To Pre-Wash Fabric or Not To Pre-wash?

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Mudblubets posted on Wed, Jun 4 2014 8:13 PM

It appears that this question has been asked many times before, but I am a beginning quilter just starting my very first quilt and am torn on what to do.  All my fabric is 100% cotton  and I will be machine piecing the blocks and machine quilting for a queen size quilt.  I understand there is an ongoing debate on whether or not to pre-wash your fabric, and to date I have received a 50/50 response on which way to go.  I did wash a measured swatch of dark fabric in order to test for bleeding; and although it was color fast and did not shrink at all on the lengthwise grain, on the crosswise grain it shrank a good 1/8 of an inch or better.  Is that a significant amount of shrinkage and for a project of this size would it be better to pre-wash all my fabric?  I'd really rather not if I don't have to, as it is a lot of extra work and I understand there can likewise be problems from washing, such as tangling and unraveling.  Thanks for any help or advice you can give.  

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Thea replied on Wed, Jun 4 2014 8:21 PM

I always love to talk quilting so if we rehash an old question for a newbie - that is fun to me - 

I do not prewash anything... When I quilt my quilts I use 100% cotton batting, I feel that if they are going to shrink as long as I use all the same fabrics they will shrink the same...

I do put a color catcher in the washer the first couple times I wash my quilts though so if anything does run it won't get far.


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Welcome to our community! I do not pre-wash. The only colors I pay strict attention to are dark indigo blues, and all reds. (I seldom use black so can't say about them.)  I check those fabrics by the swatch washing method and let them dry on a white paper towel. If a red fabric continues to bleed after checking it 2-3 times, I do not put it in my quilt. I always use the color catchers Thea mentioned when I wash my quilts the first couple times.  


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gini replied on Wed, Jun 4 2014 10:20 PM

hi mudblubets, welcome to the group.  I prewash everything before it goes in my studio.   I don't find the tangling and unraveling much of a problem and it's easily fixed.  as well as the issues with shrinkage and bleeding, the fabrics have pesticides fungicides and other chemicals that I don't care to breathe all day long.

gini in north idaho

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