I can not over state the importance of using quilt shop quality fabrics for your quilt. Quilt shop quality fabric simply means the base fabric itself, called greige goods (pronounced gray), are 100% high quality cotton threads in high thread count. You can tell the difference when you hold it up to the light (as compared with chain store fabric), and in the "hand" of the fabric, which means the soft, smooth feel it gives when running your hand across it. AKA petting said fabric. Teehee!
Additionally, the dye used, and the printing manufacturing process produce fabric that are not likely to bleed, fade, and will last much longer to wear & tear and washing than lesser quality fabric. Quilt shop quality milled fabric are long lasting, quality goods produced specifically for quilting, and sold only to quilt shops for that reason. If you're going to invest your most precious resource into your quilts....your time....why short change yourself with lower quality fabrics? (in my humble opinion.)
To Wash Or Not To Wash?
I believe this to be a personal preference. I thinking it's fine and dandy if you want to wash your fabric before cutting into it. Personally, I don't wash mine. The reason is that when fabric is milled, sizing is added to it for body, to keep it smooth, and to keep it from wrinkling. Once I have it at home, I add a lot more sizing or starch (mostly sizing) to make it even more stiff.
I am a big believer in sizing fabric!! The proof is in the results you get and I feel strongly that it's worth the time. There's a whole lot of designers and quilters who have come to know the benefits of sizing/starching fabric....a lot more than you might think. More on this in a moment.
Click here to read the original post.)
Red fabric being one of the most notorious for bleeding, I did an experiment with this little quilt made from my A Prairie Gathering collection. I sprayed the fabrics with sizing, soaking them thoroughly, then ironed them dry before cutting them for the quilt. If a fabric is going to bleed, it will surely bleed with sizing the same as with plain water. I tossed this quilt into the machine using the same detergent I use to wash our clothes. I wanted to see if any of the reds would bleed into the lights, or onto the backing. I'm happy to report that not one fabric bled. You can see photos of the experiment results in the original post.
With today's colorfast dyes, and milling process, fabrics generally do not bleed or run like they did years ago. That does not mean it never happens! If you have any doubt, it's always a good idea to test a patch so you'll know for sure.
Why add sizing or starch?
Washed and unwashed fabrics are soft and pliable. They fold and bend easily which is not a good thing for piecing. Imagine piecing a block with tissue paper, then imaging piecing with card stock. The stiffer the fabric, the more it behaves, and the more control you have to make it do what you want it to do, stay where you want it to stay, which means controlling it as it moves through the needle on your machine.
You must, must remember....starching or sizing must happen when your fabric is still yardage or scrap - BEFORE you cut it up for your quilt!!!!
If you didn't add sizing to your yardage before cutting,
do not spray your cut pieces, or blocks with starch as this will shrink or warp your fabric. I also don't recommend spraying any pre-cut, charm pack, or 10 x 10 pack, to guard against shrinkage.
You will notice a difference with the control you have in cutting your fabric, big time with piecing with your fabric, and you'll get a beautiful press with stiff fabric. If you don't believe me, just try it with one block!
I have an entire chapter all about fabric preparation, sizing, and even a way to starch yardage in your washing machine in my Heartspun Quilts Hint & Tips book. Click here for more info on the Hints Book.
All of the above fabric preparation is the way I do things and is just my opinion. I know it has helped many people gain great results in their piecing experience, but certainly isn't the only way to do things. If what you're doing yields good results for you....if it isn't broken...don't fix it!
Wednesday, I am headed to Primitives of the Midwest in Missouri. I haven't traveled for work in a year, so I'm very excited to get back to teaching, meeting wonderful quilters, and making more memories. Check Instagram and Facebook for pictures while I'm on the road.
Be well....and keep your sewing machines humming!