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Thread: Who says there's no reason to pre-wash?

  1. #1
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Who says there's no reason to pre-wash?

    .... then consider this ....

    Before washing .... one metre of 60" cotton
    After hot water wash/dry #1 ... one metre by 56"

    With that much shrinkage, I thought I'd see what happened with a second wash/dry. No change in size.

    That's one inch gone for every 15" ... hhmmm?


    I bought the piece as a test for a OBW/SAW/4PP. It seemed to have a lot of fill in it and I was suspicious and wanted to know if I'd have cheesecloth or what? After the shrinkage, it's a nice tight cotton and yes, I'll probably buy the yardage.

    Though if I'd sewn it and later washed .... not sure I'd be happy!


    Of course, each to his/her own! :)

  2. #2
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    As a side bar ... I don't normally measure my fabric before washing. Just do it and know that all in my home have been abused and prepped!

  3. #3
    Super Member jeaninmaine's Avatar
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    I think some people like the wrinkling effect of the fabric shrinking. I haven't tried using unwashed fabric yet but I probably will just to see if I like it or not (but it will be for something I'm keeping for myself)

  4. #4
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Harriet Hargrave doesn't pre-wash and that's good enough for me. Even if a quilt shrinks some after washing it'll still fit the bed.

  5. #5
    Super Member Stacey's Avatar
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    I have always prewashed my fabric. Then I use a lot of starch. And my quilts still get that old quilt look when washed.

  6. #6
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    I thought I read in one of the stack & whack books - that you shouldn't wash the fabric before hand - I think the reason was that washing sometimes warped the fabric so it as harder to cut the stacks correctly.

    Will have to reread that part of the book

  7. #7
    Super Member luvstitches's Avatar
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    I love the look of my quilts after it's been washed for the first time. (no pre-washing fabric)

  8. #8
    Super Member SherriB's Avatar
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    I love the wrinkly and shrunk look I get from not prewashing. But I read in one of my new quilt books that the author gets a very wrinkly look by pre-washing the fabric and using 100% cotton batting. When it is washed and dried, it is very antique looking, she said. I may give it a try and see what kind of look I get.

  9. #9
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JUNEC
    I thought I read in one of the stack & whack books - that you shouldn't wash the fabric before hand - I think the reason was that washing sometimes warped the fabric so it as harder to cut the stacks correctly.

    Will have to reread that part of the book
    You did. Once you wash a fabric the repeats won't be perfect anymore and it's very difficult to use it for any of the stacked repeat patterns.

  10. #10
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JUNEC
    I thought I read in one of the stack & whack books - that you shouldn't wash the fabric before hand - I think the reason was that washing sometimes warped the fabric so it as harder to cut the stacks correctly.

    Will have to reread that part of the book
    It does say so ... when I did the course, I had prewashed before I knew so. I asked and the teacher said, no problem, just starch it up good. There is the risk of it stretching some, though in her view, the non-wash or starch lets the fabric slide better on top when you are stacking it. Plus it helps stabilize the bias cuts and minimize fraying.



    Even if you do pre-wash, you will still get the wrinkles when you wash the quilt. The 80-20 Warm and Natural estimates about 2%. This fabric would have been 6.7% ... that's a lot more wrinkles.

    As I said, whatever works for you ... works!

  11. #11
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen
    Harriet Hargrave doesn't pre-wash and that's good enough for me. Even if a quilt shrinks some after washing it'll still fit the bed.
    Yes and no ... that 60" width of a queen just became 56".

    Yes, you'd make it wider ... though how much would you factor in to compensate and know you still have a usable quilt?

  12. #12
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltE
    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen
    Harriet Hargrave doesn't pre-wash and that's good enough for me. Even if a quilt shrinks some after washing it'll still fit the bed.
    Yes and no ... that 60" width of a queen just became 56".

    Yes, you'd make it wider ... though how much would you factor in to compensate and know you still have a usable quilt?
    You washed unquilted fabric. Quilt some samples up and then wash.

    You shouldn't make a quilt to just barely fit anyway. Batting shrinks too unless it's pre-shrunk. Beside even if a quilt shrinks some or even a lot it is still a perfectly useable quilt!

    Pre-washing is for clothing construction!

  13. #13
    Super Member hobbykat1955's Avatar
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    I decided since I don't prewash to measure one of my table toppers right after I finished putting it all together...I washed it in cold water and lost all of 1/2 inch...I don't prewash like working with original sizing in fabric...Though, I recently had to wash some for a swap I'm doing and that's the rules...but normally no...Now I have to starch what I washed.

