Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fabric Prep and Some Light Reading

A few people asked if there was anything they needed to do to get their fabric ready for the quilt along.   The million dollar question...

To wash, or not to wash, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The possible shrinkage of outrageous fabric,
Or to take arms against a sea of bleeding dyes,
And by washing end them? 

I crack myself up.  :)  But really do you need to wash your fabric?

Some say yes because of shrinkage (1-2%), to remove chemicals and to protect against bleeding

Some say no because, if none of your fabrics are washed they will shrink evenly, the chemicals can help protect fabrics left on the shelf for long periods of time and make the fabric easier to work with and good quality fabrics rarely if ever bleed, so why bother washing?

I personally land on the "no washing" side.  I have never experienced bleeding or shrinking so I really don't worry about it.  I like to jump into a project and washing and the subsequent ironing (I hate to iron) just slow me down.   However, I would be sure to wash hand dyed fabrics and red fabric from a non-designer fabric source.  At the bottom of this post are links to some basic quilting posts and some of them deal with the washing debate if you want more information.

I would make sure your fabric is relatively wrinkle free.  There will always be some creases from being folded, but you might want to take some time to iron your fabric if it has been sitting in a ball in the bottom of your scrap bin.  :)

Also, take a look at your sewing machine.  Lift up the metal plate under the needle and clean out all that lint.  Give your machine a good oil and if you haven't changed your needle in a while put on a fresh one.  It is amazing how much better your machine will run if it is lint free, has been oiled and has a new needle.

The first block of the sampler will be posted Friday morning (eeee!) and I will go over how to make the blocks baby step by baby step.  If you want to do some background reading, here is a list of great posts on basic quilt making skills.

Quilt Class 101 - Fabric
Quilt Class 101 - Cutting
Quilt Class 101 - Guest Post, To Wash or Not to Wash?
Stitched in Color - Fabric Care (pro washing)
Stitched in Color - Rotary Cutting
Skill Builder Series - Fabric (grain, washing vs no wash and ironing vs pressing)
Skill Builder Series - 1/4 Inch Seams (how to cut and sew accurately)
Skill Builder Series - Seam Ripping (I'm sure we won't need this, but just in case...)
Do You Have a Happy Machine? (basic sewing machine care)

You might notice that different quilters have different ideas of how to care for fabric, cut and sew.  That is to be expected and is ok.  At the end of the day if your quilt is warm and isn't falling apart at the seams you have done a good job.  :)

I'll see you on Friday with our first block!!


  1. Sew excited! Sorry couldn't help myself! : D

  2. I agree, no need to wash. It's a pain, ironing stinks, and who cares if it shrinks 1%? Use high quality fabric and it will turn out great!

  3. I can't wait to start!! I think I'm only going to prewash my fabric if i'm going to make a skirt or something with it.
    p.s. I have yet to make any article of clothing =P

  4. This is a stupid question I'm sure but... What kind of oil do you use to oil your sewing machine?

  5. There are NO stupid questions. You can find sewing machine oil in your local sewing store. It is usually located near the seam rippers, needles and pins.

  6. When I started quilting I never washed my fabrics. Then I heard you "had" to wash them. Tried it, didn't like it and didn't see the point. I like the crispness that unwashed fabric has. Plus, I want my fabric to shrink a bit in my finished quilts. I use cotton batting and I love the wrinkle look and feel of a washed quilt.

  7. I prewash quilt fabric but I don't prewash batting so that the dryer will make everything pucker more. I know Rita of Red Pepper prewashes her batting.

    by the way - terrific photos!! Where are they from? If you ever come across a group of women sewing together or sharing secrets with each other, would you pass it my way!?

    : )
    have a great day!! Love all your tutorials by the way. These days I blog too much and don't always get around to visiting everyone else.

    in Saskatoon

  8. Your "Shakespeare" lines are very clever. :-) Thanks for all these interesting and helpful posts!

  9. I have just found this and am loving it already. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :) Can't wait to get started. The blocks you are doing I've never done. I have done a big variety but not these. They are some I have put off because of not being brave enough. (I have done:Churn Dash, 9Patch, Shoofly, Card Trick, Rail Fence, Chain Link, etc, but never a log cabin or flying geese etc.) Can't wait!!