I had posed a Quilty This or That question about pre-washing or not here, and received overwhelming responses. THANKS so much, ladies! I love reading your responses — because it makes me feel like I am not “talking to myself” all the time. :o)
Dear friend Vicki Welsh wrote and offered to share her experience and thoughts on the issue at hand. Vicki is a trusted and dear friend of mine. I consider her a very talented quilter, and beyond — you simply have to head on to her blog and find out about the “beyond” part. Vicki is amazingly skilled in many other artsy pursuits. I know I can always count on her for advice!
[image source: http://vickiwelsh.typepad.com]
So, I hope you will enjoy what Vicki has to share about pre-washing… and actually soaking your fabrics! Vicki’s generosity to share her experience is just another example of the sweet kindness we show toward one another in the quilting community! THANK YOU, Vicki.
To Pre-was or not to pre-wash……Neither!
An argument for pre-soaking instead.
A couple of weeks ago Wendy polled her readers about whether or not we pre-wash our fabric. I’m visiting here with you today to show you why it doesn’t really matter if you pre-wash or not. If you really want to get the excess dye out of your fabric you really need to pre-soak.
I mean really soak…..for hours!
I know, you are skeptical. But stick with me a bit and I’ll explain. Even if you don’t agree with pre-soaking your fabric, at the end you will at least know how to deal with a bleeding quilt.
I’m a fabric dyer and I don’t want to sell fabric that bleeds to my quilting customers. Hand dyed fabric has a well-deserved reputation for bleeding and I set out to make mine colorfast. Through lots of experimenting I discovered that soaking the fabric for long periods made the difference. Washing just isn’t enough.
Here’s the proof. I soaked some dyed fabric for 12 hours. At 15 minutes, 3 hours and 12 hours I took water samples. I poured the water samples on paper towels and allowed them to dry. The 15 minutes soak shows how much dye would be released in a typical wash cycle. I think this shows clearly that 15 minutes just isn’t enough.
Not long after this I bought a collection of commercial fabrics. I washed them once with a color catcher and the color catcher came out clean. As a test I put the fabric back in the wash and soaked them over night with a color catcher. The next morning the color catcher and water were dark brown!
That explained why one quilt of mine bled years after I made it. At some point all of that excess dye will eventually release. You can read the entire post about my soaking tests here.
Since that original testing a customer had a quilt bleed (using hand dyed and commercial prints) and around the same time I had a quilt bleed (hand dyed and commercial prints). That gave me the incentive to test the process further, including testing different detergents. You can read all of the details here.
The key points are:
- Soaking is critical (8 – 12 hours)
- Multiple soaks may be necessary
- Dawn Pure Essentials Dish Detergent is the best soap to use (avoid detergent with scents and additives)
- The hotter the water the better
- Make sure the entire quilt/fabric is under water
I’ve written a summary of the process to remove excess dye from a bleeding quilt and you can print or download it here. You may share the link on your own blog/Facebook page/Pinterest/whatever and you may reprint the article in your guild newsletter as long as it’s reprinted in full and completely attributed to me as the author. I’m a bit evangelical about this and want to get the word out!
If you’ve made it this far in the post I think you deserve a reward! If you’ve ever wanted to try hand dyed fabric but have been afraid to use it I want to give you some incentive to try my colorfast hand dyed fabric. All of Wendy’s loyal readers can use coupon code WENDY15 for 15% off your order. The coupon is good through October 15. My favorite fabrics are the ones I created based on the Munsell color wheel and they are always on sale!
Here’s where you can find me:
Good friends don’t let friends piece without properly preparing their fabrics! Vicki, you are a good friend – thank you again for that very educational post. Friends, don’t forget to head on over to Vicki’s blog or shop after you leave here… Thanks for stopping by today. Hugs to you all.