The Professionals Share Their Secrets – Part 2

Sewing and Quilting Basics- Q & A Professional Artists

We wanted to ask some professional artists in the sewing and quilting world to give us their tips and tricks/advice on a list of questions that will help to benefit all of the beginning and intermediate quilt artists out there.  Our goal is to post one question per week, so all artists reading can join in on the conversation and feel free to leave a comment.

Fabric Pre-Washing

We are now on Part 2 of our series on quilting basics. You won’t want to miss any parts of this series- it’s going to be stuffed with great advice from some of our favorite professional artists and will help anyone wanting to improve their artwork.

Part 2 of 10:


Now that you have read Part 1 and know which fabric you want to use the question is:  To Wash or Not to Wash? Will the reds, blues and other colors bleed? What is your take on pre-washing your fabrics?

Terry white

Terry White: I pre-wash EVERYTHING! If the reds and purples, blues, blacks or browns bleed you want them doing it before you put them into a quilt. My reasons:
1. Fabrics have chemicals including sizing, finishing and dyes which can result in skin allergies appearing over time.
2.The finishing can mask a poor quality fabric. If after washing your fabric it comes out without having much body or color left then it might not have been as nicely woven as you had originally thought. Also, it may shrink a little and you want this to happen before you put your lovely work into it. 3. Various weights and thread counts of different fabrics will stitch better together.

Leslie Tucker JenisonLeslie Tucker Jenison: When I began quilting a million years ago I always pre-washed my fabric. I was warned against colors running, shrinkage and more.
These days, I use both commercial and hand-dyed (by me) cloth. By the time I have finished the process on my hand-dyed cloth it has been pre-washed multiple times to remove the excess dye and/or print paste. I know beyond a that my cloth is not going to bleed or shrink because my final wash is always in hot water!
I do not make many bed quilts so I rarely pre-wash my fabrics. However, if I plan to make a quilt that I know will be laundered, such as a baby quilt, and I am concerned about the dye stability in the cloth, I pre-wash.

Ruth Chandler Ruth Chandler: I always wash my fabrics. I wash them in detergent with no color or scent and I always use Synthrapol. This keeps the dyes from attaching to the fabrics being washed, plus it can be found in many fabric stores for a reasonable cost. Since reds and blues are especially bad for bleeding, even after pre-washing, so I’ve made it my practice when washing my quilts to use the Synthrapol every time. Lastly, I prefer cutting the edges of my fabric with a wave blade rotary cutter or a pair of pinking shears to help lessen raveling in the washer.

Jamie Fingal

Jamie Fingal: I almost had to laugh as I was reading this question- I don’t pre-wash anything!

This is because my quilts, which are mainly made for hanging up on a wall, are never going to be washed.

On the back label, I typically will ass the words, “DO NOT WASH.”

Liz KettleLiz Kettle: I used to pre-wash everything. Now since my work has changed my need to pre-wash has also changed. Besides that, who can stand waiting to have to wash, dry and iron that fabric? I always want to get right to it.
The majority of my work is for the wall and will never be washed, so I don’t worry about pre-washing. Even for the quilts I make that will be washed I still don’t pre-wash.
I am willing to take the risk rather than take the time to pre-wash.


For more information on our featured artists click here.

Now that the pros have spilled their best advice on fabric selection, we want to know what you think! What’s your opinion? They seem to be almost split down the middle on their preferences. Do you have any helpful advice or tips that we could all benefit from? Check back next Thursday for the next part in our series with the pros!

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