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Prewashing Fabric – Is it Necessary?

To Prewash or Not... That Is the Question

by Beth Cooper
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Let’s answer the age-old question:  Which came first?  The color orange or the fruit orange?  Did someone name the fruit because of the color?  Or did someone name the color because of the fruit?  Hmmm.  Deep questions.  Here’s another one:  should I prewash my fabric before starting a quilt?  Or not?  Does it even matter?  Betty and Wilma are two typical quilters, on opposite sides of the prewash debate.  Let’s see what they think.

Betty:  I always prewash my fabrics before I start a quilt!  It’s very important!  It keeps my fabric from bleeding onto my quilt later. 

Wilma:  Oh Betty, save yourself some time and just throw a Color Catcher in with your quilt when you wash it for the first time. You can find those on the laundry aisle at the store.  There’s no need to prewash!  Plus, I buy quality fabric and it rarely bleeds.

Betty:  I prewash for other reasons too.  Prewashing allows the fabric to shrink before I quilt it, not after.  Then, my quilt always looks nice and smooth.  If I didn’t prewash, the fabric would shrink the first time I washed the quilt and my quilt would look all crinkled up.

Wilma:  I love that crinkled up look!  That’s my favorite thing.  They’re so cozy when they are crinkly. 

Betty:  You should prewash to get all the chemicals out of the fabric!

Wilma:  I like the chemicals.  They work like starch and keep my fabric stiffer and make it easier to piece.

Betty:  I have sensitive skin. Getting those chemicals out is important to me.

Wilma:  I understand.  If I had an allergy, I would prewash it for sure.  You surely don’t prewash your precuts though, do you?

Betty:  Oh, heavens no.  You should never prewash a precut.  They will shrink and get all wonky. 

Wilma:  I just don’t have time to prewash.  I’m in too big of a hurry to cut into my fabric and get started sewing.  Plus, if you prewash, it takes way longer to press it all.  No thanks, honey.

Betty:  I have all the time in the world and enjoy washing and pressing my fabric.  Prewashing is so easy.  I just throw like-colors into my washer and wash it just like I would if it was a finished quilt.  It always washes up beautifully. Oh, and I always put a little bit of Retayne in every load.  It helps keep the dye where it is supposed to be and prevents bleeding.

Wilma:  I have to say that your quilts always look beautiful.

Betty:  Well, so do yours!

Wilma:  So, I guess it really doesn’t matter at all about prewashing.  It’s just a matter of preference.

Betty:  I guess so. 

Wilma:  Have you checked the Daily Deal yet today on Missouri Star?

Betty:  Not yet!  Race you to the computer!

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