Christa’s Soapbox – Why I Prewash My Fabrics

This was a very difficult post to write and I debated about even talking about it. But since I promised on my blog to show my failures as well as my successes, I need to get up on my soap box and implore you to pre-wash your fabrics whenever possible.

Here is my ruined quilt that just devastated me (but I am getting over it after lots of crying!) Do you see the distinct outline of blue? That is from the back bleeding to the front!!

Ruined Quilt

After countless hours of sewing and machine quilting this puppy, I decided I wanted to block it. Since one of my quilting goals is to enter more competitions, I have been learning about starching, blocking, burying my thread tails, and all of the other “little” details one does to make a quilt really stand out.

Because I had used precut squares for both the front and back of the quilt, I did not prewash them. I didn’t have problems when soaking the top with a spray bottle to erase all of my blue marked quilting lines. But then I submerged the quilt in my bathtub to completely soak it so that it was ready to block (lay out smooth on a flat surface to dry into place).

Bathtub Soak

The next day after it started drying, I noticed blue ink seeping through the top and I about had a heart attack. Apparently dye from one of the large blue squares from the pieced backing soaked through to the top. I kept waiting for it to dry thinking I was only seeing shadowing. But no, it really did bleed through to the front. Now, the weird thing is that this exact same piece of fabric is also on the front of the quilt and it did not bleed.

Laying Flat to Dry

In this picture you can see the pieced backing squares showing through to the front. When it dried you couldn’t see them anywhere except in one very distinct spot where the fabric bled.

So I’m not sure if it was just a fluke, or if somehow the water reacted with the wool batting in a weird way or if it was just my day to have bad quilting luck. I really don’t know. But no matter what – I’ve learned a few things with this quilt.

1. Always, always prewash as much as possible. I will be experimenting at some point on how to wash precuts since they are more delicate. If anyone has tips on how to do this please let me know!

2. Even when using precuts that are not washed, I will always use a shout color catcher in the wash from now on. Subsequent quilts I have made from precuts have not had this problem. In fact, I generally throw in 2-3 color catcher sheets to the wash  just for good measure.

Shout Color Catcher

3. Pieced backings are ok but just make sure they are lighter than the majority of the fabrics in the top – not a good idea with all of that white fabric.

4. After all, it is just a quilt and there will always be another one. This has been the hardest lesson to learn. I will move on and there will be more amazing quilts. But this did break my heart.

Finished QuiltYou can still see some of the shadowing where the darker fabrics show through the top. But there is a distinct light blue patch on the front where it’s fabric bleeding, not shadowing.

Oh well, at least it still hangs nice and flat – so blocking does work! 🙂 Maybe I will dye the whole thing light blue some day. I can always keep it as a sample of what NOT to do!