A common question asked on many sewing forums is whether or not to pre-wash your fabric.
I was chatting to my mother in law today (she is an amazing quilter) about her preference. Barb said that although all teachers recommend that you should, she nor any of her quilting friends actually do. They argue that if you use a high quality 100% cotton fabric with 100% cotton thread (top and bottom) all shrinkage of quilt will be equal. When the quilting stage is being completed the backing is stretched on rods to prevent puckering. It is also very common amongst quilters to like the softness look of a washed quilt with a small amount of shrinkage and puckering.Cintia from My Poppet who also has her own label almost always washes. Cintia has a number of reasons why she does and some of them include:
- I usually buy/find vintage fabrics that have been in an op-shop, garage or some other not very clean place that smells like damp so it is necessary to wash just for hygiene sake.
- Shrinkage. Most cottons shrink about 4%, sometimes more depending on the quality. It would be a shame to spend a ton of time making a garment that doesn't fit after 1 wash. Shrinkage is also important if you are making bias binding from the fabric, nothing looks yuckier than a puckered binding edge.
- Excess dye. Depending on the fabric quality, you may get dye run during washing. Usually worse with dark colours and reds. A quick rinse cycle may get rid of excess dye that can run into other fabrics in your project. HINT:about a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener compartment will help prevent excess dye run.
- Chemical residue. It is an unfortunate reality that chemicals are used to make fabrics easier to print on and wrinkle less. Handling and storing lots of unwashed fabric with these chemicals on, can't be a good thing.
So do you pre-wash?