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    The Prewash Debate

    Hello everyone in the quilting community. I'm new here and am from Indiana.

    I recently purchased the book "Quilting For Dummies" and I've been reading and studying it very carefully. In the beginning chapters it talks about prewashing all fabrics because of sizing and bleeding. While I'm still learning some of the quilting lingo as well, I understood up until I washed my precut strips that I just recently bought.

    I have been in tears off and on all day because I prewashed precut strips. They frayed and tangled and it's a mess I cannot undo. I have some quilter's cotton I was planning to use for backing fabric and now I'm wondering if I should even wash that. Now I'm questioning whether or not I even bought the right fabric. I thought I was understanding quilting.

    Back to my original issue... I was wondering what the more experienced quilters, like yourselves , think about prewashing precuts and yardage? I'm afraid to wash fabrics again because of this experience, but I don't want to put lots of time into making an entire quilt, assuming I can get that far, and have it fall apart the first time in the washer.

    Please, any tips, suggestions, or even sharing your prewashing stories are very much appreciated.

    #2
    Re: The Prewash Debate

    ugh I'm crying for you and your fabric!!


    what I do:

    *NEVER* prewash precuts...
    *NEVER* prewash yardage...
    *NEVER* prewash anything...

    LOL...

    you will see different trains of thought on this subject...basically I haven't heard of anyone washing pre-cuts due to the nature of the beast. yardages I know of people who wash and don't wash...it's a preference. I don't wash anything and just use color catchers in my laundry when I wash my quilts after I finish them.
    Michele

    Comment


      #3
      Re: The Prewash Debate

      Thank you for your reply shell.scraps!

      Ya know, when I was reading about the prewashing, I thought it would seem a little difficult and almost silly to wash 2.5" strips of fabric or anything else relatively small. BUT, I went against what I thought and followed the instructions. One VERY hard lesson was learned and that's that I'm never washing anything precut again!! lol

      What I'm afraid of now is, what if I get my quilt completely finished and then wash it and it shrinks like cotton usually does? I don't want to imagine putting my heart and soul into a quilt to have it ruined by the evil washing machine (that's what I've been calling it all night LOL). This will be my first quilt. I'm just starting out with a lap quilt. I guess I'm wondering what the odds are of it shrinking and hurting the finished quilt, or will it be ok...?

      Sorry if I seemed irritated in my original post. I was, but I certainly didn't mean to take it out on the forum! After I reread it, I thought I sounded harsh.

      I guess if nothing else, I have scrap fabrics to practice with!

      Comment


        #4
        Re: The Prewash Debate

        I pre-wash larger cuts of fabric, but not strips. I use a color catcher when I pre-wash, and if I am using fabric that I do not believe has been pre-washed, I will again use the color catcher when I wash the finished quilt.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: The Prewash Debate

          oh I didn't take your post as being mean to the forum!! It's a bad day when that happens..and venting is a allowed..and expected!!

          shrinkage has never bothered me. I'm of the school that quilts are meant to be crinkly and crumply and that just adds to their character. though as I said, there are people with me..and people against me. it just depends on how you feel about the whole issue.

          but as a rule of thumb if you are going to wash...only wash yardages...never pre-cuts. and if you are *really* worried about shrinkage make sure you prewash your batting too...I use Warm n Natural..it shrinks...sometimes alot!!

          here are the instructions from the WnN website on how to wash their batting:

          The soft, natural cotton goes through a gentle mechanical cleaning to pick out cotton plant and seed remnants. The tiny plant particles that remain lend a special look to crafts when used as an exterior fabric and will not damage your fabric when used in your quilt. Shrinkage will be about 3% with your first washing. Many quilters prefer not to pre-wash to achieve the unique effect created by the slight shrinkage of the batting when the completed quilt is washed. Please follow these directions if you wish to pre-wash your batt:
          1. Hand wash in a basin or tub with a mild detergent. Do not agitate or spin in your washing machine.
          2. Soak for 20 minutes, then rinse several times.
          3. Squeeze water out. Rolling in a towel will help to remove excess water.
          4. Dry in a cool or warm dryer or allow to dry flat.

          Once quilted Warm & Natural cotton batting can be machine washed again and again without fear of separation or bunching.
          you might want to check out the manufacturer's website for the batting you are using and see if they offer instructions as well.
          Michele

          Comment


            #6
            Re: The Prewash Debate

            I usually prewash, especially batiks. But I recently did a quilt with precuts and didn't prewash any part of the quilt. I always have to wash the finished quilt because my assistant quilter is my golden retriever.

            Comment


              #7
              Re: The Prewash Debate

              I prewash yardage, most of the time, but not pre-cuts.

              I bought some color catchers by Shout (I think that's the company) and tossed 2 into the wash with the quilt I just finished. I wanted to wash it before I gifted it. No bleeding, everything looks beautiful!

