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Update: Prewash or Not?

What's Your Style

My series What’s Your Style explores topics related to sewing and quilting. This is my fourteenth edition. On December 17, 2017, I published a post called Wash or Not?  In the article I shared that I didn’t pre-wash my fabrics for these reasons:

  1. I disliked the fact that the fabrics got all wrinkled and
  2. I wasn’t fond of the threads that unraveled and twisted the fabrics together.

After reading the responses to my question I went on a mission to learn even more. Through that research I found a wealth of opinions and techniques. One lady was frustrated with her struggles to achieve a properly sized finished block. To explore the possible reasons she did a detailed experiment. During the discovery process she learned that the heat from her iron was shrinking her fabrics. I had personal experience with the same situation during my 100 Modern Quilt Block challenge.

Pre-Wash or Not?
Oh the Tangles!

After reading the articles I decided to change my philosophy. I now pre-wash all of my fabrics and have resigned myself to dealing with the labor intensive process. Hopefully this will head off future potential issues with fabric bleeding, block shrinkage, etc.

Now I sort all of my fabrics by color. Anything other than hand-dyed and batiks are washed in warm water and dried in a hot dryer. If I’m concerned about bleeding I toss in a color catcher. Some of the hand dyed fabrics I wash individually with Dawn in a bucket of super hot tap water. The process is repeated until the water comes out clear. Next I rinse them in clean water to remove any remaining soap residue. The fabrics are then gently squeezed and spread on top of cotton towels to absorb excess moisture. Once the fabrics are damp to the touch I either draped them over a hanger or tossed them into a dryer to finish the drying process.

If I remove the fabric from the dryer right away I can avoid excessive wrinkling. After removing them from the dryer I sometimes iron them, fold and stash them away. Then other times I skip the ironing (depends on the condition of the fabric when it comes out of the dryer and/or my mood).

I must admit that I’m much happier now with my pre-washed fabrics because they are softer to the touch and seem to be much easier to work with. They are also less apt to bleed colors and experience excessive shrinkage.

So there’s my update! Any thoughts?

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