Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quilting question


I've assembled most of the fat quarters I need for a Flock of Triangles quilt, and I'm wondering if I should put them through the washer and dryer before going ahead. Any comments will be much appreciated.

OK, I'm not really here! I'm reading! Look, I'm opening a book right now! Bye!

Update, Jan. 26: Thanks for your votes and comments. Here are the poll results, in which prewashing is the clear winner:

26 comments:

Nicole said...

It is such a pain to pre-wash fabric-mine always frays in the washer and gets tangled into a mess. I do it though because I'd be heartbroken if one bleed or shrunk weird AFTER it was sewn into a quilt that took me forever to finish. I love your fabric choices!

amy [Knitty] said...

i don't prewash -- you get a nicer vintage shrinky look that way. nicole's right about the risk of bleeding, but if you use synthrapol it's less likely to happen. or just cross your fingers like i always did and jump.

:-)

happy yellow quilting!

Stacey said...

I always pre-wash! the fabric WILL shrink, and this way you are cutting accurate measurements. Plus, no risk of bleeding!

Maria said...

I don't prewash anything. I've made hundreds of quilts and never had a problem. Having said that, I also by quality fabric. I had a king sized quilt that had lots of red in it. The first week I had it on my bed one of my five little angels threw up all over it. I threw it in the wash machine with a Shout color catcher and it was fine. I also like the way a quilt looks after its washed if the fabrics shrink up a bit. Besides who needs more laundry with five kids!

~Jo~ said...

I believe in washing before sewing, it'll keep the quilt from puckering too. Although for the vintage look, I think you shouldn't wash the fabric.

If you do wash, do take the time to serge or zigzag the edges to keep it from fraying. :)

sgeddes said...

I don't quilt, but will offer some advice from my mom who is a wonderful quilter. She does prewash all fabrics. If you clip the corners off of the fabric it will really cut down on the frayed edges.

Veronique said...

So, you are not afraid that the fabrics will shrink at different rates? I was taught to wash/dry fabrics systematically, so much so that I haven't *not* done it!

Kathleen C. said...

I treat my fabrics in whatever way I will treat the final item (whether quilt, garment, home dec item). For reasons of bleeding, differential shrinkage... basically the discovering of any problem prior to doing all the hard work to put it together.
But if you want the wrinkled vintage look buy a cotton batting... it will shrink and the fabric and stitches will give you that nice vaguely puckered look. I like the kind that is needlepunched to hold together with minimal quilting.

Engranon said...

With fat quarters, I usually just swish them in some water in the sink, wring them out, and then dry them in the dryer. If I have a lot, I will put them in the washer on gentle cycle. The rinse at least gets the sizing out and the drying takes care of any shrinkage. If you wait until everything is sewn and quilted, odds are that one of the fabrics will shrink differently and everything will end up wrinkly.

Mia said...

After having had a problem with a fabric bleeding badly several years, I always prewash. That is unless I am planning to make a vintage look quilt. But I also make sure that the fabric does not get mixed in with my regular stash.

If you are using all yellows, you might be okay but I would still wash them. One trick that I do is to take them out of the dryer damp and iron them right away.

Celia said...

I'm surprised at how many people said they don't prewash. I've been sewing for almost fifty years. Take it from me: always prewash and dry the way you plan to launder the finished item. I like the tip about clipping the corners. I'll have to try that next time.

Bertha said...

I always prewash, dry, then iron any fabrics before quilting with them. Pain in the ass, yes, but I'd flip if I had any bleeding or weird shrinking issues, so I always take the extra step.

Karen said...

As a quilting teacher, I would say it depends on both the fabric and the project. If some of the fabric has been washed, I would recommend washing those that have not been laundered. If the fabrics are colors that will likely bleed (like red or teal), I would recommend washing and treating with a product like Retayne. In the case of your reproduction yellows, I would probably not wash, as they are not likely to bleed. Once your project is quilted (use cotton batting), I would recommend washing and drying. That would give the quilt a vintage look. Hope that helps!

carolyn said...

i can send you an entire book on this subject. i'll just leave it at this:

a) if you use 100% cotton unwashed batting, you will STILL get the crinkly quilt look post washing that people claim is the reason they don't pre-wash fabric. it's about the batting content / not the washing of the outer fabrics.

b) do you want to find out after the entire quilt is together that one piece of fabric has found a way to run?

c) do you want to find out after the entire quilt is together that one piece of fabric decided to shrink a different amount than the others?

i know people who both those have happened to. if you decide not to, you have to be willing to accept the risk.

for the fraying - just bring scissors with you to the washer and cut all the frays off BEFORE you put it in the dryer (after washer/before dryer) / that's how i find it easiest to deal with.

