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8 Top Reasons Why Quilters Don't Need to Prewash

Jackie Vujcich art quilt BOM fabric bleeding fabric panels fabric shrinking panels prewash fabric

8 Top Reasons Why Quilters Don't Need to Prewash Fabric by Colorado Creations Quilting
A blog series on pre-washing quilt fabric:

Reasons why not to prewash

  1. You don't want your precuts' size to change.  Precuts (jelly rolls, charm packs, layer cakes, fabric panels etc.) will unravel or get distorted and no longer be the standard size due to shrinking if the fabric is prewashed. (If you’re a “prewasher” I suggest hand washing in the sink.  I didn't and now this 42-piece charm pack now measures 4 3/4" x 5".)

    Prewashed precuts shrunk after washing by Colorado Creations Quilting 

    FREEBIE-  BTW, I am giving this (prewashed) charm pack.  I'll choose a person from the 1st 50 people that sign up for my newsletter and mention that you saw this in the post!
  2. You want to be able to use the kit you purchased.  Kits, including block-of-the-months (BOMs),               

      Colorful Columbine Quilt Kit by Colorado Creations Quilting 

    generally do not have much more fabric than what is required to complete the pattern (yes, even mine-they will be on soon).  So, if you pre-wash, the pieces might shrink enough so that you won’t be able to cut that 4 ½” square called for in the quilt pattern.
  3. You want to keep the sizing in the fabric to aid with cutting and sewing the fabric. (This is my one personal exception to prewashing fabric.  I don’t prewash fabric when I am making or teaching a One Block Wonder or Stack N’ Whack-type quilt or class where I need that crispness to make fussy cuts.)  If you don’t know what a fussy cut is, check out my upcoming tutorial to investigate “Fussy cut, Messy cut, Confetti cut - What’s the Difference?” 
  4. You don’t want to deal with fabric that frays with prewashing.  If you find that you do end up having to wash, to minimize the fraying you can treat the fabric’s edges with one of these methods: use pinking shears, serge or zigzag the raw edges prior to prewashing the fabric.
  5. You want your “rag quilt” to fray, you will need to make the quilt and then wash the completed project to get the soft rag quilt look.  Generally, if your project isn’t intended to be a rag quilt, I’d definitely suggest to prewash flannel because of the fact that flannel does fray / shrink excessively.
  6. You don't want to wash your art quilts or wall hangings. These types of quilts generally don’t get "wear and tear" and therefore don’t need pre-washing.  Yes, but read step 3 under the Reasons to Prewash section first.

    Art Quilt picturing a group of aspen trees in the woods by Colorado Creations Quilting

  7. You don't want to wait to start that next quilt or craft project.  Just too eager to start  and don't have time to prewash!  OK, I get this one.
  8. You don't want to spend time ironing after prewashing the fabric. For those that hate to iron - Get a MANGLE!  (I really love this thing!)

                                  Image of a Mangle ironing machine by Colorado Creations Quilting  

    See Part 1 of this blog series to find out more about mangles.

    Quilty Quote:          Quote: “No day in which you learn something is a complete loss.”  by  David Eddings

    Well that's my two cents’ worth and I'm sticking to it!

    Tune in to my next blog post to discover solutions like Retayne and Synthrapol and a helpful colorfast test.  Also, if you missed the other side of the debate check out part 1 of this blog series.  

    Let me know if you prewash fabric or not and why. Do you have a compelling reason to either wash or not that I haven’t addressed here?  Comment below and feel free to share this blog post (or my web site) with others

    Until next time, Happy Quilting,

    Jackie V (‘cuz my computer hasn’t learned how to spell Vujcich)

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  • Jackie Vujcich on

    Thanks for the feedback Cynthia. My hope is that the knowledge I’ve gained in the past 20+ years (now I’m dating myself!) will help other quilters.

  • Cynthia Doobovsky on

    Thank you for the pre- washing info. Post of it is new to me!

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