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Should I prewash my fabric?

Posted: 5 November 2015 at 6 a.m.

Should I prewash my fabric?

Do you still spend time prewashing your fabrics? 

Those prewash days are over.  Quality fabric has such small shrinkage there is no need to prewash.  If fabric companies wanted us to prewash, they wouldn’t be cutting them into 5” squares, 2.5” strips, and all the precuts they do because they are impossible to wash.  Can you imagine trying to wash those pieces, and iron them?  Whew what a mess!

Sometimes we meet people that still prewash their fabrics.  If you’re using high-quality cotton fabrics, you don’t need to.  Your mother or grandmother may have taught you to prewash all fabric.  Our grandmas were using flour sacks to make quilts, yes, they needed to wash their fabrics.  We live in luxurious modern times so forget prewashing and get straight to stitching!

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  • 5. Cheryl (26 January 2016 at 4:18 p.m.)

    I still preach dark colors even tho I use only quality fabrics. Reds especially still bleed so I would rather preach than have a quilt ruined. I also use color catchers with my material.
  • 4. Peggy (06 November 2015 at 7:28 a.m.)

    I don't bother with pre-washing UNLESS it's batik. Especially red. I have made quilts with a mix of both traditional fabrics and batiks and neither have been pre-washed, but I give a big box of color catchers away with each quilt along with instructions to wash the quilt by itself in cold water and to use 4 or 5 sheets with each washing until the color catcher sheets come out without any residual color on them. It takes about 4 washings.
  • 3. Shelley Gardner (05 November 2015 at 7:04 p.m.)

    I prewash for two reasons: my allergies, and to control bleed for the darker fabrics. Well, three- sometimes there is significant shrinkage, so I pretest every fabric. The one time I did an applique, if I hadn't prewashed the backing, it would have caused significant distortion for the final quilt. Over 18 inches, it shrunk a full inch and a half. I always test, just to be sure!
  • 2. Valerie (05 November 2015 at 12:59 p.m.)

    I still prewash my fabrics because I want to get the sizing out. This is especially important if fusible applique is the plan, because the sizing can prevent the fusible from adhering as well as it could. I also prefer the way washed fabric feels. And like Vicki said, some fabrics do bleed... I'd rather prewash and press than risk the quilt being ruined the first time it's washed.
  • 1. Vicki W (05 November 2015 at 7:44 a.m.)

    Modern fabrics, including high end fabrics, still bleed. They do not all bleed but you don't know until the quilt is done. I am a fabric dyer and wanted the fabrics I sell to be colorfast so I've done extensive testing with different soaps and processed on hand dyed and commercial fabrics. All fabric should be PRESOAKED, not preached if you want to avoid bleeding. I wrote about this in the Quilt Life and have the details of my testing here

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