Monika said...

When I still used to do quilts and patchwork, I was lazy in the beginning and did not wash my cotton fabrics. Had several bad expieriences. Washed whatever fabric came into the house after that, ironed it too, so they were ready to use.

amanda said...

ooh, lots of opinions! I usually pre-wash, only because of the danger of runny colours. I agree with Carolyn on the wrinkly/vintage look - that definitely comes from the batting shrinking (in my experience). I usually use unwashed, 100% cotton fabric and I do get that wrinkly look even with pre-washed fabric.

Having said all that - if I was pretty sure that the colours aren't going to run (or if running colours don't matter to me on a monochromatic-ish quilt), I probably wouldn't pre-wash. Mostly because I'm often impatient and ready to start cutting & sewing!

Good luck :) And, look at you, opening your book and doing all that reading ;)

Amy said...

Not washing leaves the sizing in the fabric making it a little stiffer and robust to my quilting machinations (teehee). I quilt in very vivid colors and have had no issues with bleeding when washing in cold waters. I agree that the slight puckering that often happens when the finished quilt does get washed makes it look more quilt-y (which I like).

Brooke said...

What cute fabrics! Can't wait to see them as a quilt.

caronmosey said...

This quilt is going to be so great - look at those sunny yellows!

I ALWAYS prewash my fabric... especially after having a great, large quilt go bad by washing it once it was finished... and having all my beautiful colors run on the white fabric. Wash it - you'll be glad you did!

Caron in Michigan
http://blog.caronmosey.com

Jo Stockton said...

Not that you need anyone else to weigh in, but I always try to prewash as well. I'm with the above quilter who wets the fabric and dries it in the dryer. That way you bypass the fraying and it saves water (if you have a washer at home) and/or money (if you're at the laundromat).

Good luck!!!

Lisa Boyer said...

A factor not yet mentioned: amount of quilting you're planning to do. If you quilt heavily, those shrinky fabrics are not going anywhere--they are stuck down in place permanently. On the other hand, with light quilting/tying, you'd definitely want to pre-wash so that everything will be evenly shrunk. Low thread count fabrics (ie. cheap fabrics) tend to shrink up more in my experience and will pull their lightly quilted neighbors out of place.

By the way, I have used one of the fabrics in this picture, and would definitely recommend pre-washing the one that looks like little owl eyeballs. Since I can't see your entire assortment, I'd say pre-wash the whole lot. I'm not usually a pre-washer, but you have a little suspect in there....

shannon said...

fabrics will sometimes shrink differently. so a prewash & dry is a good idea. i'm sure by now you have decided what you would do, but wanted to add that two cents. :)

Anonymous said...

The general rule is if the quilt your making is going to be washed (as opposed to a wall quilt for example) then you should pre-wash the fabric on cool, gentle cycle. Then shake it out (and pull/cut off threads)before putting in a dryer. Only dry in on low heat until it's still slightly damp - then take out and iron. It will iron so easily when it's slighty damp. Don't make the mistake of baking it in the oven - the wrinkles will be very difficult to get out then.

Daphne said...

Heehee. Strong opinions here! I have gone both ways and generally do prewash, and usually just wash all new cotton fabric right after I buy it (or in groups but you know). I have a tip for you though: Pull out your washed fabric from the machine and carefully cut away the strands that have peeled out and bunched up the fabrics before you throw them in the dryer. The wrinkly, accordianed fabric will smooth out in the dryer just fine, but if you don't do this, it'll be really hard to iron flat.

AnnaT said...

I pre-wash now. I too had a colour bleed onto cream which was a bit irritating. So now if I buy material it goes straight into the machine as soon as I come home on a speed wash with jeans. When it's still damp I iron it. And that way I know everything I have is ready to use.

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