Ok! You have just got home from the Quilt Shop with some beautiful
fabrics and you are keen to cut them up and create something amazing.
Well before you rush into your project consider 'pre-washing' them,
and for good reason!
Pre-washing all new fabric before using them in a Quilt ensures that there
will be no uneven shrinkage and no transfer of colours when the beautiful
Quilt you make is laundered. Oh yes, how sad it would be to see one 'red'
square 'bleed red' into your lovely 'white' squares. All that time and effort
and it's destroyed. I really do not want anyone to make this mistake! At the end of the day to wash or not to wash your fabrics before you used them is really a personal preference amongst quilters. Personally, I wash most fabrics as a rule and I definitely wash my 'dark' fabrics.
How to wash your fabric?
If you have a few fabrics to wash unfold them and seperate them into piles e;g white, yellows, reds, oranges, light-blues, greens, dark blues and so on.
I wash 'light' fabrics in luke warm water with a small amount of phosphate free detergent. I like to use 'wool-wash' as it is a gentle detergent. If you have a large amount of fabric to wash you can wash them in the washing machine on a gentle wash. Or, wash them by hand in a bucket of luke warm water. Agitate the fabric with your hands, then rinse them in cold water. You can 'spin' them in the washing machine to get excess water out.
Not so fun! Sadly some fabrics are more prone to 'bleeding' (the colour runs) then other e.g. reds, blacks, navy, purples, browns. If you have a good quality Quilting Fabric 100% Cotton, they are less likely to 'bleed' however some still do. So regardless - wash it!
You will need to seperate dark coloured fabric individually, e.g. reds, blacks, dark greens. Add a little wool-wash in a bucket of cold water, agitate the fabric with your hands and leave for a good 10 minutes. When the time is up go back, tip out your water and fill the bucket again, leave for another 10 minutes.
When you go back the second time before you rinse out the water, grab a sample of the water in a glass and hold it up to the light. Look through the glass- if the water looks 'clearish' tip the water out of the bucket and spin your fabric in the washing machine to get rid of excess water. If the water is 'unclear' (it still holds quite a bit of the colour), you will need continue the washing and checking the colour of the water. Worst case, the colour still 'bleeds' from the fabric after several soaks just don't use it. I know it sounds harsh but you cannot afford to destroy all your hard work.
To Tumble Dry? or Not to Tumble Dry?- Tumble fabrics almost dry, then remove them from the dryer and press with an iron.
Should not be machine washed and tumble dried! If there are 'darker' fabrics in amongst the 'Charm Pack' or 'Layer Cake' and you are worried about the colours 'bleeding', carefully soak them in some cold water and repeat until the water runs clear. Try not to overhandle the small pieces of fabric. Place the patches on a towel or white paper towl to dry. Press with an iron.