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Thread: Wow - fabric shrinkage.

  1. #1
    Senior Member cowpie2's Avatar
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    After reading so many posts about pre-washing vs. not pre-washing, I decided to do a little test. I just picked up fabric for a quilt and the thought of pre-washing and pressing 4 yard pieces makes me tired just thinking about it.

    So I prewashed and dried two sample pieces. Pre-measured and had one piece 19 x 46 and one 18.5 x 45. No color run from the navy to the white - score. but width wise both fabrics shrunk. The 19x46 now measures 19 x 43 (3 whole inches less) and the 18.5 by 45 - is 18.5x44 (kona cotton on this one). So both pieces shrunk on the width.

  2. #2
    Super Member maryb119's Avatar
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    Thats why I prewash. Thanks for the info.

  3. #3
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    Some fabrics barely shrink at all and others scrunch up like that Shrinky Dinks plastic when you put it in the oven.

    I don't pre-wash, but I do saturate the fabric with diluted Best Press before I press it - you can watch it puckering up and getting smaller, sometimes.

    You don't want that happening after you've assembled your quilt - especially when the fabrics differ in shrinkage. Yikes - what a mess that could make of your careful piecing. :(

  4. #4
    Senior Member cowpie2's Avatar
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    Differing shrinkage, especially since this is of questionable quality was why I did the test. I'd be less concerned with reputable brand from LQS. But I had a feeling on this. I like the puckery look of old quilts, but I sure don't want a quilt that is all wonky because I didn't pre-wash.

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I always pre-wash. I still get the puckery look, because the batting shrinks. I have never understood this argument about not pre-washing to get the puckery look. Almost all old quilts were made from fabric scraps that were prevously parts of clothing. Of course it had been pre-washed! My theory is that quilts that do not have the puckery look either have never been washed or were made with polyester batting, which doesn't shrink.

  6. #6
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    Dunster, that is a good point. I had never really thought about old quilts coming from clothing scraps that had been prewashed 100 times. I have been not prewashing because I like the puckery look, but I suppose the batting shrinking would do the job, too. mmm..... It may be time for me to rethink this.

  7. #7
    Senior Member doll-lady's Avatar
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    good concerns on all of this.

  8. #8
    Super Member thepolyparrot's Avatar
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    I don't pre-wash primarily because I'm lazy.

    I've got to starch and press the fabric before I use it anyway, so I might as well get it wet enough to shrink it before I press it.

    But I also wash my quilts as soon as they're done, so if I've pre-washed the fabrics before cutting and piecing, too, then the fabric is even less "new" looking. I like my quilts to be puckery but I like the fabric to be as new looking as possible when I give the quilt to someone. :)

  9. #9
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    I always pre-wash. I still get the puckery look, because the batting shrinks. I have never understood this argument about not pre-washing to get the puckery look. Almost all old quilts were made from fabric scraps that were prevously parts of clothing. Of course it had been pre-washed! My theory is that quilts that do not have the puckery look either have never been washed or were made with polyester batting, which doesn't shrink.
    I am a die hard prewasher. I would never consider not pre washing. Anyway I have a quilt that I hand quilted with poly batting and it puckered ever so slightly as well. I can only assume the shrinkage from the thread.

  10. #10
    Senior Member merrylouw's Avatar
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    I like to prewash yardage, but not FQs or small pieces. I just like the feel of the fabric and the look. Also wash the quilt when it's finished.

  11. #11
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    I don't pre-wash primarily because I'm lazy.
    My rationale as well. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  12. #12
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    I went back and started wshing all fabic I had... however do you wash FQ's.... What a mess. So many tangles.... I wonder if pinking shears would help. :)

  13. #13
    rb.
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    Anyone who wore tight jeans in the 80s knows cotton shrinks a bit more after the first wash/dry. :). I'm a pre-washer.

  14. #14
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by rb.
    Anyone who wore tight jeans in the 80s knows cotton shrinks a bit more after the first wash/dry. :). I'm a pre-washer.
    Yeah, but back in the 80's my butt wasn't expanding in the opposite direction between each washing. ;-)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by rb.
    Anyone who wore tight jeans in the 80s knows cotton shrinks a bit more after the first wash/dry. :). I'm a pre-washer.
    Yeah, but back in the 80's my butt wasn't expanding in the opposite direction between each washing. ;-)
    :lol: :lol: :thumbup:

  16. #16
    Senior Member cowpie2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheryl rearick
    I went back and started wshing all fabic I had... however do you wash FQ's.... What a mess. So many tangles.... I wonder if pinking shears would help. :)
    I've always been a pre-washer. For FQ, I have a serger, so I go around the edges with that. I do lose about 1/8 that is stitched, but I figure the fraying would be at least that, and with the serged edges everything comes out of the dryer neat and tidy.

