Quilt ADD in therapy

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Colorado, United States
Other than my family, the passion of my life is quilting. An eclectic, I love a wide variety of styles and techniques encompassing both machine and hand work. I am a longarm quilter who can work for you. I enjoy any style, from pantographs to all-over to full custom, ranging from traditional to modern. I love bringing vintage tops to life and am willing to work with a challenging quilt top. Instagram: lyncc_quilts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My WIP Wed #21 - You Keep Asking Should You Prewash?

Hi, everyone! Let me share my latest prewashing experience with you because your eyes may just POP!

My WIP this week is only the prewashing of some 158 pieces of fabric from my "Listen With Your Eyes" kit for the class in two weeks. 

I have a really bad systemic allergic reaction if I sew on fabrics with the sizing still on them, so I have no choice but to prewash my fabrics. Even from BOM kits and charm packs, which can be a pain because the pieces are too small to go through the washing machine. Let me share what I see fairly frequently when I'm prewashing these little pieces in the sink, and you judge for yourself if you think it might be safest to prewash your quilting fabrics.

Please note, these are all high-quality, premium quilting cottons, not cheaper fabrics that we have more reason to be cautious with.

I use a double sink, washing in almost uncomfortably warm water with Woolite. (I wash my quilts in the machine with cool water with Woolite). I rinse with warm water then cool water. And if I'm using my steel kitchen sink instead of my white porcelain bathroom sinks, I use my giant white mixing bowl to rinse in. This lets me see the color of the water.

So, I just throw all the similar-colored pieces in the cleaning water, work each piece unharshly for a bit, squish out the sudsy water, and toss it in the bowl of fresh water. After all the pieces are in the bowl, I swoosh them around and dump the water.

It'll want a second rinse because of the left-over suds. About 3/4 of the time, that is all it takes, so I can squish the water out of each piece and toss the ball onto the counter while I finish the set, dump the bowl, and then use the bowl to carry the dripping pile of balls to the dryer. (A flick of the wrist with each piece opens it up nicely for the drying process.)

I washed all my greens, saw no real problem, so moved on to the turquoises since I figured they'd be fine in the dryer together. And look what happened!

Here's where you see why I say you can judge for yourself about not prewashing:

These gorgeous, saturated (and remember: top-quality) turquoises are as bad as the worst reds I've encountered for bleeding!

Look at that water~!  I rinsed and I rinsed and I rinsed.  

Now, you can't just look at the water with the fabric in it, because the water "conducts" the color, so you need to lift the pieces out of the water to truly see if the color is in the water or just emanating from the fabric. 

It took 10 good rinses to get to where the dye was no longer seeping into the water.  TEN!
(BTW - Later on, the red set took 5, and the purple set took 7.)

And I could finally carry this double set to the dryer.

And then, of course, I get to iron everything before I can cut anything. But that's just a good excuse to pop in a movie.   ;D

So: One more time - take a look at this water. (I put a white container in the sink so you could see how dense that gorgeous blue dye is in there!) This is not a rare sight with non-pastel colors, particularly from reds, blues, or purples. This is from only about 1 yard's worth of pieces. The fabric sat no longer than 10 minutes in the water. These are all top-quality quilting cottons.

Do you want to trust that the little color catcher you throw in the washer will work as desired and not let any of this color stain the pretty white or pastels that are next to your colors? What if the quilt balls up in areas so that the color catcher can't reach those spots?  

Then you get the problems that I read of on THREE separate blogs the past two weeks where quilting pals experience dye problems when they washed their quilts. It's heartbreaking when it happens, and I would always prewash my fabrics now even if it weren't for my darned allergy.  


A big "Thank you!" to Lee at Freshly Pieced for hosting WIP Wednesdays 
It really keeps me motivated to keep those UFOs going! (Go check out what everyone else is doing - there are some really neat projects out there!)

Also, Check out my BOMs AWAY Mondays regular link-up.  

This week's stats: (unchanged)

New Projects – (Listen With Your Eyes by Jacqueline deJonge)    
Completed Projects This Week -  0  
In Active Progress - 1    (Listen)
UFO Firing Range - 31.333          
Finishes for 2011 - 24  

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
One charity wheelchair quilt
Center of Marissa’s Moment of Freakishness
Marissa’s Moment Pillowcase panel
Dreamy Unicorns
Wagon Wheels West #2
Be Attitudes
We Love Kelly
Devon's Silk Spinners
Kelly's Thirties Hand Quilter
Kelly's Calico
Poor Forgotten Orphan from 15 Years Ago 


  1. Oh, you make me want to dye!!!! :) I'm chasing some different shades of purple hand dyeds - scraps - for leaves of a jacaranda tree applique. Do you sell? :)

  2. That's crazy how much dye you got out of them. I've always avoided prewashing (with the exception of reds) because I hate ironing with a passion, but you have me thinking......

  3. Yikes! That is a lot of dye. I had no choice on this last quilt, I used charm packs. I don't think those would hold up well if I pre-washed... I am sure I would lose too much fabric in the fraying. The color catcher worked, it was a little pink from the binding, and the quilt was fine. But this post really makes me rethink about pre-washing! Thanks for the information!

  4. Did you see that Lee had that problem? And with blue like you did? I have done both and haven't had any huge issues but it freaks me out every time. I have a 1/2 quarter bundle I won of Helen Mulder Peterson's Artful Home that I am very tempted to wash because the colors are so rich. And guess what the colors are? Teal blues and reds! Aha! The bleedy culprits!

  5. wow. thanks for posting the pics. points always sink in better with pictures. Now I am wondering if I should prewash my batiks. Think I will be doing that...

  6. I used to prewash all my fabrics but it seemed people around me dont so I stopped. After seeing this I think I'd better go back to pre washing!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!!

  7. Great post, I do usually prewash, I have had a colour bleed even then thou!

  8. After the reds for Peaceful Pathways, I decided to test the fabrics for my Bible quilt. Yep, they're changing the water's colour too! I don't worry too much about prewashing fabrics when a quilt is using shades that are close, but with a diverse range of colours (including white), I'm glad I tested 'em all!

    Color Catchers aren't even available up here. You guys have all the real useful laundry products. Color catchers, sizing.....

  9. I always prewash...I think that comes from my days of making clothing. But...even though I prewash everything I still use a color catcher and almost always it comes out tinted. Like you...with smaller pieces I hand rinse and am also amazed at the run off from the dyes. Batiks in particular have a lot of nasty chemicals plus some residual wax...they don't even come into my studio until they are washed.

  10. OK, you've convinced me. I'll prewash. The movie idea really had me.:)

  11. I've had similar problems. I pre-wash all fabrics coming into my sewing room. I've recently started using colour-catcher like product while washing my finished quilts too.

  12. Thanks for the detailed post! I hate all the chemical gunk in the fabrics so I wash everything as it comes in the door. I also enjoy the time getting to know my fabrics by how they behave during and after that wash and looking at them while I iron them. But I have not bothered to wash the few charm packs I have used. Now I probably will.

  13. Oh god, I never prewash my fabrics, you just gave me a good reason to do it.thanks

  14. I always prewash. Now you've given me good reason to do so.

    Your blue water is gorgeous. I would have been tempted to dye something just to see if it would translate to fabric.

  15. Well, it certainly is a good thing you washed the fabric. I do wash mine all the time. It does much better when I am appliqueing plus I want to make sure no dyes are left just like you had done.


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