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Thread: Washing Yardage and (Not) Washing Pre-Cut Pieces

  1. #1
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    Washing Yardage and (Not) Washing Pre-Cut Pieces

    Can/Will someone explain something to me?

    For those that wash yardage and don't wash pre-cuts -

    Do all the reasons you DO wash yardage suddenly disappear when you buy pre-cuts?

    Shrinkage, excess dye, whatever other reasons you DO wash?

    Seems to me those are all good reasons to AVOID pre-cuts?


    It just doesn't seem logical to me that a person can ignore shrinkage, etc. in a lot of pre-cuts and not tolerate it in yardage.

    By the way - my Mom had given me a pack of 5-inch charms - and I washed and dried and ironed them - the variation in the shrinkage ASTOUNDED me - I think the pack was from Quilts & Other Comforts - some stayed about the same - some shrank over 1/2 inch (on a 5 inch charm!)

    1/2 inch shrinkage on one 5-inch charm would be four inches of shrinkage on 8 pieces. Seems significant to me.

  2. #2
    Power Poster joyce888's Avatar
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    That is a lot of shrinkage for a 5" cut. I rarely prewash but I wouldn't prewash precuts because if they are from a kit or something predetermined you wouldn't have enough to make the pattern correctly. Curious did you starch and iron the square that shrank so much before you measured for shrinkage? I know sometimes that will help ease the fabric back to the prewash size. And again I know many will not agree but I would not prewash in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.
    Joyce

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  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I do avoid pre-cuts, for several reasons, and not being able to pre-wash is one of them. (Other reasons? Inaccuracy in some of the cutting, higher cost for some.) I don't mind doing my own cutting, even prefer to do it, and I don't typically use patterns that are geared to pre-cuts. I'm also not a matchy-matchy type, prefer to select my own fabrics from stash rather than use all the fabrics in a designer's new line. Yet when I see a quilt that someone has made from one of the new lines, I am the first to ooh and aah over it. The designer selections make gorgeous quilts, but that's just not my "thing".

  4. #4
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    My aunt has never washed in her 20 years I haven't in ten and haven't had any problems. People don't wash precuts because they don't want to mess them up badly especially if its a kit. Most shrinkage also occurs in batting because of quilting I don't worry too much about the fabric

  5. #5
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    At that time, I was still using tepid water and the 'regular' drying cycle - which is geared for 'wash and wear' and removed them from the dryer when they were 'just' dry.

    After I 'cooked' some polyester dress pants many years ago, I avoid using high heat in the dryer.

    I also try to use fabric 'au naturel' - because that's how I think the fabric will be after the recipient/final user of the item has washed the item.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    That is one of the reasons I don't buy precuts. Well I very rarely buy precuts. I love the idea of having the whole line of the fabric but I wash all yardage. I do not like the extra price for cutting,or that I might not be happy after I wash because of shrinkage.I bought 1 jelly roll and still have it untouched LOL

  7. #7
    Senior Member QuiltNama's Avatar
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    I wash a lot of my fabric and some I do not. For the precuts, if they are dark fabric, I put them in a bowl in the kitchen sink in very warm water and carefully swish them around checking for any color problems. Then squeeze out as much water as possible, lay a towel on the ironing board and press with a dry iron til just about dry. Hang on plastic hangers and they are ready to go. The washing and ironing seem to take care of any potential problems that might occur. I do this with jelly rolls, charms, and layer cakes.

  8. #8
    Super Member Rose Marie's Avatar
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    So far have not had a problem with not washing precuts. I wash all yardages and still have no problems with combining with precuts on projects.
    The only fabric that runs sometimes is batik. Even though washed some still run.
    I wash all finished quilts and the shrinkage is in the batting and it is even all over so no problems there.

  9. #9
    Super Member Neesie's Avatar
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    I like to work with clean fabric, with no surprises, so always pre-wash (and do not buy pre-cuts). I want my quilts to be able to be washed and dried, with no worries.
    Neesie


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  10. #10
    Junior Member x7lillies's Avatar
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    I always wash every piece of fabric, with a couple of exceptions.

    1. One-block-wonder quilts. If you pre-wash the fabric, the pattern might not line up over all the repeats, and that makes the kaleidoscope effect impossible. I always wash after the blocks are together (before the border, which is pre-washed fabric). I might not end up with the exact dimensions I was hoping for, but the pattern kaleidoscope effect remains intact.

    2. Wall hangings. I figure they're not meant to be washed anyway, and since they'll generally be hanging out all the time, the more vibrant the color is to start, the longer the colors will last. Plus, working with un-washed fabric (especially the smaller pieces I generally use for wall hangings) is much easier.

    For everything else, from potholders to quilts, I always pre-wash. I don't need my 29 different fabrics shrinking 20 different ways when it's time to wash the quilt. And I certainly don't need the red dye from fabric 1 running onto white fabric 2. I do not pre-shrink my batting, though. I find it's pretty consistent, and Warm and Natural only shrinks about 3%. I like that it gives the quilt a pillowy look when it shrinks (slightly).
    - Kim

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by x7lillies View Post
    I always wash every piece of fabric, with a couple of exceptions.