  17. #17
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    You people are too funny!

    I have tried using pinking shears (or the pinked rotary cutter), and that does cut down on fraying. Likewise, using a mesh bag helps. I have friends who stitch the edges with their serger. However I've finally decided that it's easier to rip or cut off the threads after washing, before tossing the pieces into the dryer.

  18. #18
    Super Member SueSew's Avatar
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    This topic is driving me nuts. I came out on the side of the pre-washers. Pre-washed everything, cut the miserable threads, dealt with out of shape fabric. Sized it back into submission. Had to wash twice AFTER I finished to get the starchy slightly sticky feeling out of the material (or it could have been too many drier sheets? unclear). Now this quilt looks used, puckery (80-20 low-loft 2% shrinkage batting) plus of course the material wrinkles up, and I think the thread shrunk too. Looks lovely in its way, but a little worn. http://www.quiltingboard.com/compose...picnum=114776#

    So I read the recent posts, light dawns, and I am ready to go on the side of no pre-washing.

    Then I hear this about fabric shrinking INCHES!

    Anything that shrinks more than 1 1/4" over 42" is in my opinion too much shrinkage. At that rate (3%) an 8" block will end up being about 7 3/4". With cotton batting which shrinks about 3% too, seems to work ok. And cotton thread shrinks too.

    Either way, it gets puckered up. I guess if you use quality fabric you can control shrinkage. And if you pre-wash it needs to be consistent for all the fabric, and the batting will have to take care of itself.

    There, I've let off some steam. Too bad, I could have used it to straighten out the pre-washed fabric!



    :-) :roll:

  19. #19
    Super Member SueSew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    You people are too funny!

    I have tried using pinking shears (or the pinked rotary cutter), and that does cut down on fraying. Likewise, using a mesh bag helps. I have friends who stitch the edges with their serger. However I've finally decided that it's easier to rip or cut off the threads after washing, before tossing the pieces into the dryer.
    Dunster, when I can make something as beautiful as your avatar (in my lifetime?) I will rip fabric and fraying with confidence. Now, I approach fabric like it has a life of its own and its mission is not to get quilted by me. I pet it, I talk to it, I cajole it...LOL

  20. #20
    bbquilter's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting your results, its amazing how much fabric shrinks. I dont prewash but I quilt my quilts very heavy and it seems fine.

  21. #21
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    I always wash!

  22. #22
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by thepolyparrot
    I don't pre-wash primarily because I'm lazy.
    My rationale as well. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Count me in :-)

  23. #23
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quilting prevents fabric shrinkage. Unshrunk fabric that is closely quilted will not shrink in the same way that unquilted fabric shrinks in the wash. That is one reason why I don't bother to pre-wash fabric for shrinkage. Plus, I like the old-fashioned look of 100% cotton batting; the fabrics and batting shrink up together about 3% (amount of shrinkage is controlled by the batting, not the fabric -- as long as the quilting is reasonably close together).

    I should add that people who like the flatter, more modern look for quilts do probably have to pre-wash fabric and use a primarily poly batting to get that look. It's a look I often prefer for wallhangings.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cowpie2's Avatar
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    Sue Sew -

    I actually am hard on my quilts when washing, warm water and straight into the dryer. Thus far, most of my quilts are gifted where they won't have the luxury of gentle washing (family members in the marines, airforce and national guard). So while the pre-washing fads material a bit, it is nice to get any uneven shrinking out of the way. I find the poly battings don't result in so much wrinkling if you don't like wrinkles.

  25. #25
    Super Member TonnieLoree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by rb.
    Anyone who wore tight jeans in the 80s knows cotton shrinks a bit more after the first wash/dry. :). I'm a pre-washer.
    Yeah, but back in the 80's my butt wasn't expanding in the opposite direction between each washing. ;-)
    Well said and point taken. :lol:

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