Every once in a while the question comes up, and now seems to be a good time to address it again, especially with so many rich, vibrant colors found in today’s fabric collections. Concerns about dye loss or possible color migration can increase when you’re blending deep reds with light ground coordinates, similar to those found in found in A PRAIRIE GATHERING by Pam Buda.
We chatted with Pam about her preferences and best practices for pre-treating quilt fabrics. She routinely tells her students & quilting friends:
“I never wash my fabric. I actually add a lot of sizing to my yardage to make it stiffer before I cut anything out, so washing would remove the sizing already in the fabric from the manufacturing process, and I add more.” (Pam firmly believe that sizing and adding the extra body/stiffness aids tremendously with everything from cutting, piecing, and pressing, making your piecing more accurate!) “That said, when my reds are wet with the sizing (and I really saturate the fabric with sizing!) I have not had any issues with the red, or any other color, running. In all the years I have been quilting with quilt shop quality fabrics, I have never once had an issue with dye running,” she explains.
The decision to pre-wash fabric or not is largely a personal preference that could depend in part on what you’re making with the fabric. A quilt that will be used and washed often should probably be made with pre-washed fabrics, while a decorative wall hanging can be made with non-washed fabric.
Thankfully, there are so many fabrications and production methods available to quilters today, including batiks and hand-dyed fabrics! So, like Pam, we always advise taking the time to do a wash test whenever you are in doubt. Marcus’ standard for overall quality speaks for itself over the years, including colorfastness, as Pam can attest to since she began designing with us. There are products like Retayne and Dye Catcher if you’re concerned about running. Check out Pam’s impressive wash-test results – no dyes were released in the wash, as shown by the completely clean color catcher sheet after laundering. As you probably know, deep reds like these are notorious for at least some color loss in laundering.
What are your tricks and tips for pre-treating your quilting fabrics? Do you, or don’t you? Like Pam, I’m not inclined to pre-wash. But I might for a baby quilt, to remove any lingering chemicals or finishes on the fabric before it comes into contact with the baby (of course, I don’t sew many baby quilts…). So again, the circumstances will help to dictate your pre-washing decisions.
Thanks for the photos, Pam! —— lisa s