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Do you wash your material before you use it or do you just use the material?

I personally wash everything and of course spend hours ironing before I carefully fold and put away. My first go round with quilting - I never washed material but for some reason this time I have been.

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I never wash my fabric before cutting and piecing. I often wonder if I should.
I have heard from some that material should & should not be washed, but my thought is that if I wash it and it shrinks any at all then it will not shrink when I put the quilt together. Found a tip in a quilt magazine that says that all material SHOULD be washed, dried and ironed before using it. It also said that if you have several different materials that they should be washed, dried and ironed all on the same day and put with everything you need to make the quilt of your choice so that everything is together when you get one UFO done and ready to start something new.
Gigi, I wash my fabrics because I hate do all the work to find fabric that bleeds. Although I have been to that good quality quilt fabric will not run I have found that not to be so. I actually had this same discussion in the quilt store today. One of the ladies does and one doesn't. Store owner doesn't, I contribute this to she does alot of her quilting right at the store and uses stock off the shelf.
It is a good ideas to put fabrics together that are meant for a project since memorys' have a habit of being missing just when you need them most. I have also been told to use a laundry to mark the salvage to identify projects that go together. This after I mixed up fabrics and can't remember which like tones go to what projects (memroys again, cant rely on them!) I don't alway get around to washing as soon as the fabric gets home, I wait until I have a full load.
Washing fabric has caused issues because the fabric sizing is gone but I now use starch to solve that problem. When I wash my fabrics I check them for color fastness using hot water and white vinegar, and the wash them in the machine using only hot water. White vinegar is a green way to soften clothes so I figure this is why my fabric is so soft.
I have started to prewash all my fabrics in warm water with a bit of laundry detergent. Some patterns say no but I can see if they fade or shrink. Most of the time nothing happens but it only takes one to ruin patchwork.
I also hang it out to dry rather than putting it in the dryer. It is easier to iron that way, the wrinkles aren't set. I either hang them outside or in the basement or wherever I get the quickest drying time. My family is used to seeing fabric just about anywhere :) If you don't throw it in the dryer the fabric doesn't get as soft and loose its stiffness as much as if it were in the dryer. Easier to handle. More like it still has sizing.
I wash reds in really warm water and sometimes navy will run too. I always wash these separate. Other colors don't seem to bleed.
Love the idea on pinking the ends. Never thought of that. Good idea.
I always wash everything immediately. I don't like inhaling the smell of fabric sizing chemicals when I am working and I don't like any nasty surprises later on!
I always wash my fabric first, though not because I'm worried about the dyes running. I make mostly wall hanging and baby quilts and give a lot of them as gifts, so I don't usually want them to look antique and/or used. I like to think that if I wash & dry the fabric in the machine first, it cuts down on quilt shrinkage and puckering later. Don't know if that's actually the case or not.
I've tried the pinking shears on the edges technique to avoid strings in the wash, but haven't always had success with it. I put my fabrics in mesh lingerie washing bags when I wash them and that helps somewhat. I find it keeps them from getting all wound up around each other as much, too.
I have a big mesh sweater washing bag I use when I get large cuts of fabric for backings.
To everyone who washes before using their fabric: Don't you get a ton of threads? Even with pinking the edges or cutting corners, what do you do about all the excess threads when you wash first? The only time I washed before sewing, I had so many threads, I didn't think it humanly possible to clip them all. How do you all handle this?
Rosemary -
I bought a lingerie washing bag at Target and put all my fabric in it when I wash/dry.
It doesn't make all the threads go away, but it does make them a bit easier to deal with, I think.
I have found that if I wash my fabric on Hand Wash machine cycle, very little threading...
at the begining i washed every thing and ironed. due to financial crisis i dont wash, and iron only when i start a project, i do iron with starch and that is great. (i got 200 euro back from the electricity company!!!) and still love my quilt. what i do now and didnt do before i do buy only good fabrics so i know that it will not bleed
To help eliminate those stringy threads I clip each corner 1'2 "at a 45 degree angle. Still get some threading but not much. This way you can always tell which fabrics have been washed if you don't manage to get to them right away. I had a friend who serges her raw edges but I found that little bit could mean the lost of a strip of fabric for you project.
I don't wash fabric, ever. I think it's a personal decision. The color catcher can save the day if needed and it's easier to hand quilt.

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