Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Prewash or Not

Is it personal preference to prewash fabric prior to use in a project, or is it necessary?

This question has been a topic of discussion and debate forever.  From what I've read, the answer is more personal preference.  More times than not I read so many answers informing us that quality fabrics purchased at quality quilt shops will not have a problem with fabric dyes bleeding when laundered.  If you choose to believe that, well, that is your choice.


This is a quality cut of fabric purchased at a long established quality quilt shop.  It's also the reason why I always prewash my fabrics.


I had already drained the basin a couple of times before I thought to take a photograph.  I have serious doubts that color catcher sheets would be able to save all my hard work in a project from this piece of gorgeous red fabric.  It took me half a day and over night until the dye stopped bleeding.  (Dark blues can be as much a problem as reds can be.)

It doesn't happen to every red fabric but how are you going to know when it will bleed and when it won't.  There's only two ways to find out...the hard way (washing your already completed project) or by prewashing.

I just don't think the risk is worth not prewashing fabric. So, for me, I see prewashing as necessary.

I'm off to wash some more new fabric pieces.
Happy stitching to you!
Annie


13 comments:

Nic said...

I always prewash. But for me it's less about bleeding and more about shrinking. I was taught that you can't be certain your fabric will shrink by the same amount in both width and length. This is particularly a problem with calico, but I prefer to be cautious and so apply this to all fabric that I buy.

That's beautiful fabric by the way. What are you planning to use it for?

Suzan said...

Whenever I purchase a "questionable" red I cut a snippet and put it in water. If it bleeds, I wash the piece. However, I generally only buy Moda reds and I have only ever had one surprise me by bleeding onto the white lattice strips in a baby quilt. I put it back in the washer with 2 color catchers and they cleaned the red back out of the white. I am a little nervous about a red and white quilt I made from blocks in a red&white charm square exchange. I think that will go in the washer with an old towel and about 6 color catchers!

Dannelle said...

Pre-washing is safer on both counts, bleeding and shrinkage, but the fabric sure isn't fun to work with when it is limp!

Michele said...

I typicall prewash to be safe and thanfully haven't had any problems but I do like the idea of snipping a corner and testing it first. Will have to remember that one for next time.

beaquilter said...

I always prewash, the only times I don't are charms and jelly rolls, and I've done a few one block wonder fabrics, and they say to NOT do it either...I wash with my own clothes, without fabric softener though.
I usually snip my corners too

Debbie said...

You can also add some table salt to the wash when washing to help set the color. But pre-wash is important and color catcher is always used in my house.

Aliceart said...

Wow. That's scary.

Mrs.Pickles said...

Good information. thanks for sharing :)

Marilee said...

I totally agree. Thanks for taking the pictures. Another culprit is black. I've prewashed black and white with mostly white and had the black design bleed right on the white. I've also had yellow bleed out of green. Can you really tell if it's going to bleed from a "snippet"?

Pamela Nees said...

You are right, Annie-to pre-wash is essential. I've had some fabrics bleed horribly! And the color catcher is a great invention (my son discovered it all by himself when he was in college-lol) but sometimes can't catch it all!! Good call! (And that's some great fabric-what are you going to create with it?)

Pat V. said...

I prewash for both color-fastness and shrinkage; also I am highly allergic to the formaldehyde used in some fabrics and need to remove. I use color catchers, but when I find fabrics that really bleed I'll add Retayne (to set color) or Synthropol (to remove excess dye).

Ramona said...

I'm a pre-washer too and love those color catcher (which have ALWAYS picked up some color with any new fabric I have purchased and washed!) I have also had some pieces of fabric pick up some excess dye even with the color catchers in there, which means I don't use those or have to cut around the ruined parts. I agree that pre-washing is very much about the shrinkage, which is why I think pattern companies should not give directions for 44" wide quilt fabric. It is generally not that wide even before washing, but definately not after washing. Those pre-cuts do pose a problem in terms of prewashing but are the cheapest way to get an entire fabric line without the huge investment of a full fat quarter pack. Strips and squares are the easiest things to cut though and you don't have the issue of the pinked edges if you cut your own fabric. I did wash my first couple of packs of charm squares and YES, they did shrink. I tend to do hand applique, so I would absolutley die (or dye!) if my finished work bled, so I will continue to be a pre-washer and then use lots of spray starch prior to sewing!

Susan said...

Yikes!! One more thing for a 'newbie' to remember! I have so much to learn! Thank you for sharing though as red is one of my very favorite colors!