Something to Shout about

A couple of things, actually.
First of all, I hit a jackpot recently.
I found a place clearancing all their solids for 75% off.
Most of their solids were Kona. (Woot!)
This is the cumulative of three different trips to that store.
(Although some orange and green
has already been used in the Ireland quilt.)
I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or giddy.
Some of both, but leaning heavily on the giddy side.

See those reds on the bottom of the pile?
This brings me to the topic of today’s blogersation.

Washing fabrics.
Do you?

My mom has been a fabric pre-washer for years and so I was one too. Until I started working in a quilt shop. When making a quilt for the store, the employees just start hacking away at the fabric, sewing, quilting, binding, and then washing. Honestly, it’s much more time efficient. The vast majority of quality quilting fabrics are amazing. Their colors hold up beautifully. After seeing hundreds of quilts made and then washed over the past 6 years I could probably count on one hand the number that have had fabric-dye-issues where a color bled.

And this color is usually the culprit.
See those sweet little doves?

One of my still all time favorite fabrics, but do you see how the doves on the left are more pink than the doves on the right? This is a little table runner and the bleeding was caused only by a spilled cup of water at dinner time. (Which is an inevitable occurrence around here.) Most of the red & white fabrics in this piece are completely colorfast, but here’s an example of that random one that’s not!
In one of my current projects I am using one of my newly acquired solid reds. [This one is not a Kona – therefore I’m a little more worried about it.] Since I’m also using a lot of solid white in this quilt – and I’d like it to remain white instead of pink – I decided to pre-wash this red. And the rest of the solid reds while I was at it.
While they were in the wash, I threw in one of these Shout Color Catcher sheets,
just to see what would happen.
Here are the results.
Check out how much dye it absorbed.
Glad I took that precaution now.

I usually throw one of these color catchers in with any quilt I’m washing for the first time as an insurance policy. I’ve even used it to clean-up a quilt that did bleed after the first wash (thanks to those same little doves!) and it made a big difference. They’re available in the laundry aisle at your grocery store and worth every penny. (And no, they did not pay me to say this, although that would have been nice.)

Any other good fabric-washing-tips? I think this can be a topic that sparks hot debate among quilters, but since we all mourn the ruination of a pretty quilt, feel free to share what works best for you.

PS I almost couldn’t resist using another 80’s classic to title this post, but didn’t want anyone to have Tears for Fears stuck in their head all day.

Okay that’s all.


  1. says

    To wash or not to wash that is a loaded quilty question. Ranking up there with &quot;press seams to dark side or open&quot;. <br />I was trained many, many moons ago to prewash. So it&#39;s very difficult for me to not. <br />But ANYTHING red gets soaked first and then washed, if it bleeds after the 1st time round-it&#39;s out. But hey that&#39;s just me-and there are no quilt police, whew!

  2. says

    I had the blue in an Alexander henry 2d zoo bleed badly once. I didn&#39;t prewash. Now I do. And I figure if I prewash the reds and blues and other &quot;dark&quot; colors, I might as well prewash it all. It changes the &quot;feel&quot; of the fabric in most cases, but I figure I&#39;m going to use the quilt and wash it, in most cases frequently, so I might as well pre-shrink. And I can&#39;t

  3. says

    i only prewash if i&#39;m planning to use the fabric in clothing. i really dislike prewashing. as you mentioned, it is much more time consuming. i also use the color catchers and they have served me well so far. even if the color catcher comes out showing dye it has absorbed, my quilt still looks like it did when i threw it in the wash! it&#39;s pretty amazing, really.

  4. says

    My quilt shop taught me to not prewash but to use the color catchers each time you wash your quilt until the color catcher comes out white (even on a completely baby pink quilt). I have a red, white, and green Christmas quilt made of less than quilt shop quality fabric and the color catches saved it each washing. I don&#39;t worry when I wash, I just make sure I use the color catchers–they are

  5. says

    I do the same thing – I don&#39;t prewash and then use the color catcher on the first wash of the finished quilt. <br /><br />I found that Spray n wash with resolve gets out anything that may run or grease/ink marks that get on the quilt. <br /><br />I love all those solids – and what a deal!!!! But I would be a bit afraid of the red, too.

  6. says

    I&#39;m lazy and I don&#39;t prewash, unless I&#39;m using a lot of dark colours (or that pesky red) and white together. And I always use colour catchers. Mostly I use 2, just in case, and a cup of salt – just to be safe. And, actually, sine I started doing that I&#39;ve had no bleeds (I&#39;m knocking on wood now so hard you&#39;d think there was a woodpecker in the house).

  7. says

    I do not prewash. However when I first started quilting, I did prewash. It just took too much time and I feel like the fabric quality these days is much safer than before.<br /><br />Ohh…but if I am making a quilt w/lots of red, I do try to soak the fabric.<br /><br />I am also a firm believer in the color catchers! I think that a quilter must have come up with the idea!

  8. says

    i definitely fear the bleeding fabric…i never pre wash i just throw in a color catcher and hold my breath until the laundry is done.

  9. says

    I read a long time ago on Amanda Jean&#39;s blog to add a cup of salt to the first washing of any quilt….and it works great! I haven&#39;t a quilt bleed yet!

  10. says

    Thanks for the post, I never pre-wash but have been wondering if I should. I will have to go pick up a box of those sheets. <br /><br />PS: I love 80&#39;s music and your titles!

