When it comes to starting a new quilt, everyone has their own particular way of doing things. For instance, there are those who prefer to prewash their quilting fabrics and there are those who prefer to just leave them how they are. While there really isn’t a right or wrong answer, it’s important for quilting beginners to understand that the choice they make can have a great effect on the type of quilt they end up with.
That being said, we thought we might touch on one side of the spectrum and discuss why it might be a good idea to prewash your fabrics instead of waiting until you’ve finished the quilt completely.
Color Bleeding – Anyone who’s ever done a load of laundry will tell you that there are certain colors, such as red, that will bleed in the washing machine. If you wait until you’ve finished the quilt to wash it and it features patches of red or another vivid color, you risk discoloring the entire piece as the dye bleeds onto the other patches. It can be very upsetting to finally finish a beautiful quilt only to have it completely ruined after 45 minutes in the wash. You’ll never get that time back.
Cotton Shrinks – One of the most popular fabrics for quilting is cotton, and it can pretty tricky to work with. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that while it’s being made, the cotton fibers are stretched on a loom into an unnaturally straight position and coated to keep them taut. If you choose not to wash until after your quilt is finished, that coating will disintegrate, causing the fibers to relax and attempt to return to their natural position. Because cotton shrinks differently, you may be left with uneven blocks and puckered fabric after your first wash.
Remove Chemicals – As we’ve mentioned, quilting fabrics are often coated with chemicals not only for sizing, but as a protectant as well, and to give them a crispness that makes rotary cutting easier. This can be a problem for those with sensitive skin, making prewashing fabrics extremely important. If you’re still in need of a little more crispness for cutting, try looking for a stiffer fabric or using a spray starch that’s not harsh on the skin.
Of course, these are only a few reasons why you may want to consider prewashing, but remember that there really is no right or wrong way of doing things. It all comes down to your quilting preferences.
Have any of your own pros for prewashing? The Fabric Stasher wants to hear them! Share them with us in the comment section below!