Monday, June 25, 2012

Pre-Washing Quilt Fabric

I always pre-wash my quilt fabric. Here is my rationale- if my fabric is going to run, shrink or otherwise misbehave, I want it to do all that before it has been sewn into my quilt. I don't want that sort of surprise.

Some quilters advocate the use of obscure special detergents or soaps and extra special fabric handling. I do not. When I get new fabric, I have no qualms about sorting by colour and throwing it in right along with my regular laundry- both washer and dryer. These are sturdy new quilting cottons, not precious antique fibres. I always wash in cold water with a cold water rinse, except for towels and sheets.

The only drawback is the tangle of fibres that will come loose through agitation and contact with the other contents of the washer and dryer. I have been just cutting or ripping off the tangles, shaking out the fabric and throwing it in the dryer.

However, I have a new method that gives me multi-faceted Win. I'm trying just a quick cold water hand wash in a plastic tub with a squirt of Soak Wash. One thing (among others) I like about Soak is that it is a no-rinse product. I do rinse, but I feel like it's not important to make sure that every speck of soap is totally rinsed out.

What I'm trying to do with a pre-wash are three things. First, get the fabric wet so I can dry it in the dryer, which will provide shrink-action if it's going to happen. Second, I'm also getting rid of the chemical sizing used in the manufacturing process, along with any cooties accumulated during the packaging and shipping process. Third, I'm checking for excessive dye bleeding.

So, I just give the fabric a swish in the Soak-y water for a minute or two and squeeze out the extra water. Then I give it another swish in clear water to mostly rinse out the soap. I wring it out- no kid gloves here!

I give it a shake and a sharp snap and throw it into the dryer with a waiting wet laundry load of the same colour.

This is a Multi-Win because-
  1. I've saved time, water and power with a quick hand wash.
  2. If colour has run badly,  I can see it right there in the water and can decide what to do, which might be chucking it out.
  3. The fabric is significantly less thready and tangly.
  4. I still get the heat-shrinkage by piggy-backing my quilt fabrics with a load of laundry I'm already drying.
Plus, my fabric is stash-ready that much faster, and that is the best Win of all.

1 comment:

Suzanna said...

Wow! That completely solves the problem of loose threads from raw edges making a tangled mess of your entire load AND you get to see if the dyes in your new fabric are going to run. Genius!

Also, you used the word "cooties" in your post, and that makes me downright jealous.