Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Prewash or Not to Prewash...I learned the hard way!

I've been a quilter for quite a long time now, and when I started out, prewashing your fabrics was the rule.  It was generally accepted practice that prewashing (and ironing) the fabric before you started removed any sizing, allowed for shrinkage and also removed any excess dye to come out of the fabrics.

Somewhere along the line, I was seduced into the belief that this was no longer necessary, as the manufacturing processes have evolved since I began quilting.  I learned the very hard way this week that this isn't necessarily so.  And I will be writing "I will prewash all my fabric" 100 times when this blog post is done.

LSM before - note the bleeding at the binding

Lake Shore Magic was hanging in a local quilt shop here in town to promote the fact that I would be teaching it later this fall.

That quilt shop had a pipe leak over the weekend, right over where they hung my quilt; the shop owner called me immediately upon finding the quilt.  I think, truthfully, she was almost as upset about the quilt as she was about the computer that was also a casualty of the pipe.

When she called me, I couldn't tell how bad it is noticeable, but it's not catastrophic. But I wanted to see what I could do to repair it.  The first thing I did was spread it out to dry on my sunporch, and the second thing I did was to make a couple of inquiries.

Synthrapol - the solution of choice 
The general consensus that I got was that the correct thing to do was to submerge the entire quilt in a bath of hot water and Synthrapol.  Synthrapol is a special detergent used to remove unattached excess dye after dyeing, and I picked up a bottle in I know why.  The instructions on the bottle call for the hottest water that the fabric can bear - and all I could see was Lake Shore Magic becoming a pink quilt.  So I did nothing (actually, my grandpuppy came by for a visit, and provided a diversion.  I just realized that I need a picture of Bentley...he's a cute diversion. )

After much thought, and  a sleepless night...I gritted my teeth, headed to the screen porch armed with the diluted solution and Q tips.  I decided to try to spot clean the areas most affected, rather than dip the whole quilt...who knew what that was going to do.

The process is ongoing, and I will post more pics in the next's currently a work in process.  I will probably always know its there, but you might not.   When I constructed the quilt, I brought a generic pile of fabric with me to work on...I probably should have realized that I was courting disaster by not prewashing the reds, but being me, I leapt before I looked or thought about it.

I am going back to being a prewash girl...always. My next big project will be a Judy Niemeyer class with loads of beautiful batik fabrics. It's time to stock up on laundry detergent.

I will prewash all my fabric...
I will prewash all my fabric...
I will prewash all my fabric...


  1. Oh, that must have been awful to find out that your quilt had been leaked on and then the colors bled. I hope you have great success in getting all the excess color out.

  2. So glad it isn't that bad. Being the rebel I am, even this will not convince me to be a prewasher. I'm a fan of living on the edge.