Next Border on Scrappy Star

There are three borders on Scrappy Star now. I’m working on the fourth border, which is a pieced border. For it, I need close to 200 QSTs. That’s the majority of them in the picture. In less than the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, I had all of them printed, cut out and ready to stitch.

So what does this have to do with it? On the weekend, I was washing some fabric for various projects. I tend to wash a lot of fabric by hand for numerous reasons, including the fact the washing machines in our laundry room are front loading and lock once the wash cycle begins. So I can’t check the water to see if anything is bleeding.

But that’s not the main reason I wash my fabrics. I want to get rid of the sizing and other chemicals that are in the fabrics. Many of the fabrics we use now are printed offshore and come to North America in large shipping containers, sit in warehouses and then get shipped. And something I’ve noticed a lot lately is that when I wash fabrics, even though they don’t bleed, the water is … well, dirty. It’s the only word for it. There’s a real grey dirty look to the water. After a good wash and rinse, the water is rinsing clear.

I know it’s a never-ending debate in quilting, whether to pre-wash or not, and everyone has their own preference. My choice is to work with fabric that’s clean and as free of chemicals as possible. As a hand piecer, I prefer the softness of fabrics with the sizing washed out. The very few times I’ve worked with unwashed fabrics, I’ve found myself coughing every time I pressed whatever I was making with them. I think that’s the formaldehyde and other chemicals reacting with the heat of the iron that bothers me.

I know I’m opening up a big can of worms here, but what’s your preference and why?

Baxter has no opinion on the subject at all. He’s much too busy guarding the toy basket.

21 thoughts on “Next Border on Scrappy Star

  1. Hi Cathi, I don’t wash as I tend to machine piece. I find the sizing helps stabilise the fabric, at least in my mind. I also tend to just throw the finished quilt into the washing machine on handwash and cross my fingers that the reds dont bleed. So far, so good.

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  2. I like to pre-wash and for pretty much the same reasons that you like to do so. I like the feel better and if it is going to bleed it has already done that too. Can’t wait to see your borders. My cats also have no opinion as to whether fabrics are washed or not.

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  3. sometimes even though you pre-wash your fabric can bleed when it is in the quilt. Sometimes I pre-wash and sometimes I don’t. I have one quilted wall hanging that the fabric had not been pre-washed and when I was done with the quilt I washed it and it wash just great, no problems, a couple years later washed it and it was fine – 3rd time the darn thing bleed! I couldn’t believe it – I had to treat and fuss with it, most finely came out, enough that I was satisfied, but it was startling to say the least.
    Karen

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  4. I’m with you, pre-wash before using. We can never really know what chemicals were used in manufacturing and as someone who has asthma I really want to make sure I enjoy what I’m working on and am not going to have problems during or after I start working with them.

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  5. I usually prewash but find it difficult when I use charm squares as they fray and then I lose the size. I do usually wash the quilt when finished and have used a colour catcher to absorb the dye. They are not avaiable in Canada. I bought this box when I was visiting in Australia. I have seen an ad on US TV so hopefully they are on their way to Canada.

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  6. I am another pre-washer. πŸ™‚ I have several reasons, but chief reason is what you mentioned. Those chemicals are nasty, and the skin on my hands actually feels irritated when I handle unwashed fabric for a time. They cannot be good for you, and what is on your skin goes IN your skin and body. πŸ˜‰ I do actually prefer that store stiffness myself, but feel it’s a worthy sacrifice. My other reasons include proactively addressing any possible shrinkage and bleeding. I am at heart a lazy quilter, so I must feel pretty strongly about this to hassle with the washing (and subseqent pressing! LOL)

    P.S. As I know you’re a baseball fan, wanted to say: Only two more weeks to Spring Training. πŸ˜€

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  7. I’m with you on the pre-washing. I have some health issues and want to make sure the chemicals in the fabric don’t aggravate them. It’s also nice to know the fabric won’t shrink or bleed when I use it. Everything gets washed as soon as it comes in my front door (except pre-cuts) and ironed before it’s put away.

