Thursday, March 14, 2013

Are there no pre-washers left in Blogland?

So far the comments tell me no one pre-washes their fabrics any more.  Interesting.

Are none of you bothered by all the chemicals in your fabrics?  Formaldehyde is used in making fabrics, and I can sometimes smell the reek of chemicals on my not-yet-washed fabrics.  When I worked in a fabric store it took me 2-3 weeks before the smell didn't set off an allergic reaction. 

Fabrics aren't that clean when we buy them either.  They are sent to the US in huge cargo containers.  They are shrink wrapped, but many times there is a tear in the wrap before they get to the fabric store.  Cargo containers aren't all that clean.

Different cottons shrink at different rates.  I mix many plaids and homespuns with my prints when making a quilt top.  I've found that homespuns shrink differently than prints - often more. 

I find hand quilting unwashed fabric to be harder on my hands than quilting washed fabric.  Many of my quilts are machine quilted, but I like to hand quilt the little ones and utility quilt the primitive tops.

So I presume all of you who don't wash first to be non-allergic quilters who machine quilt (or pay a longarmer) and never use homespuns.  Is that correct?

I'd love to hear from more of you - especially those who still pre-wash their fabrics.

18 comments:

BetsyE said...

I'm all about pre-washing! I even go so far as to wash all the scraps I get from my friends in a lingerie bag... obsessive maybe, but I've had too many things bleed. I've also noticed that a 5" square of fabric shrinks almost none one direction, but about 1/4" the other way. I just consider the washing and ironing getting to know my fabrics!

McIrish Annie said...

your point with regard to homespun is well taken, though I don't tend to use that much anymore. I have never had an allergic reaction and I always machine quilt. I think if I was not working I might do that because as Betsy said, you get to know your fabric. I guess with time constraints, I just don't have time for "foreplay" with my fabric. ;)

sophie said...

I'm a pre-washer, too. I think it only takes one bleeding fabric in a finished quilt or something that shrinks A LOT for anyone to see the value in taking the time to wash fabrics. I am sensitive to the chemicals used to preserve/finish fabrics, so there's never any question for me.

Carol said...

Oh yes, I prewash most of my fabrics and for exactly all the reasons you mention. Would never use a predominantly red fabric without washing. And homespuns without a doubt. Recently made 2 homespun tops and they were using prewashed fabrics and the backs as well. And also would never hand quilt a quilt if the fabric wasn't prewashed. So much easier on the hands. I am busy with 3 grandchildren and didnt have time to comment yesterday. All are busy at the moment. ;)

Carol said...

One more thought---I heard a teacher say if anything was going to happen to the fabric, she wanted it to happen BEFORE it was sewn into a quilt. Good thinking.

Joanne said...

I definitely wash any yardage or bigger than fat quarter fabric. Lately I've been buying fat quarters, and I need to either use them right away or put them aside until I have enough for a load or two to wash. I mostly just fold the washed fabric and put away and then iron it when I actually take it out to use.

Vicki said...

You are right-have never used a home spun. The advice I was given when I started quilting a couple of years ago (from 2 different fabric stores and several teachers), was no longer any need to pre-wash. Interesting.

betweens said...

Patti I don`t prewash but keep my fabric in closed cupboards they are in a hall away from my sewing area. I will wash after my work is done on the quilt.
I love that the fabric does not crease as much I find when I wash that folded crease does not come out as easy. Some will say use the spray starch or the other quilts stuff is it not the same as just breathing all the chemicals in when starching you are breathing fresh chemicals in.
Hand applique I will swish the fabric in the water with a light wash to relax the fabric for better pliability but for piecing I like the manufactured starch in the fabrics. i had started now washing when I pieced my first stack and whack/one block wonder and then I didn`t wash anymore just in case I used a technique that required no washing I could use that fabric, if I needed to wash it I had the choice.

anorthowife said...

I pre wash any fabrics I'm using for clothing, deep reds, and dark solids. But other than that I purposely DON'T pre wash because of the different shrink rates. I tend to use an all over FMQ so I get a really "wavy" and crumpled look to my quilts and the slightly different shrink rates add to this effect.

With clothing I can't risk unknown shrinkage so I'm very diligent about it.

Kathie said...

ok this is a hot topic amongst many people!
I used to prewash everything then I started not washing just due to the volume of fabric I was buying and the amt of quilts I was sewing. I also found probably for the last year of washing fabrics a few years ago I never had any color running in the wash...
I am on the fence about it now , I worry about the shrinkage once I saw the post by Betsy from Piece of cake blog fame but in reality when the quilt is done and sewn it will shrink evenly I bet. no way am I going to rewash all my fabric in my closets and to try and figure out which ones are washed and not.
I think if I am going to do a hand applique quilt I probably will wash background fabrics and fabrics if I was worried. will come back and read the responses in a few days.
will be interesting to see the comments
Kathie

Caron at Michigan Quilts said...

Can't you see me jumping up and down in Mid-Michigan, waving my arms frantically in the air? I prewash EVERYTHING before it goes into my stack O'stash. Nothing goes through the doors of my sewing room until it is washed.

swooze said...

Prewasher here.....

claggle said...

I wash all loose woven fabric. I pin a label with where it came from and if its washed.... I figure fabric from the same 'stable' will have the same finish, shrink or not shrink at the same rate. BUT mixing various maufacturers means that I WASH a lot. Yes, I use laundry bags too.
Carolanne in UK - I like your very busy blog!

Jeanne said...

I pre-wash most of my new fabrics. The exceptions would be kits with little pieces or pre-cuts like charm packs.

sewkalico said...

I pre-wash some especially reds. Had a quilt recently where the reds ran and I was certain I'd prewashed them :(
But generally I wash after, once it's all quilted and bound.

Libby said...

I use homespuns/brushed cottons all of the time. I NEVER pre-wash (one minor exception recently when I used many reds in a quilt that is destined to be a gift) I don't use a paid long arm quilter - I do my own quilting. Every one of my quilts is washed almost as soon as the last binding stitch is taken so the chemicals and shipping dirt along with any accumulated dirt from being drug around by me while I worked on the quilt are all removed. *knock on wood* I haven't had any problems with bleeding or weird shrinking. That's what happens in my corner of the quilting world *s*

tirane93 said...

i've seen too many other people's quilts ruined in the first wash to be anything but a prewasher.

Quilts And Pieces said...

I am a ore washer big time. I've even been seen per washing charm squares.