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To Pre-Wash or Not To Pre-Wash? That is the Question

And the answer is, it’s up to you.

Some quilters always pre-wash their fabric, and some quilters never do. While there is no clear right or wrong in many cases, here are some factors that can help you decide.

 

First, here's a couple of examples where it is pretty clear.

If you are making the quilt for a baby, you'll definitely want to pre-wash to remove any chemicals used in the finishing process of the fabric.

On the other hand, if your quilt will end up as a wall hanging, it may not be necessary.

Many quilters like to work with the fabric right off the bolt because the sizing and finishing process used when they are manufactured makes it more stable and, therefore easier to work with.

As long as it isn't going to be washed later, that won't be a problem. However, if it is going to be washed later, you are probably better off pre-washing the fabric.

Here's a couple of reasons why. If the colors run when you wash the quilt, a red and white quilt could end up pink and pinker. Or if there is excessive or uneven shrinkage of the fabric, a perfectly flat quilt could pucker up, never to lay flat again.

Here are some tips if you really don't like to pre-wash. When your buying fabric, ask if they've had any experience with it. They should be able to give you a good idea as to the characteristics of a particular fabric or manufacturer's line.

 

You can test for color-fastness by putting a small piece in a big glass of warm water with a little detergent in it. Put the fabric in the water and swirl it around, take it out and squeeze it over a white paper towel. If the water you squeezed out changes color, you should be able to see it on the white towel, and know that you'd better pre-wash.

 

If this convinces you to try pre-washing, then, after washing, try ironing it with a little spray starch or sizing to re-stabilize the fabric.

And the answer is, it’s up to you.

Some quilters always pre-wash their fabric, and some quilters never do. While there is no clear right or wrong in many cases, here are some factors that can help you decide. First, here's a couple of examples where it is pretty clear.

If you are making the quilt for a baby, you'll definitely want to pre-wash to remove any chemicals used in the finishing process of the fabric.

On the other hand, if your quilt will end up as a wall hanging, it may not be necessary.

Many quilters like to work with the fabric right off the bolt because the sizing and finishing process used when they are manufactured makes it more stable and, therefore easier to work with.

As long as it isn't going to be washed later, that won't be a problem. However, if it is going to be washed later, you are probably better off pre-washing the fabric.

Here's a couple of reasons why. If the colors run when you wash the quilt, a red and white quilt could end up pink and pinker. Or if there is excessive or uneven shrinkage of the fabric, a perfectly flat quilt could pucker up, never to lay flat again.

Here are some tips if you really don't like to pre-wash. When your buying fabric, ask if they've had any experience with it. They should be able to give you a good idea as to the characteristics of a particular fabric or manufacturer's line.

 

Many quilters like to work with the fabric right off the bolt because the sizing and finishing process used when they are manufactured makes it more stable and therefore easier to work with.

When your buying fabric, ask if they’ve had any experience with it. They should be able to give you a good idea as to what the characteristics of a particular fabric or manufacturers line are.

On the other hand, if the colors run when you wash the quilt, a red and white quilt could end up pink and pinker. Or if there is excessive or uneven shrinkage of the fabric, a perfectly flat quilt could pucker up never to lay flat again.

You can test for color-fastness by putting a small piece in a big glass of warm water with a little detergent in it. Put the fabric in the water and swirl it around, take it out and squeeze it over a white paper towel.

If the water you squeezed out changes color, you should be able to see it on the white towel and know you’d better pre-wash.

If this convinces you to try pre-washing, then, after washing, try ironing it with a little spray starch or sizing to re-stabilize the fabric.