    1. One-block-wonder quilts. If you pre-wash the fabric, the pattern might not line up over all the repeats, and that makes the kaleidoscope effect impossible. I always wash after the blocks are together (before the border, which is pre-washed fabric). I might not end up with the exact dimensions I was hoping for, but the pattern kaleidoscope effect remains intact. . . .

    .
    I do not understand that - no matter which way a fabric might shrink - if it does - I would think that each of the design repeats would shrink at the same rate when the fabric was washed and dried.

    If one is worried about the bias cuts - one of the few places where I think using starch or sizing on the fabric before cutting it might be appropriate.

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    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    I very rarely wash fabric and have never had a problem. However if the fabric old (years old) I wash dark reds, greens, blues, blacks just to be sure they don't bleed. I don't buy precuts because I think they are too expensive.

  13. #13
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    I always wash everything. I wash in warm water and dry larger yardage in the dryer but lay small cuts out flat to dry then starch and iron them. Some never run or shrink others do so and some run so bad that I do them a second time, always with a color catcher. I want to know this before I invest my time putting them into a quilt.

  14. #14
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I don't pre wash fabric, too much trouble is the only reason. I do test for bleeding with a tiny piece of the fabric in hot water and then ironed dry on a piece of white muslin. I do this before using any colored fabric.
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    Junior Member x7lillies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    I do not understand that - no matter which way a fabric might shrink - if it does - I would think that each of the design repeats would shrink at the same rate when the fabric was washed and dried.

    If one is worried about the bias cuts - one of the few places where I think using starch or sizing on the fabric before cutting it might be appropriate.
    You'd be surprised about uneven shrinkage. Also, you have to remember that it's not just about size with the kaleidoscope blocks. If the pattern is off by an 8th of an inch in the center of the block, you'll notice it. It's happened to me before, so I say never again!
    - Kim

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  16. #16
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    I wash fabric just prior to using it because of sensitivity to the chemicals. I never buy pre-cuts because I don't want the hassle of dealing with many, many, many pieces of shrunken wrinkled fabric instead of just several larger pieces. I don't buy kits because I assume they don't take into consideration that some people wash their fabric prior to sewing.

  17. #17
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    I prewash fabrics so I know whether fabric is going to bleed. I have had to wash some "new" fabrics three and four time to get all the dye out and this was quilt shop fabric. I'm not complaining about the excess dye. The process is what it is. I make my quilts to be used and laundered not just looked at. I always buy excess fabric to allow for shrinkage. I shy away from kits for this reason.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by x7lillies View Post
    You'd be surprised about uneven shrinkage. Also, you have to remember that it's not just about size with the kaleidoscope blocks. If the pattern is off by an 8th of an inch in the center of the block, you'll notice it. It's happened to me before, so I say never again!
    I would think that would be more of a cutting or sewing error - - -

  19. #19
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    I'm a dedicated pre-washer - for many reasons, and because of that I avoid pre-cuts. I will buy fat quarters, and I will wash them, and I will cut the threads to get them apart!!

    But, like Kim said above ... I will NOT pre-wash if my fabric is planned for an OBW or any other method that requires that the print be precisely measured and cut in repeats. I learned this the hard way when I purchased 4 identical panels to fracture and after pre-washing those suckers were no longer square, would not get square, and as a result I could not get a perfect match of the print from one panel to the other when you stacked them together.
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

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  20. #20
    Super Member #1piecemaker's Avatar
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    If mine ever shrink, the whole top will shrink together. There is no way that I'm washing all those little pieces and ironing them. Call me lazy. But, it just aint worth it.
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  21. #21
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    I am one of those wash everything first people. If you know the quilt you are making is going to be washed frequently, ie. a grandchild who loves on it a lot, I say wash everything first because as you already have found out, some fabric shrinks a lot and some very little.
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  22. #22
    Junior Member Panchita's Avatar
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    I'm a pre-washer. Not only because of the possibility of shrinkage and dye-runs, but because I personally find that the fabric 'sheds' less if it is pre-washed (I realise that this goes against accepted thinking, but it is what I have found from experience).

    I very rarely buy pre-cuts - I have never in my life had a jelly roll (and never will), used a layer cake once, and have 3 charm packs I have not yet used. But I would not prewash those. Not because my reasons disappear, but because I would anticipate more distortion and fraying with little pieces. Just means I am careful about what I would use the pre-cuts for. And I wouldn't mix washed and unwashed fabric.

    From the general response it would seem that pre-washers do not tend to purchase pre-cuts as much as others.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Termi's Avatar
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    I think it's safest to pre-wash all fabric. I don't buy pre-cuts because if you try to wash them it turns into a disaster. There's so much shrinkage, fraying and distortion of the shape. I do buy fat quarters because I can re-cut them. I like to do my own cutting.

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