14.5.10

To prewash or not, that is the question



various prints and batiks from my stash

Why bother prewashing fabrics these days?  It appears that more often than not, quilters are choosing to use fabrics without prewashing.  I have two quilts in progress (snowball and color block) in which I decided to throw caution to the wind and not prewash.  I'm holding my breath ... fingers crossed that I don't get any bleeding or excessive shrinking. 

However, when I use batiks, I ALWAYS prewash (once I was even crazy enough to prewash a pack of 2.5" Bali batik strips, which I don't recommend).  I start with a test.


testing for color-fastness

The easiest way to do this is to dump the fabric in a large bowl of water and let it sit for a few minutes.  Brilliant reds and dark colors tend to bleed quite a bit.  I change the water a few times and then throw the fabric in the washing machine with the rest of the fabric I want to prewash, using in a color catcher for good measure. 

Ultimately, I've decided that I prefer working with prewashed fabrics and so my goal is to prewash everything once it comes through the door.    On occasion, I'll use sizing spray if I feel I need a little more crispness but otherwise, I prefer the feel of washed fabrics.

Do you prewash your fabrics?  Always, sometimes, or never ....

An idea ...




12 comments:

Lesly said...

Mostly I prewash. I prefer to work with prewashed fabrics. As far as shrinkage, I'm not sure there's much of a difference. And for colourfastness, I always prewash reds, 100%. Also, I'm a big fan of Colour Catchers. I just bought four boxes of them when we went across the border to NY on Mother's Day - we can't get them here in Canada.

Lesly said...

P.S. Love your idea! Beautiful fabrics and great block!

Amy said...

Always!

La Mañosa said...

I've gone back and forth on this but ever since I was introduced to Best Press last year, I've begun pre-washing all of my fabrics and just adding that to stiffen them up a bit for cutting and sewing. That stuff is miraculous!

I look forward to seeing the block come together. I love stars!

Helen said...

I pre wash fabrics which I know I will use for fusible projects but I've now stopped pre-washing fabrics for quilts (unless the fabric just screams"I'll run"!! and yes, I also love Colour Catchers!! I use them for all of my washing - even hand washing! Yellow is another colour which will run and run, especially homespun. If I'm pre-washing fabric, I cut off the four corners first, so when I finally use it in something, I know it's been pre-washed!

Anonymous said...

UHM , NEVER WAS 5 INCH SQUARES OR EVEN 10 INCH SQUARES LIKE THOSE LAYER CAKES , JELLY ROLLS OR CHARM PACKS!!! MINE DISSAPEARED INTO THE WASHER THE REST DISSAPEARED INTO THE DRIER AND CAME OUT 2 INCHES WARPED SQUARED !!!! I CALLED THE LADY THAT SOLD THEM TO ME AND SHE SAID WELL YOU JUST DONT WASH THESE THEY ARE NOT WASHABLE DUD !!! IT SHOULD HAVE SAID SO ON THE BUNDLE YOU THINK ???

wishes, true and kind said...

I never prewash and love working with fabrics that way. I haven't prewashed in over a decade.

Claudia said...

Anonymous,

A tip I got from fatquartershp.com - if you want to prewash charms, you can wash them by hand and then spin them in a salad spinner. I have done this with good results.

RETRO-fabulous said...

I always prewashed until I tried the Shout Color Catchers. Now I don't bother unless I have already washed some of the fabrics for a project and even then, I'm sure some slips by unwashed.

Batiks are a different story. I prewash AND send a color catcher home with them.

Rebekah said...

I always prewash yardage, but I never prewash charm squares. Now I've been getting into the habit of washing all of my new fabric purchases right away.

Thanks for sharing your tips for handling red fabric. I will definitely try that next time.

Cathy said...

I never prewash...except for a red, black or navy solid. Even then, they don't seem to bleed if you are using the good quality fabrics. I haven't used batiks so can't say whether I would prewash them or not. It's so interesting seeing what others do. xo

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

I found this post and the comments very helpful. I am just a humble sewer who recently purchased a charmpack and had no idea whether to send it into the washer.