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Wash fabric before making quilt?

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ALICEW-4 Posted: Thu, Sep 13 2012 10:42 AM

I am a new quilter (have not been at it very long) and have read and heard different thoughts on prewashing fabric before making a quilt.  Any opinions/advice from veteran quilters would be very much appreciated.  Thank you.

 

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Hi Alice,

First off welcome to the club. You will love it here.

I recently finished a quilt that is an indoor hopscotch mat with many different colors and pieces of fabrics. Some of them were fabrics I had made clothing from and some of them were new. The newer pieces were not washed and the older ones for clothes were washed. I always understood that all the fabric should be washed or none of the fabric should be washed. I did wash it after I finished the quilt. It turned out beautiful. It did not make any difference one way or another. That is just my opinion. I think it's a matter of your taste. I've read a lot of information on this site as well as others. All the information I've gathered is different so I just do it my way. Good luck. Hope to see some pictures of your quilts.  Again, welcome.

Georgetown CA I'd Rather Be Quilting

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Sue replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 11:10 AM

HI Alice,

I think it depends on the feel of the fabric.  Sometimes I wash and sometimes I do not.  If the fabric feels rough or "yucky" I wash, always in cold water with a scant tablespoon of soap, just enough to get the yucky out.  DH and I visited a factory in Mass once time to see how fabric is made.  Really interesting process.  The fabric is washed several times during the process, mostly to get out the excess dye used int he printing process.  It is also washed to "shrink" it.  So when you wash your fabric the only thing you may be washing out is more excess dye.  I say, make up your own mind, it it feels bad to your hand, wash it.  If not, cut and sew.  Whatever you decide will be the right decision for you.

 

In The Piney Woods of Deep East Texas

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gini replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 11:36 AM

i am in the prewash group. i prewash everything.   i bought 7 red fabric last week most of them were in the civil war collection.  all but one bled, one of the greens and one of the blues bled.  you take your chances by not prewashing. 

the other issue is all the chemicals they put in the fabric.   i do a lot of applique and i want the sizing out so the fabric is softer and more malleable to work with.   the other problem with chemicals are the added things to  keep pests from eating the material before you get it.  they coat the fabric with pesticides and   fungicides.  any cloth coming into this country is spayed on the docks before it is off loaded, and most of the fabric here is sprayed so it doesn't get eaten in the warehouses.   if you have any reactions to cloth after you buy, it is probably one of these chemicals.    i spend a lot of time in my sewing room, and i don't like to breathe in the fumes either.  

gini in north idaho

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ALICEW-4 replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 12:49 PM

Thank you, Melissa.  I have discovered that doing it "my way" is the best method for quilting.  I believe that quilters are the most happy people in the world for that very reason. 

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ALICEW-4 replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 12:54 PM

Thank you for your response, Sue.  It appears that making up my own mind is the way to go.  And, since I am new to this, I think I will start with potholders and ploace mats, wash my fabric the first time and then make another without washing to see if there is any difference in the feel of the finished product, and if there is any difference in the sewing.   Appreciate your thoughts. 

 

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ALICEW-4 replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 1:00 PM

Thanks, Gini, for sharing information.  I had not heard about the spraying the fabric with chemicals and pesticides; however, it does make sense that it needs to be done.  I want to make a baby quilt, so I will wash the fabric (maybe twice) before making the quilt; and then I plan to wash the quilt before giving it to the baby's Mom and Dad to make sure there is no bleeding of the colors.  I am discovering that quilting is a "do it your way" activity. 

 

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MaggieNae replied on Thu, Sep 13 2012 2:06 PM

I've even used the color catch sheets when prewashing my fabrics.

They're awesome!

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Just last weekend I was at an outdoor craft event with my quilted items.  Weather turned nasty and everything I make was saturated with rain before I could gather it up and put it in the car.

I am not inclined to prewash but last weekend may have changed that policy for me. 

I had a basket of quilted pot holders which we made from fabric which was not prewashed.  No need to prewash because I was not concerned about shrinkage on a pot holder.  The basket of Christmas themed pot holders had a lot of red and the colors bled from one to another.  Many were ruined because of the rain.

If for nothing else, I will be washing my red fabrics before quilting with them.

Darlene

from Western New York

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Just last weekend I was at an outdoor craft event with my quilted items.  Weather turned nasty and everything I make was saturated with rain before I could gather it up and put it in the car.

I am not inclined to prewash but last weekend may have changed that policy for me. 

I had a basket of quilted pot holders which we made from fabric which was not prewashed.  No need to prewash because I was not concerned about shrinkage on a pot holder.  The basket of Christmas themed pot holders had a lot of red and the colors bled from one to another.  Many were ruined because of the rain.

As stated, prewashing is a matter of preference.  Color catchers would probably have taken care of the problem but I do not wash my pot holders before selling so that didn't help in this situation.

Take my experience and use this for what it is worth to you. If for nothing else, I will be washing my red fabrics before quilting with them.

Darlene

from Western New York

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gini replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 12:20 PM

i don't know about the fabric being preshrunk.   i haven't had a fabric not shrink when i prewashed it.  i always lose at least an inch in width with shrinkage.  the fabric also moves more to "true" and the selvedges move further apart by up to several inches.   when i am calculating fabric needs , because i always prewash,   i take this shrinkage and moving into consideration when buying.  

if your are making simpler quilts the movement of the fabric on the selvedge probably isn't an issue.   if you don't care if your fabric bleeds, you probably don't need to prewash, especially on a dark quilt.   if your quilt is utilitarian, you probably don't need to prewash.   i do a lot of applique, i need my backgrounds stable and not moving on me after they are appliqued.   i don't want setting triangles moving either.  when i make a skinny border, i don't want it twisting on me after the quilt is made.  if you are doing  really dense quilting the movement of the fabric isn't an issue.  i don't know until the top is made, how dense i want the quilting. 

   i just think you are safer all the way around with prewashing.   i've heard way  too many disaster stories from not prewashing.

gini in north idaho

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