To make this job easier, I love using Shout Color Catchers. You can get them pretty inexpensively at Target or Wal-Mart and they work wonders with quilt fabrics.
They are rectangular sheets of material that almost look like dryer sheets. You put them in with the fabric during the wash cycle. The extra color that comes off in the water adheres to the sheets, not other fabrics. I’ll use at least 2 per load when washing a bundle of fabric, and will throw in more if I’m washing a large quilt.
After discovering problems with some of my personal stash fabrics running, I used several sheets when washing my sister-in-law’s wedding quilt I recently finished (only 2 years late). I had sewn the blocks so long ago, I couldn’t remember if they had been pre-washed or not. I used 4 color catchers with the quilt and it came out fine. I breathed a huge sigh of relief!
I used this red batik fabric in a small wholecloth quilt I recently made. I wanted to make sure it didn’t run so I washed it twice – with one color catcher each time.
The first color catcher sheet came out orange after the first wash; by the second wash, the excess color was mostly gone so I knew it was now safe to use this fabric!
I’m still experimenting with pre-washing, using color catchers in every load of cut yardage, and throwing a sheet in with quilts made from fabric that I can’t pre-wash like Moda Precuts.
During my previous post about pre-washing I got a really good comment about using Retayne, a dye fixative, with unwashed precuts. I forgot I even had some! So that will be my next experiment I think…..