Do you prewash?

There’s a continual debate between quilters on whether fabric should be prewashed or not. Do you prewash? I do. Always. It’s probably a hold-over from when I was a garment seamstress and I wanted the fabric to shrink as much as possible before I make a closely-fitted garment. I also like the softened feel of washed fabric, wrinkles and all. Plus, I prefer to remove any scents, smells, and any chemicals that might be in the fabric when I bring it home from the store.

Despite my best efforts, occassionally there’s a fabric that still bleeds even after prewashing. Guess what? I found one. Remember how the blue background fabric bled into the water when I dissolved the Paper Solvy? When I saw that, I diligently washed the quilt top until all the excess dye was released into the rinse water. Once the water was consistently clear, I hung up the quilt top, blue side at the bottom, and went to bed.

See what I noticed when I sat down to work on my quilt today? Despite removing as much excess dye as I could, the blue dye still migrated onto the neighboring yellow fabrics! I promptly put it back in a sink full of cold water along with some synthropol and started scrubbing at it with a small brush. Why is it that the same dye that wouldn’t stay put in Fabric #1 all of a sudden decides it will take up permanent residence in Fabric #2?

Here it is after treatment. I suppose I was able get out a little of the dye, but now it looks like one more opportunity at problem solving πŸ™‚

Part of this quilt challenge is that there must be at least one 3-dimensional embellishment? Do you think paint counts?

You may have noticed the addition of prairie points between the second and third rings. They were supposed to be my 3-dimensional embellishment. Not sure if they would count, either…

Oh well, on with life. This quilt is too small to bother worrying about minor setbacks. This is my chance to fearlessly do new and exciting things I haven’t tried yet. One thing to remember about risk-taking is that sometimes it doesn’t quite work out like you originally thought it might.

14 Responses

  1. BJ

    I’m so glad you were finally able to get all the blue out. What a job that was! Amazing. I do like the addition of the prairie points and I think they should count as your 3D. It’s looking beautiful.

    • Maria

      Not quite all of the blue is gone, but I couldn’t get any more out so I decided to accept it for what it was πŸ™‚

  2. Ann Wiseman

    The blue doesn’t show in the picture… (Only let people look at photos of this quilt??) : ) And I agree; the prairie points DO count as 3D as they have a part of them that sticks out. Yep. Paint? Not so much.

    • Maria

      LOL! Proof that after even all of these years of sewing and quilting, I make plenty of mistakes — er, opportunities for problem solving πŸ™‚

  3. MariΓ© du Toit

    Well after 30 years of quiltmaking and several blue ribbons- I got a poor and very poor for my workmanship from the judges this year- I admire the faultless quilts! It seems I still have a lot to learn!

    • Maria

      I think the idea of a faultless quilt is really a myth. I remember one quilt that was awarded “masterpiece” status, meaning it was as near to perfect as you can get, and it only got a third place ribbon at a different show. So, it really is subjective. Besides, would you really want to get to the place where there was nothing left to learn? I wouldn’t! Of course, I’m usually not too thrilled when I make the mistakes, either πŸ™‚

  4. Deana Lasher

    I always prewash fabric mostly due to allergies, but I usually use very hot water and Tide. I figure I’ll do my worst to it and see what happens. If it’s going to bleed or run, better to do it before I do any work on the project. I absolutely believe your prairie points are 3D. I don’t see much blue bleed over in the photo. Maybe you could minimize the spot even further when you quilt over it. Or draw attention away from it somehow.

    • Maria

      I decided to just procede and quilt as if no bleeding occurred. This quilt is not one to obsess over.

  5. Nina-Marie

    I only prewash if I know the piece is going to be washed after. I giggled over paint being a 3 d embellishment – I mean you could use puffy paint (grin)! So fun watching this piece progress!!!

  6. Lynette

    OK, so I just washed a BUNCH of kit pieces for my deJonge quilt, and LET ME TELL YOU: when folks see what that water was like in the sink, they will think again about not prewashing!

    I rinsed and I rinsed and I rinsed, but having seen your post, and seeing that water, I came back to find the name of the product you used (the synthropol), because I want to have some on hand just in case!

    • Maria

      Yes, synthropol is terrific. Dharma Trading, which is where I buy it, says, “Synthrapol as the afterwash keeps loose dye particles of dye in suspension so they don’t stain other areas of the fabric.” You can find it here:

      It was past 11:30 pm and I was tired when I decided to dissolve the Paper Solvy. I did not use synthropol. Pooh! A little voice was telling me to, but I was too tired to listen. I thought it would be okay when the rinse water was clear. I wasn’t thinking about dye migration. I also didn’t use hot water like the directions recommend. Like I said, I just wanted to go to bed. I thought I’d be able to quickly wash out the dissolvable stuff and hang it up and it would be ready for me to get back to work in the morning. Ah, well! Live and learn.