Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pre-wash or rat poop?

I am on my last nerve here, folks. On top of the stomach viruses and flu, the kids now have strep and bronchitis, and their horrible coughs have kept me awake every night for days. Last night would have been the first night that I had even a chance of sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a stretch, except as soon as I got the girls settled in bed, the power went out, due to a wet, heavy snow. We don't have a fireplace, so all we could do was pile on the quilts (and hasn't that turned out to be a useful hobby?) and hunker down for the night. But I couldn't stay asleep in the cold and am yet again short on sleep and long on wanting to hurl myself off a bridge.

We have close friends who live nearby who have power so we are staying at their place until we are electrified once again, but of course their house is FREEZING, even with the heat on. So I am trying to keep warm with the heat from their laptop and any alcoholic beverages I can rustle up.

So, why don't you keep me occupied and answer the next question, one already posted on Facebook: do you pre-wash your fabric or not and why? And Debra, if you would be so kind as to tell our non-Facebook friends about the RAT POOP, I'd be obliged. I think you need to freak out as many people as possible, as a public service. And that little tidbit, by the way, is TOTALLY going in the article.

52 comments:

Mary said...

Hi Megan, I know this is off topic but I just read recently that if you put Vicks vapor rub on the BOTTOM of feet of someone who can't stop coughing, that it will stop in a matter of 10 minutes. It couldn't hurt, right?

BTW, I LOVE your blog and I do NOT pre-wash.

pojeda said...

I am sooo sorry you are feeling bad AND your electricity went out! Talk about a double wammy!
Have you tried drinking Hot Toddies? It might help with your throat and more important, sleep!

I ALWAYS pre-wash my fabric! Do not want fabric to shrink once everything has been sewn together in a quilt!

Anne said...

prewash!

even then I've got a quilt with running reds.... grr

Monique said...

Hope you get your power back and everyone gets well soon! I do not pre-wash. I handquilt and my quilt goes into the washer (cold water) and dryer (low heat)as soon as it's bound. I like that it the fabric puckers up a bit.

Bailey said...

I'm pretty new to quilting so I'm always interested to hear the answers to the prewash or not question. So far I have not done any prewashing. The only thing I think I might prewash is a bunch of red fabrics that would be paired with white...but even then I don't know if I'd be safe to NOT prewash if the end product is just washed in cold?

Hope everyone is healthy fast!

Baskets Of Quilts said...

Hope your family feels better & that you get heat fast!
I do prewash since I have horrible luck and I know it would devastate me if colors bled. I even prewash and then use shout color catchers just to be absolutely sure.

Karin said...

I never prewash. I don't want to have to iron and restarch it afterwards, plus I always wash a freshly done quilt right after I'm done with the binding. I like them crinkly!

Monica said...

I tell people that I don't prewash because I liked the puckered look (which I do). But the truth of the matter is I don't prewash because I'm lazy and HATE ironing.

P. said...

Prewash. Sorry you've had a run of crud lately. Here's to heat and health!

Joanie said...

I usually prewash. When I don't is for certain patterns that use fat quarters. You may not get all the pieces cut if it is prewashed and has shrunk or is not longer square. This has happened to me twice, so never again. I always prewash flannel.
Get well and stay warm!

Charlotte said...

aiieeeee - no power in the freezing cold? What a nightmare! I hope it all gets sorted soon.

And I don't prewash, partly because I am lazy, but also because I like that slight crispiness that you get with brand new fabric.

Opiesgirl said...

I always prewash and didnt know I WASNT supposed to prewash a jelly roll - what mess!
So - now I prewash big cuts of fabric but never never never precuts - jellyrolls, charm packs, etc.

Hope the crud leaves your house soon. And that you get power on!

roberta said...

I always prewash cottons. I figure enough chaos enters my work without something that I can control easily. I also work with a lot of recycled fabrics, so using new unwashed with old, is even more chaos.

random thoughts do or di said...