  14. #14

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    I pre-wash as you never know what kind of dust/dirt it has collected especially for those with asthma or allergies but most of all colour fastness. My very first experience of quilting - a 12 part kit Baltimore BOM by a well known company where they furnished the fabric. I quick-washed but didn't double rinse. The quilt was finished except for the binding and when being spritzed with water to remove quilting lines the colours ran! Some so badly right throught the batting and onto the backing. Bless the dear people on this board who recommended synthrapol which removed the mess and saved the day. So pre-wash and double rinse.

  15. #15
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Is it possible that your 60" wide fabric was cotton but home dec weight fabric rather than quilting weight cotton and that's why it shrank so?

    Jan in VA

  16. #16
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA
    Is it possible that your 60" wide fabric was cotton but home dec weight fabric rather than quilting weight cotton and that's why it shrank so?

    Jan in VA
    I'm not really concerned about it ... wash and shrink first.

  17. #17
    Super Member oksewglad's Avatar
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    I prewash--a throw back from clothing construction days. Like hetty I had a bad experience with a red Hoffman fabric and I had washed and dried once! I always prewash.

  18. #18
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA
    Is it possible that your 60" wide fabric was cotton but home dec weight fabric rather than quilting weight cotton and that's why it shrank so?

    Jan in VA
    I'm interested in this - why would that make a difference? Are the cottons treated differently? I learn something every day on this board :-D

  19. #19
    Super Member featherweight's Avatar
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    I very seldom prewash. I guess everyone has their own way of doing things and that is the way I do mine!!!

  20. #20
    Super Member justwannaquilt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltE
    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA
    Is it possible that your 60" wide fabric was cotton but home dec weight fabric rather than quilting weight cotton and that's why it shrank so?

    Jan in VA
    I'm not really concerned about it ... wash and shrink first.
    Thanks for the info all mighty quilt Gods!

  21. #21
    Super Member StitchinJoy's Avatar
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    Just as a note-- many battings also shrink a bit. I always read the label when I am deciding which batting to use in which quilt. Sometimes I want a puckery antiquey look, like on my reproduction quilts, so I want the batting to shrink up a bit.

    On my favorite battings, these are the shrinkage rates.

    Hobba 80/20 shrinks about 3% after washing, warm or cool.

    Quilters Dream 100% cotton shrinks 1% in a cold wash and 3% in a warm wash.
    Quilters Dream poly shrinks only in warm wash, 1%.

    Ironically. Quilters Dream Wool doesn't shrink. Go figure.

  22. #22
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    I used to prewash-spent hrs ironing wrinkles out.the qtys I buy I would never be able to sew if I had to wash it all 1st.knock on wood-I have never had a problem because I did not prewash and saved a lot of water,time and effort

  23. #23
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitchnripper
    Quote Originally Posted by Jan in VA
    Is it possible that your 60" wide fabric was cotton but home dec weight fabric rather than quilting weight cotton and that's why it shrank so?

    Jan in VA
    I'm interested in this - why would that make a difference? Are the cottons treated differently? I learn something every day on this board :-D
    It's very possible they are treated different if it's a home dec fabric. Home dec fabrics aren't necessarily meant to be washed. It might have been a dry clean only fabric.

  24. #24
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    lots of people don't prewash for lots of reasons. you have to do something to the ends so they don't turn into a thready mess.
    you have to separate colors to avoid bleeding or use a color catcher or synthropol. and then you have to fold and press.
    sad to say, there are no shortcuts that i ever found to work.

    others prewash because because fabrics are not woven to the same thread count and will shrink unevenly. if the colors are going to bleed let them bleed now. if the fabric is going to end up limp as a rag let it happen now. if the fabric has been exposed to harmful chemicals (they are) not everyone wants them in the sewing room. fabric is manufactured in 3rd world countries and brought here. what else came along for the ride?
    also, i recently was given fabric that i thought wasn't good enough to use, but after prewashing, it shrunk in and got tighter. so, fabric that i would not have used before, i was happy to use after washing. score one for me.

    i'm a firm believer in prewashing. i want to know how much fabric i really have after shrinkage and warping, even if it means more work for me now. as for the 'wrinkly look', batting shrinks enough to get that look anyway.

  25. #25
    Super Member jljack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SherriB
    I love the wrinkly and shrunk look I get from not prewashing. But I read in one of my new quilt books that the author gets a very wrinkly look by pre-washing the fabric and using 100% cotton batting. When it is washed and dried, it is very antique looking, she said. I may give it a try and see what kind of look I get.
    Yes, that's how I get the "antique-y" look of my quilts. The Warm & Natural I use does shink slightly, just enough to give it that "used" look.

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