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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Wash or Not to Wash

The debate for quiltmakers goes on and on. Should I wash my fabrics before I make the quilt top or not. Everyone has their own reasons for which ever side they are on but for myself, I have gone back and forth and am now back once again! LOL
When I first began making pieced quilts back in 1989 I was told you really need to wash that fabric so that there would be no accidental bleeding of dyes onto my quilt when it was washed later. Also there is the shrinkage issue...will the fabrics shrink differently or not at all? So, I washed.
Then after a few years I found that many a great quiltmaker DIDN'T wash the fabric...after all the fabric is so nice when it comes off the bolt and now-a-days the bleeding issue is very rare and according to Harriet Hargraves, a known expert on fabric, it's not the bleeding that is the issue it's if the other fabrics in the quilt will retain the excess dye or not. So, I stopped washing the fabrics and enjoyed the brand new feeling and look of the fabrics. Sigh...
Well, my Inklingo group has been having a discussion on why it is good to wash that fabric right when you purchase it. Some of the factors have to do with the old shrinkage issue. Also once the fabric is washed any stretching out of shape that comes from the printing and rolling onto the big rolls at the factories will relax to normal. And last of all if you use Inklingo you need to wash before printing the fabric. So...I am back to washing again. I have a ton of fabrics on my shelves that has to go through my washer not to mention the fat quarters in boxes. So far I have done the neutral backgrounds, greens and most of the blues and have started on the blacks. I haven't had too much trouble with the fabrics raveling out too badly (crossing my fingers) and I am using the hand wash setting on my washing machine to keep it from getting too ravelly. My biggest problem is that even with cotton fabrics I am still getting some static as a part of living in a "high desert" environment.
It has been suggested that I don't worry about ironing the fabric until I am ready to use it which if fine with me! LOL
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