Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I have a question for you.  Do you pre-wash your fabrics before making a quilt?

I had to pre-wash for the quilt I'm currently working on because I used seersucker, shirting, and quilting cotton.  Each fabric had a different make-up (polyester/cotton blend, for example), so I decided that I should shrink them all before sewing them together.  The last thing I want is for some parts of my quilt to shrink up more than others.

I had never done it before a few days ago because it seemed like so much work.  And waiting.  I mean, who wants to wait for fabric to wash and dry before cutting into it, right? Not to mention the ironing...

I must say that I was extremely surprised at how much I enjoyed the whole process.  I actually liked ironing all my newly cleaned fabrics.  It was also nice to know what they looked like after being washed.  Usually it's a throw the quilt in on the gentle cycle and pray that it comes out alright kind of thing.  It was also nice to piece clean fabric.  I don't know why, but there was something about it...

Anyway, I'm just thinking about making the switch to pre-washing everything.  It is important not to mix pre-washed fabrics with fabrics that aren't pre-washed, so I think I'll have to commit to one way or the other.  Here is a great discussion on pre-washing.

So again, the question is, do you pre-wash?  Why or why not?  Thanks for your help!


  1. I prewash EVERYTHING. It's time consuming, especially when you get new fabric and want to use it right away. But after seeing how much it shrinks in the wash, I just don't want to take that risk with a finished item.

  2. I prewash everything - I hate ironing, but when it comes to the fabric, there is something really fun and exhilarating about ironing freshly dried fabric. I prewash because I'm already so lazy about somethings when it comes to quilting that I figure it will turn out better if I at least start off on the right foot.

    However...I really like the way your quilts have looked - I didn't know you hadn't prewashed the fabric, but the quilt then wash method looks really fabulous if your work is any indicator of results.

  3. I've done both. And like you I like to pre-wash. I am a longarm quilter and I want to see the quilting after it's been washed and NOT the squished up look. Also...batting also shrinks, so if you run your batting through a quick rinse then dry in the dryer that will help with shrinkage. Great topic!

  4. no, I never prewash. I'm too lazy I guess. Although I do prewash flannel, if I'm using that in a quilt. But that's it.

  5. I don't pre-wash either altho' I have wondered about it. I do for flannel and linen but only because I have learnt from experience! Juliex

  6. I never prewash...I like working with new fabrics. Plus I like the look after it is washed!

  7. Hey, Mandy! I found you through my daughter-in-law, Mary Beth....
    I have been quilting since 1976! The only time I pre-wash is with dark fabrics and batiks. Both which are risky and may bleed. I use a product called retayne and there is also Woolite Dye Magnet sheets to throw in the wash that capture the dyes and keep it from spreading onto other fabrics. I stopped pre-washing because it took time and in the Guilds I belong to, hardly anyone does it. The most important thing I have learned these past 30+ years is to starch, starch, starch your fabrics, before cutting. If you are piecing a lot of small pieces, then you want it starched stiff enough to hold up like soft cardboard. Your cutting will be much more exact and your seams more accurate if you do this. The shrinkage that occurs after washing a quilt (several times) will give it a soft feel and an antique look. But if you are doing a wall quilt...don't bother, just vacuum it occasionally. You will get different answers on this, but most long time quilters don't wash unless the fabric will bleed. If the ragged edges bother you, you can sew a quick seam across the edges before you toss it in the wash.

    Lastly, the type of batting you use will effect the look afterwards as well. Be sure to read on each package before using and make sure that the type of quilting done matches the batting! Some batts state "for quilting up to 4" apart" and some will allow for quilting to to "6 r 8" apart, so this will affect how the quilt looks after it is washed. Good Luck! The Dixiequilter!

  8. I always prewash everything. No surprises! It is more peaceful to know how each is going to shrink.

    Is there a design and are there directions for the seersucker quilt?
    Thanks Cathey