It seems that the question about pre-washing comes up a lot when discussing quilting. Just a few months ago, I was talking with my offline friend Cathy who was interested in quilting and we got together so she could get some questions answered to get her started. Of course one of those questions was whether I pre-wash fabrics or not.
When I first started quilting, about 20 years ago, I took advice from my local quilt shop and pre-washed everything. Even if the fabric was cut for a kit. My friends and I would get together for a sew day and we would boil those little pieces of fabric in a pot on the stove. Well that got old pretty fast. So I decided to gamble and try a quilt without pre-washing. The gamble paid off, no color ran and I liked the pucker that happened from the small amount of shrinkage.
But my conversation with Cathy got me thinking, what are the differences in the process of making a quilt when you pre-wash fabric vs. not pre-washing fabric. Quilters are well aware of the shrinkage that occurs when you don’t pre-wash fabric, but does it affect how the fabric cuts or comes together when piecing, or even the quilting process?
So my plan is to make two identical mini quilts, use the same fabric, thread and batting. I am going to pre-wash the fabric for one mini quilt and not the other. I am going to compare each step of the process and the final outcome. Maybe my mind will be changed on the subject. Stay tuned.