Monday, August 22, 2016

The age old question - wash or no wash?

It's the dreaded question we ask ourselves all the time. Should I wash my beautiful new fabric before putting it into a quilt. It's also a question that stirs up quite a controversy. There are those who see only the white (die hard washers) and those that see only the black (die hard non-washers), and then you have the hybrid folks that see grey (depends on the project, the fabric, the color of fabric, and/or how they feel at the time). I must admit to being a Sybil and having multiple personalities on the grey.

I first learned that everything had to be washed so that is what I did. Then I learned that there were advantages to not washing my fabric such as crispness and ease of cutting and I became a non-washer. And then I learned that there are consequences to not washing such as bleeding. Some bleeding occurs even on fabrics that I had pre-washed and thought safe. If you love to buy precuts , you quickly learn that washing those small bits of fabric can leave you with not the right size for your project.

And then there are those folks who MIX pre-washed and non-washed fabrics together in the same project.  GASP!!!  And, yes, I have fallen into that group as well on occasion. I know...I know there is that worry of some shrinking (non washed fabrics) and some not shrinking (pre-washed fabrics) when you do that and you know can use that to your advantage. You just need to know when to use it and again, know that there can be consequences.

So what is a person to do with so many differing views and opinions? Well, unfortunately, I do not have 'the answer.' There is no one, absolute answer. What I can tell you is that you get to decide your threshold of pain/discomfort. If you do not want to worry about bleeding, then pre-wash your fabrics before using them. However, remember I did mention that I have had fabrics bleed that were pre-washed. It happens and I cannot tell you why other than to make me make awful faces and mumbling noises that should not be repeated. Most of the time those type of bleeds are fixable.

I knew this fabric was going to bled. It just had all of my favorite colors all mixed into one. It bled a lot but it stopped after soaking in hot water with Retayne in it and three rinses later.
This fabric was a lightly mottled brown/cream fabric that bled orange. Strange for sure, but it, too, stopped after the washing and rinsing.
So, I'm throwing the question back into your court. Do you wash or not and why?

All of the fabrics you see above are for my September souvenir that becomes available on September 1. Only those who have signed up will receive their souvenirs so don't delay and sign up here.


  1. I wash everything. And I have done it since I first starting quilting. Besides the risk of bleeding there are projects that I like to hand quilt and there must be some chemical or something used during processing of the fabric and just dries my hands out terribly.

    Since I like scrap quilting I have pieces of fabric that I use in both machine quilted and hand quilted projects. . . . so it is just easier for me to wash it first.

    I have also become very, very fond of color catcher sheets for both pre-washing and post-washing of fabrics and/or projects.

  2. I started out washing everything. Then, I was told that the "quality" fabric we buy are safe. . .unless it is a dark fabric or red and just starch the fabric before you cut it as that will preshrink it. So I tried a few projects that way and of course some bled! I'm also completing a project that I'm sure has fabrics that weren't prewashed. . .but, I don't plan to wash it!. . . I'm back to prewashing and testing the fabrics after to be sure they really are through bleeding and running amok with their colors!!! I like to use color catcher sheets for the same reasons as Sherry!


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