  11. says

    I am not a pre-washer (too lazy) and never had a problem until I did a quilt in all orange prints and white Kona. One of the prints bled (I could never figure out which one). Anyway, the ladies in my quilt group suggested using the color catchers and between them and some Spray and Wash stain stick ALL of the bleeding came out. I can&#39;t tell you how happy I was! I am now sold on the color

  12. says

    I never pre-wash…and I&#39;ve never had a problem…although sometimes I use 3 Color Catchers in the wash. I do have one quilt that was a block of the month…it has lots of reds of which I&#39;m not sure of the quality…and lots of cream background…think this is the one quilt I own that will never be washed!

  13. says

    Excellent post, Amy. And I love all the comments too! I&#39;ve always lived in mortal fear of fabric bleeding so I pre-wash EVERYTHING. (Let&#39;s just say there were a few <i>incidents</i> with clothes when I was younger… the ol&#39; red sock in with the whites type of thing…) I love the tip of the Color Catchers. I&#39;m a huge fan of Shout Wipes, but never really looked at the

  14. says

    I usually add a cup or so of salt to the load when it&#39;s new fabric… but those shot sheets look impressive enough to make me wanna tive them a try! Thanks for the tip!

  15. says

    Where did you find Kona solids at that price? I&#39;m heading to your area in a week or so, and would love to pick up some too!<br />I&#39;m really drawn to solids right now and even have the Kona and Kauffman cotton solid cards up on my design wall.

  16. says

    I always prewash everything. I figure that the small amount of time it takes is worth saving myself the angst of a ruined quilt.<br /><br />(I have never heard of these colour catchers…. maybe they&#39;re not sold here in Australia? I&#39;ll have to look for them the next time O go to the supermarket.)

  17. says

    I don&#39;t always prewash like I used to either. I think it started when I would buy precuts like charm packs and jelly rolls. You can&#39;t really prewash those so that idea of not prewashing spread to my yardage too. I love those color catchers and use them when I wash my quilts too!

  18. says

    Growing up with a serious quilter mother, I learned prewash was the only way… but then she brought home colour catchers to keep my brothers from destroying the laundry. Ever since I havent prewashed any quality fabric. I do, occasionally, soak and set reds or cheap fabric. And I taught my boyfriend to colour catch all the laundry so we can avoid any unfortunate red sock incidents. Colour

  19. says

    I use the color catchers every time I wash a quilt for the first time. Have not had any issues other than a quilt store batik in rust – it ran but I was able to salvage the quilt. I would always was batiks if I bought them again. Thanks for getting this discussion going Amy.

  20. says

    Some times I wash some times I don&#39;t, but I always ,always wash my reds. Sometimes I&#39;ll eve throw a little white vinegar in the rinse cycle to help &quot;hold&quot; the color.

  21. says

    All of my stash is prewashed because I used to make clothes for my kids when they were little. Then recently I bought some jelly rolls and they can&#39;t be washed. I&#39;m still quilting the top but it has pastels and reds so I hope the color catchers do the trick. But it was so nice to work with the precuts that I think I may just buy those and not prewash anymore (because anything that goes in

  22. says

    I only prewash on rare occasions, if I don&#39;t kow the fabrics origin. I think that if you buy good quilt shop fabrics your O.K. I have had people say to me &quot;What will you do if your fabric bleeds when you wash it?&quot; My response–&quot;I&#39;ll make another quilt!&quot;<br />BettyLou

  23. says

    I&#39;ve heard that with modern dyes, unset dye will continue to bleed until it&#39;s all washed out, and that, unlike old-fashioned dyes, vinegar or salt won&#39;t do anything about that loose dye if it didn&#39;t set in the original dyeing process.<br /><br />I prewash everything as soon as I bring it home and before I put it away, but I sew clothing and not quilts, so shrinkage is an issue.

  24. says

    P.S. I&#39;ve always wondered why Shout doesn&#39;t purchase the rights to that song for their ads. &quot;Shout, Shout, get it all out, these are the stains I can do without!&quot; See, I&#39;ve already rewritten the lyrics for them. :)

  25. says

    My mom &amp; gram are/were huge sewers. I&#39;ll have to ask my mom, but I think she prewashes fabric about 1/2 of the time. But she likes to cut corners, so I think she forgets more often than not.<br /><br />PS: Can&#39;t resist the &quot;Shout&quot; out: TFF was one of my all time fave 80&#39;s bands. They are great in concert, too!

  26. says

    75% off!! what a deal! and the color catchers.. love them… even though i usually throw them in when the quilt is done and pray nothing bleeds!

  27. says

    I always the colour catcher sheets, but in one infamous quilt I didn&#39;t – with a result that fortunately made the quilt look &quot;tea dyed&quot; from excess dye in brown fabric. I now not only use it in all my quilts, I also use it with all my colored laundry and with fabric that I am prewashing. Now to come up with a use for the color catcher sheets. Maybe for paper &quot;quilts&quot; on

  28. says

    Thanks for this post!! I just discovered the Shout Color Catchers a few months ago (I know, I know – where have I been?!), and they really do work. I&#39;ve been quilting for years, and grew up sewing my own clothing, so I&#39;ve always prewashed. But, then when I heard that it isn&#39;t necessary anymore, I thought I&#39;d give it a try. But, it did create an issue when I wanted to combine

  29. says

    Thanks so much for the &quot;Shout&quot; advice. I had spent 4 years on a hand appliqued/hand quilted 106×106 quilt and it bled when I removed the marked lines. I do pre-wash and can&#39;t understand why this red fabric bled, BUT the Shout took it all out. My heart has stopped fluttering. Thanks again,

  30. Iquiltsewwhat says

    Thank you for this post and I’m glad there were so many comments, too. I just finished a white quilt with star blocks. It is only my second full sized quilt I’ve finished, so I started it back when I didn’t know cheaper fabrics may mean more color bleed. I am petrified to put it in the washer but I think I will (because who doesn’t love the crinkle?) with Color Catchers AND salt.

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