Quilters can be pretty set in their ways and this is one of those topics that often gets conversation going, online and in person.
I used to pre-wash everything--it came from my car to the laundry room before it went to the studio.
Some years ago I stopped that and for the last ten years or so I have basically pre-washed nothing. Using a Color Catcher when the quilt was done was enough insurance for me. This is a miracle product, every kid going off to college should be given several boxes and taught to use them. It's magic: any color molecules that bleed off the fabric into the water are attracted to the color catcher sheet, not the surrounding fabrics:
I did not pre-wash the 59 red and white fabrics used in my Red and White--By the Numbers quilt. When asked how I could bear to sell that one, my funny reply was always: "I had to sell it before I had to wash it.". Can you imagine the fear in putting a quilt like that in the washing machine? No, me neither. I would probably have used an entire box of Color Catchers. And held my breath until the cycle was done. I did sell it so I never had to experience that level of fear and trepidation.
Today I pulled 40 fabrics from my stash, mostly batiks, for a 40th anniversary Block of the Week quilt from a local shop, to celebrate 40 years of the quilt shop being in business, with the same owner. Patches & Stitches has been my "home away from home" for 30 years and the "happy place" for many, many quilters. There will be lots more info about the quilt coming--don't ask me, the details, I don't know all the ins and outs yet--but we will all know soon!
I am not a Hoarder. I am the "Curator of an Extensive Personal Fabric Collection". Here are the fabrics I pulled in just 10 minutes from my considerable stash:
As I looked at those really dark batiks, especially the reds, purples, and dark blues, I thought I better pre-wash all this fabric, including the stark white with white dragonflies. I separated the fabrics into darks and medium/lights and did two loads. Here are the Color Catcher results:
You can tell which came from which load. I probably should have washed those reds and purples again but I didn't. I was really surprised how the yellows bled. But the white fabric is still pristinely white, no problems. I will be sure to use a few color catchers when washing the completed quilt, and will continue to use them until fabrics in the quilt no longer bleed.
Here are my fabrics, pressed and folded, just waiting for the first block instruction:
I'm sure this is enough fabric for two or three quilts so I'm already thinking of another project or two to use them in. I want to USE my fabric, not STORE it.
Do YOU pre-wash? Any horror stories to tell? I'm glad I took the time to pre-wash these--it didn't take very long, less than 2 hours to wash, dry and press both loads. I used the Express Wash cycle as the fabrics are dirty, just new.