Friday, April 22, 2011

To wash or not to wash??? and a Giveaway!

Meet todays featured quilter Leanne. It's great she has stopped by, she really knows her stuff!!!

Hi to you all.
I am Leanne from Mount Vincent Quilts in the Lower Hunter Valley of NSW, Australia. I am a Long Arm Quilter and a patchwork teacher at All About Sewing. I have been patchworking and quilting for 11 years. I have a Diploma in Textile Technology, so I know a bit about stuff. I would like to share a little of what I know about Washing of Fabrics. Thanks to Rebecca for having me over to share today. It's a great honour...

To wash or not to wash? ...
That is the Question Quilters the world over ask.

When fabric goes through all it’s processing, (ie. Weaving, dyeing, printing )there are a number of chemicals that it comes into contact with. One of which is Formaldehyde. The fabric is treated with this so that it can be exported around the world without attack from all the various insects. This is a very powerful chemical and can cause rashes on the skin, breathing difficulties in children and who knows what long term effects there may be.

So knowing this you would think that I would always wash fabric as soon as it comes through my door. But I don’t. Silly I know…
The only fabrics I pre wash/soak are homespun or yarn dyed fabrics in dark colours. ie, Navy, Black, all Reds and Bottle Green. These fabrics run very easily because some have excess dye left in them.

Fabric that is printed is not usually a problem because the fabric paint is heat set to stop it from coming off the fabric. Some really cheap fabric may have inferior paints that may bleed but I have not had this problem.

I prefer not to wash, as I like the starches left in the fabric to keep it firm. I find it much easier to handle. When it is washed it becomes soft and floppy. I do wash my hands when I'm finished.

If you do want to wash all of your fabric there is a couple of ways to do it.

1.To release the excess dyes in dark fabric, fill a tub or bucket with hot water and immerse the fabric into it. I place something on top of the fabric to keep it immersed eg. Laundry liquid bottle. I leave it there until the water is cold. Then you give it a quick rinse and spin in the washing machine. Line dry and press. Doing this doesn’t effect the colour of the fabric. The dye that is released is just residual dye that didn’t soak into the fibres.

2.To wash your fabric to get rid of chemicals, it needs to be washed on a full cycle in the machine with washing liquid/powder. To reduce the fraying you can place it into a pillow slip and secure the top, or some sort of laundry bag. You could overlock the ends of the fabric and place it as it is into the machine and I have heard that if you clip the corners off the fabric that it will also reduce fraying. I haven’t tried this so I can’t say if it works. Wash on a normal cycle, line dry and press.

Another dilemma is the pre-cuts. These do not wash well. They shrink a little and they fray away. I wouldn’t wash these no matter what. Just be sure to wash when you’re finished.

An upside to not washing the chemicals out is that it keeps the insects out of my stash. This can only be a good thing.
Once I have finished a quilt it is then washed before it is put onto a bed, a couch or gifted to someone else. If I’m selling the quilt I don’t wash it but I put a message in for it to be washed before use.
If you are unsure about a fabric in your newly completed quilt, I always wash in cold water, never let it soak and you can always pop a colour catcher sheet in the wash with it. This product catches any excess dye that is released into the water.
Thanks for reading and I hope I shed some light on this topic. Happy Quilting, Leanne...xo

Wanna WIN this fabric???

Leanne is also having a great GIVEAWAY over on her blog..
She is giving away a Fat Quarter bundle full of
15 FQ's in the 'Where the wind blows' Collection

Giveaway closes Tuesday 26th April 9pm.

Thank you so much Leanne for stopping by to share all your knowledge with us.
 If your a local to me, Leanne also offers a great Quilting service.. You can contact her HERE..

Thanks Leanne xx


  1. oh wow, great information about washing. I've always been a non-washer, but wasn't very good about washing the quilt right away. I will start doing that. thanks!

  2. Great post. I don't pre wash fabrics but washing the quilt when it is finished is a great idea, and it looks nice too!

  3. So interesting. I don't always prewash...but have tried to for quilting purposes. Thanks for this blog post! =)

  4. I really appreciate this post. I have often wondered about washing. I don't wash because when I first started quilting I did and ended up with a mess. I like how stiff and easy my fat quarters are for cutting, but it has always been on my mind. thank you for the tip to wash hands after handling the fabric. You have put my mind at ease!

    Thank you very much!

    Ann Flowers

  5. I don't wash my fabric either. I sometimes worry about it with all the chemicals, but don't keep a big stash. Thanks for the info and the link to Leanne's giveaway!

  6. Such interesting info. I make garments for my kids and dont always prewash. shame on me. thanks for the info. cant wait to start my first quilt soon!

  7. I started out always pre washing but now I let the project determine if I do. What about linen? I have heard it's important to pre wash on hot.

  8. Thanks for some good tips! When I first started learning to quilt I made a quilt for my son with some solid colors and made sure to prewash the fabric. The colors included a dark red and also a cream color. So I definitely wanted to be careful about colors bleeding. Then to finish the quilt I bought some dark red double fold binding tape and sewed it on. After the first wash the cream squares where no longer cream but pink! I guess it came from the binding?? I now make all my binding!

  9. I used to wash, but I always zigzagged the cut side first, and also had to iron afterward, so now I do not wash at all. Only after it is finished. You can throw a color catcher in the wash. As for shrinking I like the slight puckered look anyhow.

  10. Great post! I take it case by case but never wash precuts. If I'm making clothes then I try to prewash but sometimes I'm in too much of a hurry. If I'm using dark colors then I like to prewash. If I'm making something like a purse or other item I don't really plan on washing I won't prewash so I can keep the fabric stiff and the colors sharp.

  11. I really enjoyed today's topic. Thank you

  12. Thanks for this. I'm a washer so it is good to learn the ins and outs of when it is really necessary.

  13. Thanks for sharing. I wash everything... except precuts...

  14. Some very interesting information there; thanks Rebecca for inviting Leanne to be your guest.

  15. Very insightful. Thanks Leanne!

  16. Rebecca, thanks for introducing me to Leanne! I am now following both of your blogs!

  17. Thank you for all this good information!

  18. MMMM very interesting, I hate washing fabric, especially because we are on tank water!!!

  19. Thank you. I always wash my fabrics, to get rid of the chemicals and dust and dirt (handling, sitting in the shop, etc. make it dirty). Also, the washing and ironing lets me handle and spend time with the fabric, I learn how it responds to use, I really look at its pattern and colours while I iron it and refold it. The fraying is no big deal, you cut off that edge before you cut your pieces.

  20. Thanks for the information on to wash or don't wash. I usually don't wash my fabric first but I know now that I should as I have COPD a lung disease and it could be causing me some extra problems by not washing it. But I still like the crispness look of the fabric of not washing it. Huummmmm!!! What do I do?

  21. Thank you for all your advice. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing when I should wash or not. I just might be a quilter after all.


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