Recently I purchased material for two charm square swaps. I don't know what I was thinking!!! I came home from the fabric shop, cut out my squares and went right to the post office and mailed them out.  Now I always wash my fabric before I use it but I was so excited about participating in the fabric swap I just did not think about it. The squares I had left I threw in the machine with some other fabric I had purchased. When I was ironing the fabric I noticed that the charm squares were a problem. One of the batiks raveled, and one of the other colors shrank. What was a 5" square became a 4" X 5" square after it was washed and dried. Needless to say I was horrified. I had no idea that this would happen. Not only am I concerned about the recipients of my squares, but I have 40 squares coming that I won't be able to wash and dry. Has anyone else experienced this? I am always concerned about fabrics bleeding into the other colors which is why I prewash all of my fabric. I feel so bad about this. I would appreciate some feed back about this.  The concerned Antique Quilter signing off.

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Comment by sue brigle on October 29, 2013 at 9:53am

Ethelda is probably right, no one else is pre-washing either, so don't worry about it and just enjoy the swap.

Comment by Monica Schmidt on October 29, 2013 at 7:31am

Linda, I teach beginning quilters, and I always warn them to be careful with cotton fabrics. Cotton fabric ALWAYS shrinks (about 3% I think), it always frays at the edges when washed, & you NEVER know if it is color stable unless you test it. I always test mine in hot tap water in the sink before I put it in the washing machine, then dry it on hot to get all the shrinkage out. Someone told me that some inexpensive flannels need to be preshrunk multiple times to get all the shrinkage out, but I only wash/dry fabrics once. I purchase an extra 1" of fabric per yard that I need, just to allow for shrinkage. You can use Fray-Chek or No-Fray on the edges of precut fabrics to avoid the problem with fraying during the initial wash cycle.

For fabrics that are not color stable in (hot) water, I have tried white vinegar in water (1 cup per gallon), or a salt water solution, or a product by Ritz dye company that is a dye fixative or stabilizer. Usually one of these methods will work, and the Ritz product has worked when the others failed.

I know that prewashing, ironing and sometimes starching fabric is time consuming. But making a quilt is an investment in time, and properly preparing your fabrics is a down-payment that pays off later by preventing many potential problems if your quilt ever needs cleaning or gets wet. Someone in my guild had a backing fabric bleed through to the front of her art quilt, when she was using a damp cloth on the top to remove the marked lines that she used for quilting.

Comment by Chef Lisa on October 28, 2013 at 4:29pm

Linda well the first suggestion would be to never cut your fabric before you wash it, it always will fray.

It is a nice thing to wash if you like that but the new dyes now are actually really good, so I am not sure where you bought your fabric but they should not bleed. The process of Batiks: the fabric is placed in a boiling water bath to remove the wax. All of the dye will have been cooked out by the time the wax has been removed. I am suggesting you not buy from that place again.

Years ago reds were a bleeder but the manufactures have fixed that. I bough Jenny Beyer fabric years ago and the red bleed, so I just kept soaking it in vinegar to get all of the loose dye out. It took several times to get the water clear. You can also get Synthrapol detergent for hand dyed fabrics, I think you can get it at Joann fabrics or on line.

Comment by Ethelda Hillsman on October 28, 2013 at 2:59pm
Linda, no worries on the fabric bleeding in your finished quilt-- there is a product made by "Shout" called Color Catcher. ( they are small paper-like sheets) You find it in the laundry product aisle. They are fabulous. Put 2 or 3 in with your quilt the first time it is washed and the little sheets collect all of the excess dye. No colors will bleed onto the others. As for shrinkage I don't have a solution for you, but don't think anyone else is prewashing either.

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