Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fabrics: Prewash or No?????

When you start a new quilting you pre-wash your fabrics first??? I have heard some say never.....I have seen this past week, two different quilters who had major issues after washing a quilt that the fabrics were not pre-washed to begin with.

What is your take on this, as I am still fairly new to this quilting business....and well, after lots of work, I'd hate to see it messed up....

I tend to like the way the fabrics "shrink" after the quilt has been quilted and washed....but on the other hand....will I still get that effect if I don't pre-wash the fabrics....

Opinions greatly appreciated!!!


  1. I ALWAYS pre-wash my fabrics. I prefer to work with it after it's has the sizing washed out. That said, I LOVE that shrinkie look of a quilt that has shrunk ever-so-slightly around it's quilting. That is why I always use cotton batting for my quilts. My favorite...Warm & Natural! Love your fabrics!!


  2. NEVER. i like the crispness of new fabrics. "Knock on wood" bleeding fabrics has never been an issue. i did recently buy those colour catchers and used the recently. Use good quality fabrics. if you prewash then you have to do tons of ironing before you even start to work with the fabric. I know it is about 50-50 out there in quilt land as to who washes and who doesn't. good luck. have you chosen a pattern for these wonderful fabrics?

  3. I always prewash all fabric for ANY project.

  4. Suzanne, I was taught to prewash.
    Two reasons...
    1.fabrics don't all shrink the same amount. It depends on the the quality of the greige goods, the base cotton fabric that they print the design on. The quality of the cotton, the thickness of the threads that were woven together, how many threads per inch.

    2. You will catch dyes that run before you sew those fabricsa into a quilt. The chemical process of dyeing fabrics can vary greatly and sometimes mistakes are made at the factory that mean the dye is not set. Wash all new fabrics with a square of muslin... If your muslin turns pink or blue then you know you have dye that is not completely set. You will want to find the fabric by the process of elimination and wash with retayne or some other product to set the dye. Some people say vinegar helps. ?? I don't know. Occasionally you will get a fabric that continues to run and you will need to get rid of it. You do not want to spend hours making a quilt only to have your red fabric run all over your white. Best way to avoid this is to buy from a quilt store, not from a chain store.

    Now, all this being said, My sister does not wash the fabrics that she is only going to use on a water color wallhanging quilt. It it never going to need to be washed if it just hangs on the wall (gentle vacuuming will remove dust.)

    Hope this helps.

  5. I always pre -wash yardage. I'm afraid of shrinkage or bleeding.

    However you can't wash layer cakes, or jelly rolls and I'm just about to find out if that's going to be a problem with a quilt I've made.

    Personally I'd pre-wash.

  6. Well...there are for the most part two schools of thought. Pre-washing will take care of the shrinkage or bleeding of course. I do not like to prewash because I like a vintage look to my quilts after they are washed after the quilt is made...they kind of have a puckered look which makes my quilts look like they have been around a while.

    If you prewash your fabrics before hand and then wash your quilting has taken place, you won't get a vintage look.

    Now all that being said...I really believe you should prewash these fabrics because the contrast of the fabrics is high and I would be afriad of the fabrics bleeding. Also, you wouldn't want a vintage using these fabrics anyway. So my vote for this particular project is that you prewash.

    Oh, I would not suggest prewashing fabric that you would purchase in a kit or any precut fabrics like "jelly rolls", "layer cakes", "charm packs", etc.

    Hope this helps you with your quilt and future projects.

  7. My Mom is a quilter and said to pre-wash ALWAYS!

  8. My grandma prewashes hers. She says it doesn't all shrink the same and it might bleed to the other fabrics, too if it's not washed first.

  9. It's such a toss up. I don't think bleeding and fading is as much as issue as in years gone by. I agree with an earlier poster. I don't pre-wash for wall hangings and things that won't need regular laundering.

  10. 50/50 :) My mom & Grandmother were fabulous seamstresses & thier rule, never wash fabric for clothing, sometimes for quilting... that doesn't help at all, does it? :)
    Can you use a small square, say 4", & see if it shrinks or bleeds ??? I do custom sewing & if it will be washed, I will test it that way 1st, if I am unsure.
    Beautiful fabric, BTW... can't wait to see what you do with it.

  11. I usually prewash, especially if I'm using dark colors (red is notorious for running). I just throw one of those color catchers in the wash so I know if I have a problem fabric or not. The vintage look depends a lot on the batt that you're using too.

  12. Depends on the fabric. If it's a bright colour I take a piece of it and put it in water to see if it runs. If it does then I use epsom salts and vinegar in a sink full of water to set the color. I rinse after each soak to make sure it's set. If it's stubborn I then use Retayne in the washing machine. Generally I don't like to wash fabric exactly because of the crinkly factor once it's quilted. I love it. If you buy good quality quilting fabric it shouldn't shrink or bleed generally but I have had it happen occasionally so always do a test. If I'm using flannel I always wash and dry twice before using because it does shrink a fair amount.

  13. Interesting question: I have always pre-washed my fabrics. Sometimes I don't if they don't shrink. I am surprised at the commenter above who said her mother and grandmother never pre-washed for clothing. That is when I especially do it so I don't find something to be too small after making it due to shrinkage. Sounds like you have more saying to wash first. Good luck with your project!


  14. I do pre-wash my fabrics, because I've had some fabrics bleed dye when they first get wet, and I certainly don't want them bleeding on other fabrics. In a completed quilt, it would be a disaster, imo.

  15. You know me. I'm a prewasher. I prewash everything as soon as I get it home. If you want that crinkly vintage shrinkage, a good dip starching and ironing and a cotton batting will give you that without the risk of running dye. On the charm squares? I wash them in a mesh bag designed for ladies delicate lingerie. I've only had one red fabric run in all my years of quilting. And, the wierd thing was that I used a lot of that same piece of prewashed red fabric, but only one patch out of the whole quilt ran. Wierd. See ya'. Lane

  16. I used to always prewash, but in recent years, I never do. One time, I had a piece of dark green run and fade on a block, but it has never happened since. As I remember, it had been prewashed. I always use the color catchers, and no problems.
    Mary Jane


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