Have you ever asked the question, “Should I pre-wash the fabrics going into my quilt?”
How about, “Is it OK to wash a quilt with machine embroidered appliqué on it?”
I’ve made quilts that have been in the washing machine, embroidered appliqué and all, and they come out just fine. For those quilts that are meant to be used and loved, washing is part of their life cycle.
I don’t usually pre-wash any of my fabric. However, I have a queen size quilt that I plan on making in the near future (can you believe that after 9 years of earning a living as a quilt designer, I still don’t have a quilt on my bed?) and I had an experience last week that got me thinking – do I pre-wash the fabric or not?
So what’s the story?
Last Monday I flew to Orlando. I had been invited to attend the Brother Back To Business Convention – and I must say it was wonderful to be back meeting people and seeing some old friends again, after over 2 years of very limited travelling. I flew home on Wednesday, with what was supposed to be a less than 2 hours layover in Houston.
Now I was travelling with a whole bunch of quilts packed into my suitcase – which is a a hard plastic shell with a zipper. You’d like to think it would be pretty waterproof. Apparently not! And guess where my suitcase was during the rainstorm? I’m thinking it was sitting right out on the tarmac having been unloaded from one plane and onroute to being loaded onto the connecting flight.
It turns out that the zipper is the weak link. The things that were close to the zipper on the side that got wet – got wet in the suitcase 🙁
It seems that The Spectacle-R View is a quilt that needs to be seen in person to appreciate – sooo many people said, ” I LOVE that quilt! So much fun!!!”.
What do you do when a quilt is half wet?
For both the Butterfly pillow and the Spectacle-R View quilt, the wet patches were noticeable (to me!). So I decided to throw them in the washing machine for a gentle wash. The Rejoice! quilt went in too – it’s been on the sofa in the living room since it was finished, being sat on, snuggled in and loved!
Now we get to what I really want to show you – some before wash and some after wash photos.
Now it turns out that both the Rejoice! quilt and the Spectacle-R View quilts were quilted using designs from the Rejoice! Quilting Collection. Nice to be able to compare apples with apples! Both quilts also use Michael Miller Fairy Frost fabric for all the appliqué shapes. They also both have the same batting in them – Quilters Dream Orient. Where they differ is that the Rejoice! quilt uses Michael Miller Fairy Frost fabric for the background while The Spectacle-R View quilt uses Moda Grunge fabric for the background.
Rejoice! quilt before and after washing
The left side shows the Rejoice! quilt BEFORE it was washed.
The right side shows the Rejoice! quilt AFTER it was washed (the color didn’t change, just the lighting for taking the photo. In real life, the colors after washing are still as vibrant and beautiful as the colors before washing).
What struck me is that – despite no pre-washing – the Fairy Frost doesn’t look a whole lot different after washing than it did before. There’s still beautiful texture, but no wrinkling or distortion. It’s also still nice and soft.
Spectacle-R View quilt before and after washing
The left side shows the Spectacle-R View quilt BEFORE it was washed.
The right side shows the Spectacle-R View quilt AFTER it was washed.
The Moda Grunge fabric did take on a new personality in the wash! There’s a LOT more texture to the quilting, and it is quite a bit more wrinkled now than it was before. I don’t think it’s either good nor bad – just different.
Fairy Frost vs. Grunge after washing
Fairy Frost is on the left; Moda Grunge is on the right.
Which one would you choose?
Do you pre-wash your fabric – or not? If so, what are your tips for success? Leave me a comment below!