Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fabric ~To Wash or Not to Wash ~ My 2 Cents

And the answer is...up to YOU. Washing or not washing fabric before using it is a personal preference. Some like to cut the fabric while it still has a bit of stiffness... I personally like to wash it for a softer feel and to get all the chemicals off, especially if I am sewing for a baby. I like to wash and dry it and get the shrinkage down, as fabrics do not shrink equally. I don't wash my batting, so I know that in the end, the quilt or project will still shrink a bit when washed. That's my usual MO, but I DO occasionally break from this way of thinking. If it's a Christmas ornament or something that will only be out seasonal, and thus won't be washed much, I may bend my wash rule.

I DO, however have a smart tip of advice for you...when you have a very dark fabric, especially reds or any really deep color, I suggest you at least do a colorfast test. Trust me, it doesn't matter where you bought it or how much you paid for it. Every now and then a color will run. Case in point. I was making a queen size quilt a few years ago and following this rule. I had picked a white background on my blocks and was testing all fabrics that were really dark before I washed them. I had a beautiful deep rose fabric similar to the one below and the minute it hit my sink basin it exploded in color. It came from a very reputable quilt shop and a very reputable fabric manufacturer. I rinsed it several times and got it to run clear and it looks very pretty in my quilt. Can you imagine if I had not given it the bleed test? Do you KNOW how much work goes into a queen size quilt? I shudder at the thought.

It only takes a few minutes to get a basin half filled with some lukewarm water to do this test. Example below. As you can see this one passed!

Another tip! I use these Shout Color Catcher Sheets when I wash a load of new fabrics. Just throw one in the wash and it helps to pick up some of the "loose dyes" you may have from your fabrics.

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