Washing quilts

loisflanDecember 6, 2011

I've noticed that several of the forum members mention washing the quilt before giving it away. I washed all the fabrics before I pieced and quilted them. They've always been in a smoke-free and pet-free environment. Should I still wash them before gifting them? What method do you use? Cold water? Do you hang the quilt to dry or use the dryer? What do you tell your recipients about how to care for the quilts? Thanks for the advice.

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I am one of those that does not prewash unless it is a dark color fabric. I do test a small peice for color fastness.

It is rare that I make a quilt that does not have starch, glue, and pencil markings on it.

The 'cat' quilt is a gift and I want to make sure the machine applique washes well.

I also am in a smoke and pet free environment.

I always wash a quilt before giving it away in a gentle detergent (with color catcher), gentle cycle, cold water, and no softners. I line dry (spread out, not hanging down, in the shade) and then put it in the dryer to fluff it up.

I make my quilts to be used so this is the exact same advice I give to the recipients!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 12:44PM
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I always wash the quilt because it's covered in blue markings by the time I'm done. Just spritzing it doesn't seem to take them completely out. I also might pick up dirt as I toss them around in the process.

I use warm water, Orvis soap, color catchers and just slightly dry them in the dryer. I lay them out on the floor or spare bed to finish drying. I want to be able to say they are washable and if any seams don't withstand washing, I want it to be me that finds out.

The large queen size I just finished I had to take down to the laundromat because it was too big for my washer. I threw it in their big dryer for 20 minutes to sort of fluff it and brought it home to dry. I always expect quilts to be fragile but they never are.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:29PM
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I wash them to make sure there are no hand oils or dirt on them. I also like the crinkly look they get after washing. I throw them in the wash on the regular cycle with regular detergent and dry in the dryer.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:39PM
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I pre-wash all my fabrics before they go into my sewing room. But I do not wash my finished quilts - don't see the need.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:50PM
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I do that same as Donna. I have a large front loader washer so I just toss it in with regular laundry detergent and into the dryer. I usually put in a dryer sheet in the dryer. With darker fabrics I use a color catcher also.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 2:52PM
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I don't pre-wash my fabrics (except in the darker colors/batiks). I do like the shrinkage that takes place after I wash & dry the finished product.

I will wash in the washer, regular detergent, color catcher (or 2 or 3 to be safe) and fully dry in the dryer.

I like the washed look, but would also like to confirm it's not going to fall part for the recipient! If there are any surprises, I want to be the one to find them!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 3:07PM
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I do not prewash. I do wash all my quilts before they go out the door for several reasons. The first is that I don't prewash. The second is that mine is also for sure going to have starch, perhaps chalk markings or washable marker markings, not to mention bits of thread or fluff. Thirdly, I do not have pets in my sewing room, but I notice that oils turn cottons a yellowish hue over time. I certainly handle my quilts in the making and there is surely going to be dust, and oils on the material. Fourth........yes, I want to make sure all the seams are well secured, how embarrassing that would be to have one even pull a small section loose. And last but not least it is clean and new and ready to be put on somebody's bed without them needing to do it 'just in case'. I know my mother was fastidious about her linens. She would wash it, just in case. LOL

My quilts go into my washing machine. I huge wringer and the snot gets beat out of them with hot water and organic soap. I do not have a dryer, so yes, they get hung to dry, winter or summer. One can still smell the fresh air on them when they're unfolded, even months later. I also like the crinkly look when they're laundered and the anticipated shrinkage takes place in the material, thread and cotton batting. Oh.........I do prewash anything I expect to shrink a lot in comparison to the other fabrics, like flannel. I tell the recipient to please USE the quilt, and it's been through the wash already and good to go through their machines too. I do know a few people who are reluctant to use quilts believing them to be so delicate that it wouldn't be worth it to have them.

No, needless to say, I do not make ultra-fancy heirloom quilts. I suppose I'd not do that to a GFG, or Baltimore Albumn and certainly don't treat my couple of antique quilts to the same routine.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 4:19PM
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It was a lot of years and a lot of quilts before I got to keep some of them here.
I've always washed and dried them before they left. Mainly because I hand quilt them and it can take as much as a year to complete one. Fabric flopping around for that long can get rather....well you know!
The ones I've kept I've noticed shrinking. 12" blocks are now 11" blocks! But I love that wrinkly look so that's ok.

BUT!!! Every single quilt I have has a seam that's come apart. Just a small split but totally annoying. I've used iron on patches like butterflies and flowers to patch the holes. And I think I've solved that problem by ironing my seams open like dressmakers do. I'm thinking that you can't miss a short seam by doing that.
I wonder about all those beauties I sent out the door. Are they in shreads now??

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 8:54AM
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I've never had a seam split on the first washing. It always takes several. Would somebody tell you that they've washed your quilt so many times that it's fallin apart?? LOL!!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:01AM
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Actually, "Yes" Bon! One of my best friends did just that!

I made double irish chain for her son as a baby quilt. It was washed so often and used so frequently that the batting has come out and it's rather a mess. It's now 11 years old. But they love it anyway, just the way it is.

No saying if the damage was due to poor craftsmanship or frequent washings/use. But it doesn't matter....It's been loved!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 5:48PM
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I always prewash all fabrics. I always wash the quilt when finished. I figure, with all the handling and weeks or months of just lying around, there is bound to be at least dust on them - after all I have to dust the furniture at least once a week. I always wash my hands before entering the sewing room and don't smoke - I do have a dog but she isn't allowed in there. I run the fan continuously in my central unit to keep down the dust (and this does work) but there is still dust and cooking odors floating around. We are immune to our own house smells but everyone's environment is distinctive - haven't you ever noticed that when you go to someone's house the smell is different? Might not be offensive, but it's different. But another reason is to fluff it up a bit and to make sure there are no open seams - (never has been but who knows) - or even fraying of fabric or open weaves. I try to buy good quality but one never knows, especially when reaching deep down in the stash where I can't even remember where the fabric came from or how long ago I got it. And I like the fresh clean smell of it. I just wash with regular detergent, but a smaller amount, cold water, gentle cycle, then I dry until it's almost completely dry with a dryer sheet, and then lay it out on a bed or over the back of the sofa to complete the drying.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 7:43AM
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Since I use the family room rug as a design wall, you better believe I wash my quilts before they go out the door.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 10:26AM
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I pre-wash all my fabric before cutting it. I usually wash my quilts before gifting them to family. I make all my quilts so they can be washed in the washing machine in cold water and dried on medium heat in the dryer. I have a smoke-free pet-free home, but I still like to make sure my quilts are washed before gifting them, because if you do a lot of hand quilting eventually your hands are going to sweat at some point. And since I hand-quilt all my quilts, I always wash them when I finish them.

Best to you,

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:04PM
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I prewash all my fabric. I also wash the completed quilt, cold cycle, delicate extra rinse - because I have a HE front load washer that i just do not think uses enough water! I also throw in a few color catchers, and they always come out colored. I dry until just damp, lay out on floor or spare bed until dry. By the time I have completed the quilt, it has lovingly been dragged across the floor multiple times, and like Rita says - there is accumulated dust in the house.
I also like the crinkly look after washing.
I use Dreft detergent - love the gentle, clean smell.
I just washed 2 newly completed quilts today!Yay

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 10:55PM
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