Stay warm...while I suffer here in too sunny California, with the headache caused by the wind! I do not pre-wash...except flannel, because it makes all those little threads and that is more work than I need.
diane

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

You really are having a time of it, aren't you. Hope everyone feels better.

Try to stay away from alcohol (as tempting as it is...). It will lower your immunity and then you'll really be in trouble.

Try simmering some diced ginger (in water)for about 20 minutes. Let it cool until its just hot. Add lemon juice and some good honey. Good for the whole family. Approximately 12 ounces water, 1 1/2 inch cube ginger (diced), juice of 1/4 lemon, 1 to 2 tablespoons honey per serving.

Honey should never be added to superhot beverages.

Now, pre-wash or not?

I pre-wash because the ironing part is relaxing...it's the only time I DO iron. However, I don't pre-wash jelly rolls or other small pre-cuts.

I like the crinkly look, but find that since I don't pre-wash my batting (or thread), that I can still get that even though I pre-wash the fabric because the batting will shrink a little.

Anonymous said...

Deborah says:

I'll check back to see what's up with Rat Poop......

Mimi said...

Wow, hope you and your family can soon get back to normal and healthy.

I'd love to know about the rat poop thing...can you enlighten me?

As to pre-washing...I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pre-wash my fabrics. I even pre-wash fat quarters (and fat 8th, too). I recently bought a jelly roll and from reading other comments posted before mine, I won't be pre-washing that.

The reason I pre-wash? I don't want surprises. Besides, once I started pre-washing, I feel I need to continue so as not to mix the two.

Feel better.

Jean said...

I prewash. I know I don't have to, but I've found that sometimes the sizing on unwashed fabrics makes me itch.

we used to have this great wearhouse fabric place that was such a trip to go into, but a half hour there and I was all hives.....

quiltzyx said...

Yes, I do pre-wash, except for pre-cuts. But after reading about the RAT POOP, I may start soaking those in the sink at least.

Sending healing strength your way too. Hope the power's back on ASAP!

Cherie in St Louis said...

Yowza! You have really had a bad streak. I feel for you.

I do pre-wash my fabrics most of the time. I know that current wisdom is you don't have to but I like handling (okay, lovingly fondling :) ) and ironing my stash acquisitions. If I buy a piece to use right away, I don't worry about pre-washing. I almost always throw a color catcher in when I wash a quilt so I'm not too fanatical about pre-washing.

Nancy said...

i don't prewash cause I'm lazy...

Anonymous said...

I make art quilts / wall hangings so I never prewash my fabric. I feel, for the way I am using the fabric, that I want that sizing that slightly stiffens new fabric.

Veronica

Stormy Days said...

I prewash if I know I need the fabric and have the time, otherwise I don't really think about it. I won't stop if I pull a fabric out of the stash and it hasn't been washed. I DO prewash batiks, I hate those kinds of surprises.

The Calico Cat said...

In my house we already do at least 1 load a day, I am not about to add to it by pre-washing.
+ I like the crinkly look
+ I don't like to iron
+ my quilts are made to be used - even if they bleed.

Shanley said...

I totally agree with what Monica said...

" I tell people that I don't prewash because I liked the puckered look (which I do). But the truth of the matter is I don't prewash because I'm lazy and HATE ironing."

Dragon Lady said...

I prewash my flannels, and on the rare occasion when I mix my cotton with non-cotton I prewash. Otherwise, I toss the finished product in the washer on cold with a few color catchers. I like the 'aging' effect it has on quilts, and since I mostly do baby quilts, it softens them up before they're given away.

Zazzu said...

I pre-wash the fabrics I buy shortly after I get them home.

There are a lot of good reasons to pre-wash. Most importantly, it gets rid of the terrible, new-fabric stench.

Sorry that your crew is still sick. You need a warmer climate, for sure.

Natalie said...

