, it will crinkle to some degree unless the batting is 100% poly.

    prism, what do you think?

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachelcb80
    So that takes blocking the quilt out of the scenario. There is some water soluble fusible in some of the applique though so I have to get it completely wet.:P
    Actually, this doesn't take blocking out of the scenario - it makes it ideal.

    I routinely wash my quilts in the washer, put them in the dryer for less than 5 minutes, then block them. Wet fabric is easily manipulated into position, which makes it way easier to block. If you're concerned about bleeding make sure you use a color catcher in the washer, and take the quilt out right away - don't let it sit there. Once you've blocked it and pinned it into position, use a fan to help the quilt dry quicker.

    Your quilt will be flat and square. FYI: this is how many quilters prepare their quilts for quilt shows. It really does help make the quilt hang better, plus it helps the batting poof up a bit without crinkling.

  15. #15
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I always wash and dry all quilts and comforters as soon as the binding is sewn on and of course quilted.

  16. #16
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    Don't prewash your batting, just put it in the dryer for about 15-30 minutes. And use poly batting---less scrunchy look after washing.

  17. #17
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    On 2 quilts where I used Bali pre-cut strips, I did not wash the fabric first, knowing that some of the batik colors would run. When I finished the tops, I machine basted wide, inexpensive muslin all around the quilt top edges and then washed (gently) with color catchers. After laundering, I removed the muslin; the seam allowances were intact and the muslin prevented unwanted threads from escaping into my washing machine.

  18. #18
    tooMuchFabric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachelcb80
    Will prewashing my batting help keep the scrunch down? I've never prewashed batting so I don't know how to do that either. :P
    Yes, it will. You can prewash batting, which I am taking to mean cotton batting, by handling it very gently and drying it very gently.
    Works fine.
    Do not wash it in a washer, nor dry it in a dryer.
    Although a friend of mine hand-soaked her cotton batting, rinsed it by hand, and then put it in a pillowcase and pinned it closed, then dried the whole thing on warn (not hot) setting.
    Hers came out fine but I have not done the dryer thing myself.

  19. #19
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weezie
    On 2 quilts where I used Bali pre-cut strips, I did not wash the fabric first, knowing that some of the batik colors would run. When I finished the tops, I machine basted wide, inexpensive muslin all around the quilt top edges and then washed (gently) with color catchers. After laundering, I removed the muslin; the seam allowances were intact and the muslin prevented unwanted threads from escaping into my washing machine.
    Okay, this sounds like the plan of action I need to take. But the only muslin I have is some nice, really soft stuff that I plan on using for a backing at some point for a cuddle quilt so I guess I need to hit the store for some cheaper stuff. Couple of questions; you just basted around all four edges right? Did you just wash on a gentle cycle? And finally what about drying? Did you dry in a dryer, or just hang to dry?

  20. #20
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    There are inexpensive muslins available.

    Or you could buy the cheapest (least expensive) sheet you can find and that would work.

    Even hand washing just a top is an iffy process. I had to wash some sections of a top (one of my cats "anointed" it - thought I had everything away from the wretch) - and there was a LOT of fraying. This was just dunking the sections in a sink and hanging them on a drying rack. Also, some of my stitching came out and I had to redo some of it.

    Warm and Natural batting machine (automatic) washes (warm or cool wash and gentle cycle) and machine dries (permanent press cycle) just fine.

  21. #21
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachelcb80
    Okay, this sounds like the plan of action I need to take. But the only muslin I have is some nice, really soft stuff that I plan on using for a backing at some point for a cuddle quilt so I guess I need to hit the store for some cheaper stuff. Couple of questions; you just basted around all four edges right? Did you just wash on a gentle cycle? And finally what about drying? Did you dry in a dryer, or just hang to dry?
    This is not answering one of your questions, but I bought a bolt of wide white muslin at Joann's at half price a few years ago. Not good quality, I found, but excellent for quilt frame leaders and other odds & ends, such as the quilt top washing episodes.

    Yes, I only basted around the four edges. Washed on gentle cycle, cold water (Shout color catcher instructions do not specify a water temp.) and I hung them on an inside clothesline in the basement. They are king sized quilt tops; the bigger the quilts are, the less I'm inclined to put them in a clothes dryer, even on air fluff. If it's neither sunny nor raining, I can hang them on an outside line. Since yours is undoubtedly small-ish, you could even hang it over a bathtub or in a shower, if you have a clothes rack & no inside line, in case it drips water. If none of those options work for you, I don't think it would hurt to damp dry it in the dryer on air fluff or possibly even a warm temp for a while.

  22. #22
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
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    It worked, it worked!! Happy dancin' over here! :)

    I basted the outside edges to some cheapy muslin I picked up at Walmart, said a little prayer and tossed it into the wash. I used a Hot/Cold cycle since the Synthrapol says to use hot water for the first wash. I also threw in two Shout color catchers. Not only did the questionable fabric not bleed into surrounding fabrics, the area where it had bled came out! The back seams frayed ever so slightly, though not enough to cause any concern.

    So my top has had it's one needed bath and can now get quilted and be done!

  23. #23
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Good! I am so happy for you! Isn't it great when things work as they should?!?!?

  24. #24
    Super Member weezie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachelcb80
    It worked, it worked!! Happy dancin' over here! :)

    I basted the outside edges to some cheapy muslin I picked up at Walmart, said a little prayer and tossed it into the wash. I used a Hot/Cold cycle since the Synthrapol says to use hot water for the first wash. I also threw in two Shout color catchers. Not only did the questionable fabric not bleed into surrounding fabrics, the area where it had bled came out! The back seams frayed ever so slightly, though not enough to cause any concern.

    So my top has had it's one needed bath and can now get quilted and be done!
    This is all good!

  25. #25
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I washed a top - by hand - because it was full of dust, dirt, and nicotine. OMG what a mess. I should have left it alone and dealt with the grime later. Now it is waiting for me to press it back into some semblance of order. Not sure how well that plan will work out.

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