Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My First Major CRAFT FAIL or To Pre-Wash or Not to Pre-Wash

I'll admit it.

I rarely pre-wash my fabric before sewing it.

There. Now you know one of my dirty little secrets.

Call me lazy, call me a fool, but I don't do it about 90% of the time.

It slows me down! I want to be able to pick my fabric, bring it home, and use it. Not pick it, bring it home, wait for 90 minutes while it washes and dries, THEN use it. I live in the boondocks. That's like, 2 hours of waiting if I go straight home after purchasing my fabrics. I don't want to wait that long!!

But at what cost do I feed the need for this instant gratification?

Pictured above is the very first quilt that I ever made. It's about 10 years old.

I didn't pre-wash any of the fabrics that I used to make it. When I was done sewing it together, I used it for a little while and eventually washed it in a regular old household washing machine. As you can see, from a distance the quilt looks fine. Even decent for a beginner, right?

How about we take a closer look at some of those squares...

See that? The red that I used for the outer trim pieces bled onto the other fabrics. And it bled like crazy. All over the blanket with splotches of red and pink everywhere.

I'll never forget that day when I pulled my prized quilt out of the dryer--I almost cried.

It was RUINED!!

Okay, so it wasn't ruined. In fact, I have used it quite a bit since that day and have grown to appreciate the blotches of red rather than loathe them. But that's exactly how I felt when I pulled it out of the washing machine that day. Ruined.

And all I would have had to do was pre-wash the fabric to prevent this...right?

Oh, my friends, if it were only that easy.

In the 10 years that I've owned this blanket, I have washed it many times. And each time the red bleeds a little bit more. It's not nearly as bad as that first wash, but it still happens. I put the blanket into the wash and it comes out just a little bit different every time. It's like Christmas, I tell you.

So is just pre-washing the fabric going to save you?
Sometimes, yes.

Nothing in life is certain, though. We all know this.

So I throw caution to the wind most of the time and use these two tips for when to pre-wash:
1) Always pre-wash fabrics that have colors on them that bleed more easily than others, like red.
2) When the finished product needs to be square or measure to a specific size so there's no room for shrinkage (like pillowcases and garments), pre-wash.

It has worked for me for the most part. I guess that's obvious since I only have pictures of the one quilt to show you, huh? It just seemed like a good phrase to close with. :)

Do you have any tips for fabrics with bleeding color or to prevent colors from bleeding in the first place?

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