Last week I talked about conducting an experiment comparing the whole process of making a quilt with pre-washed fabric and fabric that has not been pre-washed. Historically I am not a pre-washer, but the question always comes up when talking with quilters and it really got me wondering so I decided to conduct an experiment where I make two mini quilts with the same fabrics and compare the experience with fabric that has been pre-washed and fabric that has not been pre-washed. Today’s post is all about prepping the fabrics for sewing.
The pattern I’ve chosen for the mini quilts is this one here. It should be pretty simple as the most complicated thing is the half-square triangles.
I pulled my fabrics for both of the minis. Again they will be identical so all the fabrics came from my stash, and are by Lori Holt for Riley Blake, the are a mix from Bee Basics and Sew Cherry 2. The only difference is the fabric I will use for the binding, for the pre-washed mini the fabric will be red and for the other mini the binding fabric is aqua, but they are the same print (this is mainly due to limitations of my stash and I didn’t want to buy fabric).
Next up I washed one of the bundles of fabric. To do this, I placed the print fabrics in a lingerie bag so I wouldn’t have to deal with threads catching around the machine agitator, I did the same for the solid white fabric but washed it separately. I washed everything in cold water with the standard, unscented detergent for those of us who have sensitive skin. After washing I also dried the fabrics in the dryer still in the lingerie bag.
I will say, that using the lingerie bag kept the fabrics from getting tangled up with each other so that was a win! Once everything was out of the dryer, I sprayed the pre-washed fabric thoroughly with Best Press and let them all air dry before I ironed them. For the fabrics that were not pre-washed I did the same thing.
For each of the fabrics I lined up the selvage edges to compare shrinkage.
I won’t show you all the fabrics, but the results were pretty consistent. On the warp side (parallel to the selvedge), the fabric shrunk 7/8″ to 1″ and on the weft side (perpendicular to the selvedge), the fabric shrunk 1/4″ to 1/2″. This resulted in no more than a 5% shrinkage rate. Which I thought was pretty fair as I’ve read that cotton can shrink up to 10%. It will be interesting to see if there is more shrinkage at the end of the experiment when I wash the finished project which I intend to do.
At this stage of the process the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that the pre-washed fabrics are much easier to iron and the folds and creases that occur from fabrics being on the bolt are gone. I’ll be honest, I really liked that as ironing did not feel like a chore for the pre-washed fabrics. With the fabrics that were not pre-washed I felt like I was fighting the iron and the fabric.
In an effort to keep this from being too long I will post soon about how the cutting process is impacted by pre-washing. Stay tuned!
In other business… the winner of the Alpine Ice Bundle from Island Batik Fabrics is Beth T. who said… As a quilter, I love to quilt for rainy season, when we snuggle under quilts. As a Pacific Northwesterner, that is all yearlong except for about six weeks in summertime.
Congratulations Beth… enjoy your new fabric!