Saturday, April 6, 2013

Should I Pre-wash My Fabric?

 NO!  You do not need to pre-wash your fabrics. This is a much debated topic in the quilting world, so we thought we'd give you our opinion today.  A couple months ago we were at the fabric store purchasing fabrics for this kaleidoscope quilt. The lady at the cutting counter saw our bright collection of fabrics and started to laugh. Then she made some comment about how hard it would be to pre-wash all of our fabrics. We just smiled and thought...pre-washing? what's that? Okay, we know what pre-washing is, but we just never do it :)

So why do people pre-wash fabric anyway? Fabric shrinks once it is washed, so pre-washing fabrics prevents your quilt from shrinking after it is complete. We personally don't mind the shrinking (about 2-3 per side)  because it gives the quilt that crinkly look that we love. If you have this in mind before you make a quilt, it will help you to realize that your quilt will shrink...and there will be no surprises when your quilt is smaller after that first wash.

Secondly,  another common concern relating to pre-washing is the bleeding of the fabric dyes. We've never had a problem with the front fabrics bleeding onto each other. Never.  The problems occur when you have a dark back for your quilt. The quilt pictured above is an example of the consequences of not pre-washing the back. The dark red back bled onto the white fabric on the front of the quilt and turned it a light pink color. Lesson learned: pre-wash all dark backing fabric. So, pre-wash dark backing fabric and make sure to take into consideration the shrink factor by buying a little extra.

To sum it all up, it is not necessary to pre-wash fabric UNLESS you are using a dark fabric for the back of your quilt.


  1. I don't pre-wash either! And the first time I wash a quil in the washing machine, I pop a colour catcher in and that seems to do the trick!

  2. Great post! I totally agree with not pre-wash the front because we also use pre-cuts sometimes. Shout color catchers sheets also help when you're washing the quilt /fabric for the first time.

  3. I prewash any dark fabrics, especially batiks - the rest don't seem to bleed. IMHO.

  4. Believe me, if you ever worked in a fabric store, you would wash everything.

  5. Thanks for the explanation! Many quilters, especially those who are just starting out, often get confused if they have to pre-wash or otherwise. And since you made it clear on why there’s no need for pre-washing, it would be easy for them to decide which option is better for their articles. Cheers!

    Blanca Douglas @ Safe Cleaning by Guardsman

  6. What a relief! I'm really having a hard time contemplating that matter as well, but thanks to you, I now have a precise answer. Hahaha! Thank you so much for informing us that we need not pre-wash our quilts, unless they're black. Hahaha! Good going, and all the best!

    Courtney Morris @ Onyx Cleaning



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