Prewashing Fabric

With your design and fabric chosen, prewashing fabric is going to be the next decision you need to make.

To prewash or not to prewash? This question has been much debated over the years. There are many people who never prewash fabric, and there are just as many people that always prewash fabric.

I personally don't prewash my fabrics. Instead I only buy quality fabrics from reputable suppliers. Most high quality fabrics are also less likely to have color bleeding because of manufacturing advances.

My advice is to do whatever you are most comfortable doing. You'll develop your own preferences for prewashing as you work with fabrics and construct your quilts. Ask other quilters for their opinions on fabric care, listen to what they say, then experiment to determine which techniques work best for you. I hope the following information helps you to make an educated decision.

Photo courtesy of Tony Hisgett

Reasons to Prewash

  1.  to avoid a lot of worry regarding color bleeding, fading, and uneven shrinkage
  2. to control shrinkage especially if your quilt uses fabrics from different manufacturers
  3. to minimize color bleeding
  4. to remove potential irritants such as sizing and other chemical coatings that might cause allergic reactions in chemically sensitive people

Reasons Not to Prewash

  1. * to save time
  2. * to skip a lot of ironing after the fabric comes out of the drier
  3. * to make preparation easier as unwashed fabric is easier to fold, mark, and cut accurately
  4. * to avoid puckering from the fabrics being softer
  5. * to maintain color brightness

The Golden Rule Whether you decide to prewash or not prewash the most important rule is to be consistent. Either prewash all your fabrics, or don't prewash at all.

Great! With that decision made you are now ready to stabilize backing fabric for your applique project.

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