Finishing the Quilts in the Pre-Washing Series…

quiltn party

Finishing the Quilts in the Pre-Washing Series…

To Michelle,

In the previous post about Pre-Washing, I finished piecing the quilt tops for the pre-washed and not pre-washed minis.

To prep the quilt tops for quilting, I made a quilt sandwich using basting spray to adhere the 3 layers together (pre-washed fabric on the left with the red fabric that will be used for binding). In my experience, it seemed easier to put the quilt sandwich together with the pre-washed fabric as the pre-washed fabric seemed to cling to the batting more than the fabric that was not pre-washed. I also made sure I had a brand new needle in my machine. For both minis I used mid-loft Quilter’s Dream Cotton for the batting.

I quilted the pre-washed mini first. While I was quilting the quilt sandwich I didn’t really notice anything particular. I opened up my  machine and it was clean, I didn’t find any lint build up.

When I quilted the mini where the fabric was not-pre-washed, I notice that it seemed to be a little easier as the foot moved across the fabric much easier. I assume this was because of the sizing that was still in the fabric  as it makes the fabric more slippery. When I opened up my machine, I did find a small amount of lint but nothing to really be alarmed about. I also noticed when I took the photo of the mini where the fabric was not pre-washed. I still preferred the look of the fabric that was not pre-washed after it was quilted.


I made the binding and machine stitched the binding to the mini and hand stitched the binding to the back of each  mini. At this point, both minis are 20 1/2″ square. I did notice that I had more resistance against my needle when hand stitching the binding on the pre-washed mini that slowed down my progress a little bit.


When both minis were finished I washed and dried each one separately with a Color Catcher. There was no residual dye on either of the Color Catchers which speaks favorably to the quality of the fabrics that I used for this experiment. Here  is what I found most interesting; before washing, each mini measured 20 1/2″ square. After washing, the mini with the pre-washed fabric measured 19 3/4″ x 20″. This is another 3% – 3.5% rate of shrinkage. The mini with the fabric that was not pre-washed measured 19.5″ square. This is a shrinkage rate of 5%.

I’m so happy that I conducted this experiment, I hope it has been informative. I wonder if any of the results I experienced have been a surprise to you or if they have influenced you on your decision to pre-wash or not. As for me, it really comes down to what the finished product looks like. Regardless of the benefits of pre-washing, I really like the finished product when the fabric is not pre-washed. I have also been lucky in that I’ve never had an issue with color bleeding. Maybe if that happens to me I will change my mind in the future but for now I am going to continue to not pre-wash.

7 thoughts on “Finishing the Quilts in the Pre-Washing Series…

  1. billiemick

    Great post!

  2. Jen

    Thanks so much for doing the work and sharing the results of your experiment! I think I’m going to continue to not pre-wash my fabric. It seems more trouble than it’s worth and I’ve never had a problem with colors bleeding when I wash my finished quilts (except an unfortunate incident where the thread ran, not the fabric…a different problem).

  3. Peg

    I have pre-washed my fabric for years but I always spray starched the top before quilting. I prefer to sew with the pre-washed but I do love all those pre-cuts.

  4. debbierhodes

    I like that the not pre washed shrunk evenly it appears the ore washed was out of square afterwards.

  5. Cathy

    Thank you! I really appreciate you doing this experiment! What a great blog on your results, so much detail and oh so much to learn.

  6. Lisa

    I’m pre washing less than I used to but I mostly pre wash because I want to remove the chemicals used in fabric processing. I just pre washed a dark purple Kona with some dark blue solids of another brand because I thought the purple might bleed but it didn’t . The colour catcher came out clean.

  7. allisonreidnem

    Thank for sharing this very interesting comparison. I tend to pre-wash but not when using pre-cuts. As you point out the quality of the fabrics used is a key factor and makes me think that pre-washing isn’t essential re. dye running or shrinkage if the fabrics are good quality quilting ones. I never pre-wash wadding/batting. Do you?

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