Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prewashing?? I vote YES!!


It's snowing today, so it's a perfect day to work at prewashing all my recent (and not so recent!) fabric purchases.  YES, it's a nuisance - that's why I always put it off!  Committing to prewashing means I end up having fabric piled all over the place waiting to be prewashed, such as this pile on top of my dryer.

But, I'm more convinced than ever about the importance of preshrinking your fabrics after reading this post and this post by Rachel at Stitched in Color.  (Makes me feel even better to know I'm not the only one who feels strongly about prewashing!)  Here's the link to what I had posted previously about my thoughts.  I'm planning to purchase a few more lingerie bags at the dollar store for use with smaller cuts of fabric, especially those skinny 1/4 yard non-fat quarter cuts.  Today I tried pinking the raw edges (another nuisance, even with my good Gingher pinking shears!) to prevent raveling, so I think I'll also purchase a rotary pinking blade; that should makes things go a little quicker.  (I don't recommend zig zagging the edges - it will prevent your fabric from laying flat.)  Here are the reasons I had listed on my previous post:

1)  Because I want to be able to mix fabrics in a quilt without having to worry if they have been prewashed or not.
2)  I want to be able to use any fabric from my stash for hand applique, and prewashed fabrics do much better when using the needle-turn-applique method.
3)  I still do a fair amount of hand quilting, and prewashed fabrics needle much better.
4)  I don't like the idea of my hands touching all the chemicals that remain in fabric from the manufacturing process.  Learning that fabric directly off the bolt still contains dyes, formaldehyde, insecticides, etc. (AAAHHHH!!!) was the final data I needed to make my decision!

In addition, here are a few more reasons that motivate me:

1) Fabric right off the bolt is often terribly stretched and distorted. (Have you ever noticed how the bolts are sometimes jammed onto some store shelves, resulting in quite a bit of distortion?)
Prewashing your fabric gives the fibers a chance to relax back into their natural shape.

Take a look at these two pictures!  Both are 1/2 yard cuts from a reputable manufacturer!

2) I prefer to press my seams with a bit of steam.  If the fabric has been prewashed, I don't have to worry about shrinkage.
3) Fabrics that haven't been prewashed are much more slippery, which I find makes accurate piecing difficult.
4) Prewashed fabrics stick to a design wall much better.
5)  The commitment to prewashing keeps our fabric purchases under control. (Ask yourself when you're contemplating a fabric purchase - do you love that fabric enough to prewash it??!!)

OK, Here's how I go about it:
I use just a bit of detergent and wash on cold (I would never wash a quilt in anything but cold water),
on delicate cycle with the shortest time possible.
Tumble dry on low.
Remove fabric from dryer when ever-so-slightly damp. (It's almost impossible for me to multitask when prewashing - it's important to pay close attention.  Even an extra minute too long in the dryer can result in fabrics with rumples "baked" in.)
Iron damp fabrics with a dry iron or smooth and allow to finish air drying.  If your fabrics ended up in the dryer longer than you intended, use a steam iron to remove wrinkles.

One thing I have found helpful is to try to avoid buying 1/4 yard cuts that aren't fat quarters.  That way I don't have that skinny piece of fabric tangling around everything in the wash.  I usually buy 1/2 yards cuts for the most part just to avoid that nuisance.
OK, are you convinced??!! 
 I want to encourage you to join the small (but hopefully growing!) ranks of those of us who prewash! 

(Yes, there's always going to be stacks of fabric waiting to prewashed, but as long as it's folded, organized, and neatly stacked, it can be a design feature, not a nuisance!)

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