Thursday, June 26, 2008

To Prewash or Not to Prewash...that is the question

Now, this is my opinion and this isn't all encompassing it's just regarding 'convenience cuts' of fabric.

In my opinion, Convenience Cuts are not meant to be pre-washed.

What do I mean by convenience cuts? I'm going to go ahead and call the following convenience cuts: Fat Quarters that are purchased specifically for a pattern that calls out fat quarters, Jelly Rolls (2-1/2" strips), Charm Packs (5" squares), Layer Cakes (10" squares).

When you buy a 'convenience cut' it's to save yourself time or effort in the quilting process. You don't have to choose your colors, you don't have to have all kinds of small yardages cut off of 20+ bolts. You can buy a pattern for one of these convenience cuts, go home cut your fabric up and start sewing. Yet, I'm reading on some message boards that people are trying to find the perfect way to pre-wash these cuts, if anyone has found a way to pre-wash them without creating a mess. And, Oh No! Now it shrunk and I don't have enough fabric to cut for this pattern!!

Now, I'll admit, I don't normally pre-wash. There are some things I'd consider washing but washing convenience cuts? Not at all. If you're a die hard pre-washer then convenience cuts are just not going to be for you and stop stressing out about them. Save your sanity. The vendors are not 'out to get you.' If your pattern is for 2-1/2" strips and you wash and dry your pre-cut strips and they're now shorter and narrower you may need to re-figure your math to make the pattern work. As quilters working with cotton, we know that it's going to shrink. If you pre-wash and dry your fat quarters for say a Turning Twenty quilt and they've shrunk, check ahead of time that they're still a viable size. If not, you may need to add some more pieces of fabric to make up for it. If I'm not mistaken, the pattern even tells you not to pre-wash for this very reason and offers ideas for if your pieces are no longer the correct size.

Pre-cut convenience packs are not for everyone. Just like Pre-Washing or hand sewing is not for everyone. Use what you like to use and do it in the method you like to do it in. If the convenience cuts make you unhappy, move on to something that does make you happy.

13 comments:

Suzan said...

I agree with you! I never pre-wash anything anymore unless it is red. You just never know with red dyes.

Trish said...

I always pre-wash (it's ingrained in my brain, goes way back to when I used to make clothes), but I just started a quilt from charm squares and I did not pre-wash them for just the reasons you said. I didn't want them to shrink or unravel. So my question is ... Can I wash and dry the top after it is pieced but before I layer and quilt it? I really don't want the 'old fashioned' look that it qets when it shrinks after it is quilted. Any idea?

Regina said...

I pre-wash most times, but learned the hard way when I had a bunch of FQ and charm squares for a "mish mash" make it up as you go along quilt -and without thinking just dumped them all in the washer. What a MESS!!! Never again! Love the charm squares -won't ever ever ever prewash them again.

Bethany said...

I messed up one time with fat quarters. I made a baby quilt with them instead of the lap size as they had shrunk that much.

I don't prewash the fabric unless it's a batik or a really dark color. I just want to get started on my project.

Kristie said...

I have never used batiks, so I don't know if this would work with them or not, but...I NEVER prewash!! My Grandmother told me that when I wash a quilt for the first time, to add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup of salt in the washer with it. Just regular table salt. I always do this and I have never had my fabrics to bleed.
Kristie

Kim West said...

I never prewash anymore. I used to when I was involved in online swaps and that was required. I no longer swap, so as I weed out my washed fabrics, I have only unwashed fabrics left now (maybe 1-2 pieces of yardage that will be used up soon!!). I hate to work with unwashed fabrics, I am not as accurate in my piecing with washed fabrics vs. unwashed. My dad (and my grandmother before she passed) always put table salt in the wash with vinegar and it sets the dyes. Not only keeps them from bleeding, but keeps the dyes from fading. My dad does this with all his new clothes the first wash.

Carla said...

I'm in the prewash camp. I typically use a lot of different fabrics in my quilts. I try to wash everything so that the shrinkage is the same. So, as I buy new fabric, I wash it and add it t0 the stash. Typically I do that for FQ'a as well but often do them by hand to avoid the thread mess. I haven't used jelly rolls, charms, or layer cakes yet but see where you wouldn't want to wash them.

BitnByAQuiltingBug said...

No prewashing for me! I like the shrunk up squishy look anyway. I haven't had any problem with colors so far...I suppose if it was a red that I was concerned might bleed...I might wash just that one fabric. I can't wait to hack it all up as soon as I get it anyway...washing would slow all of that down for me....

Gina said...

I don't pre wash either. I can't be bothered withthe ironing afterwards.
After I've quilted and bound a top I'll stick it in the washing machine with a colour catcher cloth just in case. So far so good.

love and hugs xxx

Moneik said...

I'm a prewasher. I don't like the stiffness of fabric and I've had some bad experiences with fabric fading and bleeding. I don't do it all the time, for instance if something needs to be done right now! I have to agree on the convenience cuts though, I wouldn't wash until the projects complete. I do wash fat quarters if I don't need them a perfect size.

Freeblady said...

I prewash everything. With that said, I normally buy extra for shrinkage. I have found that if you buy fabric from a LQS rather than a box store, the ironing and wrinkles aren't as bad. I do agree that there is no need to prewash "convenience cuts". One of my favorite things is those Shout color catchers that you put into the wash for bleeding fabrics. They're great!

kt said...

I'm definitely not a prewasher. I think maybe once in my life I have prewashed. and it was probably by accident. I haven't used the jelly rolls and layer cakes before, but I do have the charm squares... and I wouldn't want to risk the shrinkage there. I don't work with reds a lot (I'm a blue girl) so I'm not too worried there. I even used the repro indigos and didn't wash those! :) maybe this habit was born from laziness... :) and the desire to get right to work!

quiltin cntrygrl said...

Amen Sister!! Ha ha.. I quit pre-washing things because I didn't like that the sizing was all gone and the fabric just became hard to work with. I like my fabric to still feel a little stiff while sewing

Heather