Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Must Ask . . . Do You Pre-Wash Your Fabrics?

The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion. –Nadia Boulanger

Last week, I asked about the music that you all love. Music is as diverse as the people who listen to it. I remember a road trip with my grandparents and one of my aunts some twenty-odd years ago. We'd switch off music, every other 8-track. My aunt picked stuff like Kenny Loggins and Barry Manalow. My grandparents picked stuff like the beer-barrel polka and Liberace. As much music as is out there, no matter how diverse the tastes are, you can usually come together somewhere.

P., I really liked Michael Boulton too :rofl:. I have a few of his songs on my iPod now. Jenna and Shay, I'm right there with you on Michael Jackson. He was my second crush and I bought MJ trading cards. I have Thriller on my iPod and pretty much love all of his music. Iris, our music tastes overlap quite a bit. I know and like about 75% of the bands you listed off. Samantha, I'm with you on keeping it clean and Marianne, I'm definitely going to have to check out Tom Paxton!

I usually forget one or two categories in my polls, but last week I forgot a couple of really obvious ones. Namely, Folk Music, Blues, Opera, Movie Scores and Show Tunes {Broadway and movie musicals}. Movie scores are awesome. In the 80's, my dad and I saved up to get the LadyHawke soundtrack on vinyl {and according to him, vinyl is still the best way to listen}. When I have trouble falling asleep, I put on the soundtrack to Miss Potter and I'm usually out about ⅔ of the way in.

I absolutely love musicals! Love them! I have soundtracks for Disney musicals and broadway musicals and I love to listen to them {and to watch the movies!}. I took the Little Bugs to see the new Muppet movie. They open with a pretty catchy song, which I sang for about a week afterwards without really knowing the words. I know you all know what I mean. I looked for it on YouTube and had a really hard time deciding between three versions of it. In the end, I went with Kermit singing with the composer, Bret McKenzie. Enjoy listening to it and accept my apology for forgetting so many great music genres.

Today's question is really just for those who quilt and sew. I have a list that I work from for my questions each week. I think about it driving home from work or in the shower and most of them seem like a good idea at the time, but when it comes to writing out a post, sometimes I'm just not in the mood. I'm sorry to exclude the non-sewing/quilting group this time, but after some fabric came in the mail today {I ordered some Kona Cotton from The Fat Quarter Shop in a color I couldn't find in any store around here} I got a little curious. I was getting ready to throw the fabric in the wash, when I wondered if anybody else out there is a religious pre-washer like I am. I wash everything before I use it except for pre-cuts. And I don't use pre-cuts much, mostly because I can't pre-wash :lol:.

I've debated back and forth in my head if washing fabrics before use is really worth it. It is kind of a hassle. That pretty, new-from-the-bolt finish gets washed away and you have to press it before you can use it. The raw edges make a tangle in the wash and take forever to trim away for proper drying. And it is one more step between purchasing the fabric and actually getting to sew with it. Why bother, then?

Well, first things first. I serge my raw edges before washing. Really. I know :crazy:. I get looks when I take my pre-washed fabric into shops to audition it with other fabrics. But I worry about any of those frayed threads getting tangled up where they shouldn't be and breaking the washer. And, it takes longer to cut away all those tangled threads after the fabrics are washed than it does to serge the raw edges beforehand. And secondly, with the awesome Magic Starch recipe fabrics press up quickly and easily and look and feel just like new. That eliminates most of the hassle.

Back to the question at hand, then. Why bother with pre-washing? I do it for several reasons. The first reason is because of a lesson I learned a good 25 years ago: fabric shrinks! And when you spend hours making an item of clothing it is pretty disappointing to have it come out of the wash for the first time and have it be too small. When you're making a quilt, shrinkage is not so much an issue. The batting is going to shrink and the quilt is going to get crinkly and wrinkly. Maybe it is all in my head, but there is a bit of a different look when just the batting shrinks, as opposed to fabric and batting shrinking, and I kind of prefer just the batting shrinking.

Another reason is that if any of the dye runs, the dark colors won't bleed into the light colors and ruin a whole quilt. This is assuming you wash darks and light separately :wink:. The last of my big reasons for pre-washing is if the fabric was pulled off-grain it is easier to correct after you've washed and pressed the fabric. Cutting on the grain is kind of important.

I've tried a little experiment on the fabric I washed today. I'll let you know how it comes out next week. In the meantime I must ask . . . do you pre-wash your fabrics? Vot in the poll {you can mark always if you wash everything but pre-cuts. It totally counts.} If you pre-wash, leave me a comment and tell me why? If you don't, I'd like to hear about that too!

Just a reminder: the February Finishes Linky Party is open all month long! Add your finishes as you go! I'd love to see what you've been up to!


SewSara said...

nope, never!!
what a rebel i am huh? ;)

amylouwhosews said...

I prewash cotton when making clothing for myself. :) Otherwise no way. Too lazy. I use the Shout color catchers when I wash finished quilts to keep dyes from ruining the whites. :)

Samantha said...

I always prewash because I have had colors bleed AND a quilt shrunk oddly one time in the wash and came out all woogelie (yes it's a word, I just made it up) shaped.


