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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Worried About the Dye in Your Fabric?

 Lately, I have received quite a few emails and messages asking about how stable the dye is in Marcus Fabrics.  I've heard heartbreaking stories about dye releasing and ruining quilts.  Truly heartbreaking.

I wrote a blog post in 2015 about my experience with Marcus Fabrics dyes.  You can read that blog post here.

Since then, I've learned a bit more about this subject.  A few years ago, I attended a talk and demo given by Harriet Hargrave.  She brought giant glass jars filled with nothing but water.....different types of water, such as hard, soft, well water, distilled, etc.  

She submerged the exact same piece of fabric into each jar, and began talking about the vast differences, with regard to chemicals and minerals, that each of our water sources might have.  It took no time at all before the dye began to run in some of the water jars.  By the end of the talk, one jar was so loaded with dye you could no longer see the fabric.  Others had a little tinge of color and some had no dye release at all.  

Her point was....there are many factors effecting the release of dye in your fabric.  Yes, the fabric itself and the dye used, the water, and any detergent you add....all play a role.

I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and we enjoy what is locally known here as 'Chicago water' which means it comes from Lake Michigan.  I have no clue how the city of Chicago treats the water (with what chemicals, etc) but I know, so far, I've had no worries about washing my quilts, clothes, anything.

That said, I do not pre-wash a scrap of my fabric.  I do completely saturate it with spray sizing to make the fabric stiff (so, so much easier to cut, piece and press.)  If the fabric dye was going to run, I would know it right away....as soon as the sizing hit the fabric.  It has been years and years since I've had any problem with dye running, but I'm always on the lookout.  

My advice is still the same as it was in 2015....TEST your fabric before cutting it!!!  Use only quilt shop quality 100% cotton! 

One last thing to share....if you do have a quilt where the dye has run, and it isn't a complete train wreck, DON'T DRY THE QUILT!  Instead, turn it over so the top is facing down, and run cold water through the quilt until the dye is gone.  I have seen this work!  It may take a long time to allow the water to rinse the dye completely, but you have a chance so long as the quilt doesn't dry.  There are no guarantees that this will work, but it's worth a try given all the labor you have in the quilt.  I hope this helps to answer your questions.

IN THE STUDIO.....My Love & Hope quilt is finished and is being photographed.  Can't wait for it to come back home.  The fabric is scheduled to arrive at your LQS next month. 

Coming soon is Old Blue Calicos....and two lovely quilts made from the prints in this classic collection.  I'm working on the patterns now, and my sample fabric has just arrived.  So exciting!  Click here to see all the prints in Old Blue Calicos.

I've been posting sneak peeks of Pinks of the Past fabrics on Instagram & Facebook...have you been following me?  Please do!

Keep your needle busy and your heart content.  Be safe out there!


  1. Interesting to hear about Harriets demo with the bottles of water. That had never occurred to me that the source of the water could make such a difference. Thank you for sharing that.
    Looking forward to the Old Blue Calicos!

  2. Interesting post about fabric color. Never thought of that water can make a difference.