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  8. Yes, it is amazing the variety of opinions that exist on the option of washing/non-washing quilt fabrics. I come from the old school and am standing firm on washing
    all fabrics! Like you, I realize with time even more toxic chemicals may be settling on our imported fabrics…and it is a hard guess to know what warehouses use for pest control, etc. that may find their way into those containers too. So…I raise my hand for pre-washing fabrics! What do ya think Baxter…do you like your naps on fresh laundered scraps and snippets??? ;-))))))

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  9. I definitely wash before using. I can’t stand the fumes that are emitted when ironing – it’s a smell that really bothers my nose and lungs. It can’t be good for you. And seeing how we have no idea what different chemicals they use in the printing process and the “treating” process, let alone the chemicals used in the plant for rodent control…I will always wash my fabrics first. Plus, I love the feel of the fabric after it’s been washed – it’s so much softer to handle and feels like “old” fabric – and that’s a good thing in my books.

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  10. I always wash and use one of those color guard sheets that always grab the color if it bleeds.
    I would think you could have Baxter do a taste test with washed or not washed fabrics to see if they taste better after being washed, I’m sure he would help you out! πŸ™‚

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  11. I was never a washer of fabric. I liked the crisp fabric. I would wash after it was quilted, for that antique look. That said…I now wash everything that comes in the house (garage is not washed). I have developed an allergy to the dyes and chemicals, runny nose and tearing, burning eyes.
    Can’t wait to see the next border.

    Hugs,

    Frummie

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  12. I also pre wash everything for the same reasons – chemicals, bleeding and shrinkage. I like it to feel nice when I touch it. Sometimes this is a problem for working on group quilt projects as I don’t want to participate in swaps etc as the fabric may not have been washed.

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  13. I always pre-wash my fabric for the same reasons as you. I have to tell you this story. One time we sprayed some insecticide in the laundry room for ants and when we dried our clothes in the dryer , They came out really smelly. It’s a gas dryer and I called the repairman and he said the clothes might smell if we were painting or had sprayed something in the laundry room. I said we had sprayed for ants and he said that’s what caused the smell on the clothes.I ran the dryer a few times with old towels and the smell eventually went away. Okay, so I was taking a class at a quilt shop and I didn’t prewash the fabric and as I was ironing it, it had the same smell as the clothes from my dryer. My sister said she had heard that the bolts of fabrics from overseas were sprayed with insecticide once landing on our shores. Makes you wonder what the heck could be in there. I’m glad I pre-wash.

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  14. I agree with you, Cathi, on the dirtiness of fabrics. Just the fact that so many quilt shops have there bolts directly on the floor (yuk) is enough to make me want to wash it first. I wash everything, and sometimes several times to get all the bleeding of color out. I’ve had scraps given to me from friends, and I don’t know where they were stored, but they smelled awful……a combo between cigarettes and musty! Yuk! So yeah, it all gets washed! It’s so much nicer to hand piece with something that feels and smells good! :o)

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  15. I agree that for hand piecing, washed fabric is the only way to go, softer and more flexible. I don’t wash my regular cottons because I machine piece and like the fabric crisper. I do wash my batiks since they smell waxy when they are ironed if I don’t wash them. I don’t have much trouble with any colors running, at least not anything that color catchers won’t take care of.

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  16. These days the concern isn’t so much whether fabrics will shrink or colours run – it’s more about the chemicals used in the fabric, isn’t it? I’m sitting on the fence on this one…..sometimes I wash first, sometimes I don’t. Baxter isn’t really worried one way or the other, is he?

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  17. I also pre wash all my fabric as I prefer the feel and smell of washed fabric. I use starch when I’m ironing them though as I find it makes marking sewing lines and cutting easier although the cutting aspect is more noticeable when I use a rotary cutter rather than scissors. Also, like you I often find that new (unwashed) fabric leaves my hands feeling slightly dry and dusty, not a pleasant feeling when you’re sewing!

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  18. Love the colour for the scrappy star border.
    I tend to wash my fabrics as I like to find the bleeders then if I cannot get them to stop they are retired for something else and used in a project which won’t worry about bleeding. Also I inklingo so washing is a must there.
    Have just found my block carrier with 5 blocks for a new quilt has been sprayed by one of our cats and some of the fabrics have bled not too bad. Cat inquestion is our indoor/outdoor boy and doesn’t like boxes!

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  19. Im with you!…I prewash…I like the softer fabric…It keeps my Iron cleaner….I dont need to wory as much about bleeding or shrinkage….it just makes me feel better to wash first.

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  20. prewash. def. My ex used to work in an import facility at JFK and EVERYTHING that comes in from other countries is sprayed with insecticides. This is in addition to any sizing, or preservative chemicals that are part of the manufacturing process. so, um, yeah, better to wash and be safe, as well as comfortable.
    hugs to you and mr q and baxter.

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