Paulette said...

Always, for exactly the reasons you listed! Though I most certainly DO NOT serge the edges before washing (you freak). ;) I haven't wrecked my 28-year-old washer yet, and I don't mind trimming the frays before they do into the dryer.

I was working with some scraps today from someone who doesn't prewash, which is fine, different strokes for different folks and all. The pieces were too small to wash, though I spritzed them with water and pressed them. Nevertheless, they pressed differently when the pieces were assembled (more wrinkles...shrinkage I'm assuming). Kind of frustrating, but for this quilt, it'll add to the charm. But that is why I prewash; you know your fabric is going to behave more predictably.

hardhatcat said...

i used to always serger the edges before prewashing, but now i just tend to put them in a delicates bag and that seems to be satisfactory.
If i get given small scraps for quilting i dont' always prewash those as they are sometimes too small and i wouldn't have much left at the end, so that's why i put mostly.
I also prefer to prewash for garment making as well for woven cottons but i don't bother for stretch knit fabrics

Vicki said...

I prewash fabric that will be used for making clothing, not quilt fabric. Ok, sometimes I prewash cheaper quilting fabric in case of dye running. :)

quiltmom anna said...

Nope Elizabeth, I don't because then I would have to press it and then spray starch it all. I really like the way that new fabric is when I am cutting it and sewing it.
I use all cotton fabrics and have not had any problems with shrinkage.
Regards from Western Canada,

Richard Healey said...

I don't pre-wash at all my first quilt I pre-washed then it got the whole stringy thing then I cut them all strait and then I was short on material and then Train Wrek (Ok it is a pretty quilt but still) As a guy I um don't like to do the wash? Um not the best reason to not pre-wash but it works for me.
Stop by for my quilt givaway to guess my babys b-day and weight.

Irina said...

I don't pre-wash fabrics that I will use for making quilts. A quilter told me that the good quality fabrics (Moda, etc...) do not really need washing...
But when it comes to clothes making, I always do, as I know these will be items that I will wash regularly and it really matters if they shrink.
I must try the Magic Starch mix, although in Ireland I don't know where to get liquid starch...I might had to look out for other homemade recipes!

eliabeth said...

I prewash everything but pre-cuts for the same reasons that you do. Years ago I made a lined top and I didn't prewash the fabric. The fashion fabric shrank and the lining did not - bad news.

My grandmother was a couture dress-maker and she showed me the "professional" way of preshrinking fabric. It involved gently wetting it and pressing dry, so as not to distort the grain lines. I just throw it in the washing machine.

Another friend of mine told me that she only pre- washes right when she is going to use the fabric. She was worried that as soon as she washed it, it would start to break down. She probably had fabric that was 40+ years old, so I'm sure she knew a thing or two. Come to think of it, she was also the one who told me to store thread in the freezer to keep it strong. She is definitely from a more thrifty generation, and a great quilter.

Marjorie said...

I used to pre-wash everything. Now I wash everything purchased at a fabric or hobby store, but am less obsessive about that bought in quilt shops as the fabric weave tends to better with less issues. I prewash red and fuchsia b/c of bleeding. And I'll wash most any piece that is 1/2 yard or more.

Jill said...

I don't quilt. But when I do sew, it's mostly just Halloween costumes. I don't think that I've ever worried about washing those. They just go in the costume box when November hits. So almost never. But when I made flannel blankets for Christmas one year, I washed those fabrics first.

carol said...

I prewash everything. Most fabric is now made in China and overseas. I don't know where that fabric has been. warehouses often spray for bugs, and such Yes most bolts are wrapped in plastic, but, bugs are.... just BUGS I'm like you I serge most yardage. but not small stuff. I like someone elss's idea of a delicate bag.

Regina said...

I prewash almost everything. If I'm using a jelly roll or layer cake then I don't wash those first.

pinksuedeshoe said...

Definitely prewash. For all the same reasons you said, and for the bugs, AND because I have a thing about germs. Fabric manufactured in China, shipped to the USA, moved to a UPS truck, carted across the country on a train and then dropped off at a quilt shop where it sits on the shelf for who knows how long with who knows how many germy fingers touching it gives me the heebie jeebies. Germs are gross. Even germs on nice quilting store fabric are gross. Wash, dry, fold. I store most everything folded up and I have to iron it by the time I use it whether I prewashed or not. So I wash as soon as I bring it home. Of course, I didn't decide this until sometime last summer. And then I spent a whole weekend prewashing, trimming, pressing and refolding 14 loads of fabric laundry. If it was at least fat eigth size it got washed. And I have a hard time wanting to use the smaller germy scraps with my nice clean only my own germs fabrics. Sigh. I'm as weird as you :)

guystwart said...

Such a wonderful blog, I really love it.

hueisei said...

No.. I think I'm lazy ..haha..and I trust the color of the fabric.

Shay said...

Sometimes. Not with pre cuts but with strong colours like reds, I always pre-wash .

I like the crinkly effect not washing gives some quilts so sometimes the not washing before is deliberate.

I would never serge my edges before washing. Wayyyyyy too much work ! I am in awe of your dedication.