I pre-wash like colors with a dye grabbing cloth made by Carbona. I do not pre-wash pre-cuts smaller than a fat quarter.

I do not dry my fabrics in the dryer. I take them straight from the wash to my ironing board where I shake out as many wrinkles as possible. I then lay them out flat on my ironing board to dry. For cuts 1/2 yard and above, I lay them out folded to make storing them easier.

I use comic book boards to wrap my fabric around like bolts in a shop and store them in my drawers and on shelves that way. It makes seeing the fabric and cutting it on my board much easier!

RenegadeQuilter said...

I don't prewash ever.... I never have the time for it....

Wilma NC said...

I prewash most everything, except of course strips etc. I, too, like to iron fabric, but not clothing.

Ann Marie said...

I use to prewash because I couldn't stand the chemical smell the fabric had. But most of the fabric nowadays doesn't have that foul smell. So I do NOT prewash, and as for a red and white quilt, that is what the colorcatchers are for. :D I hope everyone in your household gets well soon, I know how tiring it is when just one is sick.

Megan O said...

i prewash not so much for the washing part as much as the drying, i mean yeah its nice to know that your quilt isnt going to bleed like a stuck pig the first time your kid barfs on it, but mostly i like knowing that its good and shrunken and won't pull at my stitches. i have 0 patience for laying large quilts on the kitchen table to dry :D

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

I'm wayyyyyy to lazy to prewash.

Anne said...

I may be over thinking this, but I always pre-wash to have the cleanest fabric for my machine to sew. Sizing and dyes are part of the manufacturing process, and the cheaper the fabric the more sizing there seems to be. Without pre-washing, the lint that gets in my machine would have sizing on it too. The less that gets into the mechanics of my machine the better off it will be. And besides, the ironing is relaxing, but no starch.

Anne - Bellingham said...

I do pre-wash to remove the dyes and sizing from the manufacturing process. My machine deserves the cleanest fabric so the mechanics of it can move as smoothly as possible. Without pre-washing, the lint would, in a sense, be dirty. No starch when I iron either. This could just be paranoia.

Sarah Craig said...

I do not pre-wash - I read that if you do, you won't get that wonderful crinkly look after the first wash. I've had very good luck with Shout color catchers to keep the colors from running, and I use all kinds of fabrics, including vintage fabrics that tend to run!

So sorry about all the sickness at your house! Hope everyone gets better soon!

LittleBook said...

When I want to cut into fabric, I want to cut into it immediately. And, I love working with fabric fresh off the bolt. So, no prewashing for me. I do throw in about three of those Shout color catchers when I wash a quilt for the first time and have had good luck so far.

Mary-Anne said...

Nope, too lazy. And then I read debra's comment and while it certainly did give me pause.... it's still nope, I'm too lazy.

Laurel said...

Megan, I don't pre-wash. I tried to think of all the reasons why...
1) too lazy
2) like the hand of the unwashed fabric to work with
3) don't want to wait that long before I cut into the fabric
4) don't want to iron any more than I have to
5) ironing board not big enough for big pieces
6) easier to buy a bunch of color catchers
7) did I say that I'm lazy?

Hope the sick uglies are gone from your household soon.

Jodi-JoJoMia's Place said...

I never prewash. I love the shrinking that occurs after you wash and the more antique look. Also I agree with lots of other that I am too lazy, don't want to wait to cut it out or get started and I like the feel of unwashed fabric for handling.

QuiltSwissy said...

True about the mentholatum on your feet. The blood from the feet goes directly back to the lungs first of all and takes the decongestant back there with it. Clears your congestion up pretty quickly too.

I do not prewash, lazy and all that. I do use color catchers however and have never ever had a problem.


glen in nice sunny warm Louisiana who has been in Bonnie Hunter clsses for two days and wants to rub everyone's noses in it!

Nettie & Friends said...

I'm a wishy washy on prewashing. I usually prewash. I sometimes don't. I don't mix the two.

