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.