Wash your Fabric
There has always been a debate about the need for pre-washing fabrics for quilting. Here are three reasons to pre wash your fabrics.
1. You want to remove the sizing, which makes the fabric look pressed and pretty on the bolt but can resist the needle for hand quilting.
2. Most fabrics shrink 2-3%. Some will shrink more and some less. The bottom line is… do you really want all of your pieced or appliqued fabrics shrinking at different rates the first time your finished quilt is washed?
3. Dyes running is not as big a problem as it used to be, but it still happens on occasion. Any excess dye on the fabric is removed with the first wash. The new batiks and some of the imported fabrics may have this problem and you want to find out before you spend a lot of time working with them (Here’s a tip: if you get colour on your hands (called “crocking”) as you are working with a fabric, definitely prewash it.)
Wash like colours together in cold water with a small amount of the soap that you plan to use to wash the finished quilt. (We strongly recommend Orvus Quilt Soap, liquid wash) Remove the washed fabric from the machine, give it a gentle shake and place it in the dryer with
a dry hand towel. (We have found that this is the perfect size towel. It absorbs the water quickly from the fabric, decreases the drying time significantly, and it prevents the fabric from tying itself into a knot.)
Wash your Finished Quilt
Fill the washing machine with tepid water. Dissolve a teaspoon of Orvus Quilt Soap liquid wash in the water flow as it fills the tub of the machine. Usually a teaspoon is sufficient. This is a case where “less is more”. You only want to be aggressive enough to remove the dirt from the quilt. Submerge the quilt in the water and let the machine go through the gentle cycle. We love to hang our quilts outside in the shade to dry. Hang a clean sheet over the line or the deck rail, lay the quilt on the sheet for an hour on each side. Toss the quilt in the dryer to remove the last of the dampness and to “soften” it up again. It is recommended that older, or more fragile quilts be laid flat to dry. Do not dry clean your quilts. Dry cleaning chemicals may affect the integrity of colour and fabric quality.
Antique quilts are another story altogether. You may not know if the fabrics were pre washed or if any of the dyes will run when the quilt gets wet. It is always best to seek the advice of a professional before you do anything to a family antique!