To Prewash Fabrics or Not?!
Which do you do or do you use fabric both ways? When I first started making quilts I didn't know about pre-washing. I learned several years later that cotton fabrics CAN and will bleed/run in the wash. We all know that reds are notorious for bleeding and black fabrics can be just as bad!
What can you do if you participate in a block exchange, where different people makes blocks and you exchange them to make your own quilt? I have some suggestions but first a little background on how I know what to do.
I participated in one exchange back in the late 1990's. It was an Ohio Star Christmas themed exchange. The exchange was organized by a woman named Sue Anderson who lived in Minnesota. We were part of a group that all sewed with and loved Janome sewing machines.
Fast forward to receiving my blocks and making a wall hanging out of them. It was great with so many different fabrics used in the blocks. I had some trouble choosing a sashing that would go with all of the blocks and finally settled on a plaid. I hung this quilt in my dining room until we redecorated and it clashed with the new paint color. That's when I ran into running fabric, yup you guessed it, I threw it in the wash.....ouch. Many of the reds bled into the cream background fabrics. I was upset and didn't know what to do so I put the quilt away.
Yesterday I pulled that Ohio Star quilt out figuring that I had nothing to lose by washing it again. The arrival of Shout Color Catchers in my world has been a boon so why not try it even though the dyes had run and been set by the dryer. I liberally doused the offending red bleeds with Zout stain remover, threw an old towel in the washer along with 2 Shout Color Catcher sheets, which I tore in half to spread them around the quilt. I set the washer to warm/cold, heavy duty and let it go. Whew! Success! I took the quilt out and no more bleeding the color catchers had absorbed a lot of red dye!
Here's a photo of the freshly washed, no running dye Ohio Star quilt-
So now you know how I saved my quilt. Your best option is to always pre-wash or test your fabrics. If you receive blocks in an exchange hand wash them if you need to check for colorfastness. I usually toss in at least one Shout Color Catcher with bright colors, it will absorb any loose dyes and show you if they run or not.
These are the Color Catcher's that came out of the washer with the quilt-amazing isn't it?
By the way I am not affiliated with Shout or Zout in any way, I just think that they are good products in my experience.