              Good luck!
              ~barb

              Comment


                #8
                Re: The Prewash Debate

                Thank you everyone for the replies. I am definitely going to have to get those color catchers...

                quiltnotes: I completely understand... I have a black cat that really liked that tangled mess of strips I had on the floor the other day LOL!

                myholidayboyz: I'm glad to hear your quilt turned out beautiful!!

                shell.scraps: I believe I bought Mountain Mist batting. I will definitely read the instructions. It might take me a year to do this lap quilt because I want to make sure I do EVERYTHING the way I'm supposed to. I might be asking A LOT of questions on here before it's all said and done lol.

                Maybe you can help me with another little question... I'm not quite understanding the difference between backing and batik?

                Thanks again ladies!!!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: The Prewash Debate

                  Originally posted by cathys311 View Post
                  Maybe you can help me with another little question... I'm not quite understanding the difference between backing and batik?

                  Thanks again ladies!!!
                  backing is any fabric that you use to back your quilt

                  batik is a way of resist dying that leaves negative space in the colors and creates designs with it. sometimes it can look like a modern tie dye and others it looks like it's marbleized.
                  Michele

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: The Prewash Debate

                    I'm a pre-washer. NOT of the pre-cuts though. I will just have to go with the flow on that. I really want to know how the fabric will look and feel after it has been washed before I put it into a quilt.

                    When I pre-wash I run the most narrow surge down the cut edge to keep it from fraying. I have also used a slight zig-zag or a straight stitch to keep the fabric edge in check. I have heard from some folks that they nip off the corners of the fabric at an angle on the selvedge and that stops the fraying, but as I haven't tried that method, I can't recommend it. The stitching usually gets trimmed off when I square up the fabrics before cutting, but it is usually narrow enough to fall into the seam allowance if not.

                    It sounds like you may be able to salvage Honey Bun (1.5") strips if you can get the mass untangled. I'd be mad too, Jelly Rolls are not cheap. I'd also be cranky that I went against my gut feeling, and knew better. (Been there, done that, STILL kicking myself over some of them.)

                    For your backing you can also piece together fabrics to give the back side of your quilt some additional interest. It is a good way to use up odds and ends of the fabrics from your quilt top.

                    Some batiks have beautiful patterns worked into the dye process or over-laid in metallic inks. You can use batiks as backing fabrics if you wish.
                    Last edited by toggpine; March 25, 2010, 03:06 AM. Reason: 'cause my fingers wouldn't spell right
                    Be who you are and say what you feel
                    because those who mind don't matter,
                    and those who matter don't mind. - Dr. Seuss

                    http://www.toggpine.wordpress.com

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: The Prewash Debate

                      Hi Everyone! My rule of thumb has been that if I am using precuts that I don't prewash, then I don't prewash the yardage. If I am not using any precuts, then I will prewash all my yardage so that everything is in the same form, either prewashed or not. I never knew about washing the batting so Thanks for that information. I really like using the Warm and Natural batting.
                      I have found a great place for buying backing material. ThousandsofBolts.com They have a large selection of wide backing material. I really don't like to piece my backing.
                      I hope everyone has a great day quilting!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: The Prewash Debate

                        I agree with KarenB with a little extra - If any of the fabrics in the quilt are washed, then wash them all...that way n the finished project all fabrics will look the same. I personally don't wash anything unless I'm not sure of the quality (which rarely happens since I make a point to only purchase "quilt shop quality" fabrics), or unless I"m going to be adding embellishments such as paints or inks or glues for any reason...fabric that still retains the manufacturer's sizing doesn't accept paint/etc easily.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Re: The Prewash Debate

                          It depends on what kind of quilt I am making. I just made a baby quilt and I pre washed everything since I wanted it to hold up to lots of washings. My wall quilts, I don't bother. Welcome to this forum. Please ask lots of questions. There is an incredible amount of knowledge here. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend teach me to quilt. Then I took some classes. the tutorials on this site are awesome and really get me excited to try new techniques. Post photos, we love to share!

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                            #14
                            Re: The Prewash Debate

                            If you want to get into art quilting, save all those gnarly threads from the prewash disaster (or any subsequent pre-wash) and use them to applique onto fun art quilts. If you have a quild in your area, I"m sure someone might want to add them to their collection of "stuff to use". Even out of what appears to be a mess you can find something good. One art quilt I recently saw contained these gnarly threads stitched on to look like ocean kelp and other plant life, depending on the color of the thread.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Re: The Prewash Debate

                              Thanks ktbb!! I never thought of that. It's a really great idea! I actually spent a few days untangling that mess and ironed what I could. I've been using those fabrics for practice since I'm new at all this. The only thing I have left to do on my first quilt is the binding. And I'm scared! lol

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