I have noticed that some people always pre-wash quilt fabric, but others refuse to pre-wash. What do you prefer to do? Haven’t made up your mind yet? I’ll explore the pros and cons of each, and then walk you through steps of pre-washing your quilt fabric.
Pros of Pre-Washing Quilt Fabric
- Pre-shrink the fabric (so it doesn’t shrink later, after your quilt is finished)
- Set the fabric dyes (so the colors don’t run after your quilt is finished)
- Prevent a crinkly look on your finished quilt
Note: Some charity quilt organizations, such as Quilts of Valor, request that you pre-wash your quilt fabric. If you’re making a quilt for a charity organization, remember to pre-wash all of your quilt fabric.
Cons of Pre-Washing Quilt Fabric
You won’t want to pre-wash fabric if:
- You’re using a combination of yardage and pre-cuts (layer cakes, jelly rolls, etc.). Pre-cuts were not pre-washed, so if you make a quilt with a combination pre-shrunk and not-pre-shrunk fabric, in the end, you’ll get a half-shrunken look that you will not like.
- You like the crinkly look – this look only happens when quilt fabric is not washed until the quilt is finished.
Materials Needed to Pre-Wash Quilt Fabric:
- Washer & dryer
- Color catcher
- Mesh laundry bag (for color catcher, if you’re using a top-load washer)
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric you’re pre-washing
Steps to Pre-Wash Quilt Fabric:
- Wash several pieces of fabric at a time, if you can.
- Separate fabric into colors if you have a lot (reds should be washed separately, though the color catcher helps prevent bleeding).
- Open each piece of fabric and place in the washing machine.
- Put them in the washing machine loosely.
- Add the color catcher (in a mesh laundry bag if it’s a top-load washer – this is because the color catcher is small enough to get caught in the washer’s corners and cause problems).
- Add detergent.
- Run the washer on a normal, warm cotton load.
- When the washer is done, remove the fabric one at a time.
- Shake each piece of fabric open (break strings if you have to).
- Place each piece of fabric in the dryer, loosely.
- If there aren’t many pieces of fabric (1 or 2), put another item (like a clean T-shirt) into the dryer to make sure the fabric tumbles like it should.
- When the dryer is done, remove from dryer.
- Trim strings from the edges of the fabric and fold.
- Iron the fabric (with starch, if you want) before cutting for quilting.