PRE-WASHING FABRICS: PROS AND CONS
A big debate in the world of quilting is whether or not fabric should be washed before it’s ever used in a quilt. There are many arguments for both. I personally do not pre-wash (was told by my local quilt shop I didn't need to with today's fabrics) unless it is red. Red ALWAYS bleeds regardless of the fabric so I do pre-wash red. Sooooo..........Prewash? Don’t prewash? That is the question! Most quilters seem to have a very definite opinion on the subject. There are many benefits to both options, so let’s take a look at them today.
Arguments FOR prewashing: It prevents vibrant dyes from spreading onto other fabric. Some bright colors, like reds and purples, can run and bleed when they are washed. This can be very devastating if it happens to a finished quilt. When fabrics are washed beforehand, the chance of this happening lessens. Fabric shrinks when it’s washed and dried. When woven together, the fibers of the fabrics are pulled nice and straight, so laundering causes them to either shrink or relax back into their normal shape. This can cause some distortion in a finished quilt if the items have not been previously washed before they were cut and sewn. Any sizing or chemicals that have been used on the fabric are removed before the fabric is used. This is especially beneficial to those who have sensitive skin.
Arguments AGAINST prewashing: The amount of shrinkage really isn’t that bad. Yes, it’s still there, but it creates the cozy, crinkly effect many quilters desire. With today’s quality fabrics and dye, bleeding is not much of an issue. Most manufacturers realize that a vast amount of quilters do not prewash, so they ensure that the dyes are set completely. Brand new fabric has sizing, creating a nice crisp material. This creates ease when cutting and piecing. Once the sizing is washed out, the fabric loses that crispness. Prewashing takes too much time! Plenty of quilters prefer to spend their precious crafting time cutting and sewing, not prewashing. When creating quilts that aren’t often used, like wall hangings and heirloom quilts, prewashing is unnecessary. The fabrics remain sharp, vibrant, and smooth