Hope you all feel better soon. I teach Kindergarten. It's a regular germ factory right now.

Ahhhh-choo!

LizA. said...

for all you naysayers, please take a look at WHY you should prewash, with color catchers and if there's any trace of color, wash and wash and wash again! http://picasaweb.google.com/LizQuiltz/WHYYouShouldPreWash

my beautiful Christmas Quilt that took me 3 years to make, is 94" square is now ruined.

Mrs A said...

nope to the prewash, im in the too lazy, hate ironing group!
vicks on the bottom of your feet, thats a new one, but actually all blood is returned to the heart then the lungs but if it works for you well, who am i to pass judgement! i found warm socks work just as well with a pair of fluffy slippers in snowy weather and polar fleece jumpers, beanies etc.
missed the rat poop story, does this help with the pre wash situation?!

little seamstress said...

I do not prewash. I am too lazy and I just don't care. Seems to be my mantra these days, I just don't care.

mjnauert said...

I guess I am going to go against the grain here with my textile background and say that if you don't pre-wash, your fabric will tighten up slightly after you wash, making the piece that you cut and sewed slightly smaller. It will not stretch out and get puckery. You will get that look regardless if you pre-wash your fabric or not, because of your batting. Your batting (if you are using cotton or cotton blend)will shrink more than the fabric, since it is not woven. I choose to pre-wash my fabric to prevent bleeding, which occurs in the best of brands of fabric; different bolts of cotton fabric are going to shrink at different rates so I want all of my pieces to be flat once they are in a washed quilt. Have you ever bought a t-shirt or jeans that twisted on you after you washed it? Same phenomenon.

mjnauert said...

oh, and a big P.S.
Yes you can pre-wash jelly rolls and other smaller scraps very easily. One way is to use a lingerie bag or bags in the washer. The other way is to just let them soak in the sink with warm water and fabric soap, rinse, lightly ring, and dry in the dryer inside a lingerie bag or pillow case. They will need ironing, but won't be a big clumped-up mess.

Kit Lang said...

I don't know what the rat pop story is (I see she didn't post it here); but having ordered bolts of fabric from both manufacturers and from stores, I know they always come either shrink wrapped in plastic or in their very own fabric sheeth, so no rat poop has touched those fibres! :P

Nancy said...

Hope you have power by now. A person could say what else could go wrong, but you just might find out! I usually pre-wash fabric although it depends on what I'm making. Mostly I don't want colors to run, having been a victim of that before. Especially reds, and I love reds.

Pattie Crum said...

I never pre-wash and have never had a problem with running and fading. I do use the color grabber things in the washer when I have red fabric in the quilt, which is often. How you and your family are feeling better now. Stay warm.
PS I don't like the way the fabric feels if it's prewashed, it's harder to work with.

Cfurr said...

When I am ill or my children were ill, and you/they cannot sleep at night, one word: Nyquil.

I prewash cottons but do not prewash batiks. Cotton fabric has a looser weave, so the weave will tighten (shrink) when prewashed. If you want the cotton really easy to slice and dice, spray starch it prior to ironing. A batik has a tighter weave and doesn't have the huge shrink thing going when it encounters water so I don't prewash that. I also always prewash a lesser grade of fabric, but not a finer grade.

Victoria said...

Yes, I pre-wash. It's a long story, but essentially I began sewing garments for myself back when the earth was still cooling, and after making a great dress and wearing it once, only to have it shrink (and run) when washed, I learned my lesson. Not to mention I was allergic to all of the perservatives (and rat poop) in the fabric, and would sneeze-loudly-and it was totally annoying! Then, to answer the 'iron' question...I don't care what the cost, I look for a few things: stainless steel bottom (so I can get the fusible off when I forget to use one of my many applique pressing sheets); lots of holes for a really good steam (iron that block into submission!); and weight...I like it heavy so the iron does the work for me and I don't have to push the ironing board into a banana shape to get my blocks flat.