Washing Fabric, part two

Yesterday I wrote about why we
pre-wash our quilt fabric. Today I'm going to show you how I do it. If
you look at the photo from yesterday's post, you'll see a square gallon
jug. That is a jug of Orvus Paste (aka Quilt Soap). It's a sheep
shampoo and I buy mine at Tractor Supply. I've used it for years and
have been very happy with it. I found an informatinve
article at Hart Cottage Quilts.

use warm water. It doesn't take much Orvus per washer load. I wet my
hand in the washer water and dip it into the jar and scoop a bit out.
In reading that article I find I should be wearing gloves. Oh well.


the washer is filling, I grab my fabric with wet hands. It's a real
hassle to unfold fabric and get it in the washer with dry hands. Wet
hands can grasp the fabric better and that saves a lot of time and
energy. As my hands get dry, I stick them back in the washer water –
with the lid up, my washer won't agitate. NEVER stick you hands in a moving washer!!!! (See note below.)


the washer is done, I pull the fabric out of the washer and put it in
the dryer. I cut the tangle of threads free from the fabric. I view
this as a cost of doing business – it's just part of the process. You
could get creative and do something with these threads. I know I never
will so I throw them away. I've tried all sorts of tricks to cut down
on the threads and none have worked for me. I'm too lazy to serge or
re-cut the edges with a wavy cutter. But that's me – one of those
tricks might work for you.


I dry on warm. Once the fabric is dry I pull it out and fold it. I don't iron fabric until I'm ready to use it in a quilt.

Now – about that note… When
my brother was 4 (I was 8), he had to have surgery. We lived in
Oklahoma City and he went to Children's Hospital there that is
affiliated with the University of Oklahoma medical center. I'll never
forget my mom telling me about a much bigger kid (he was 18 I think)
who was on the same floor with my brother. He had been doing laundry
and he reached into a spinning washer to pull something out. Instead,
he lost an arm and they were doing their best to re-attach it. I don't
think any washers then had the switch that is supposed to stop the
spinning when the lid is up.

I decided to look to see if I could find a reference to this incident online and I didn't find one – but I did find a link to this story dated March 25, 2009. It has happened again! And there are links to even more incidents. So, let me stress this again – NEVER reach into a moving washing machine!

really thought that all washers came with the safety
switch that stopped all spinning when the lid was up. Be aware, as I am
now, that they don't all come with that safety feature.

12 thoughts on “Washing Fabric, part two

  1. Do you was charm packs and layer cakes too? Thanks for the post. I used to wash my fabrics until charm packs came along….I was afraid the squares would shrink too much to use in a pattern.


  2. Yes, washers can be dangerous. My GF younger sister had her arm taken off in a washer, luckily they were able to reattach it but she can’t bend her elbow, so her arm is at a 60 degree angle.:(
    She has full use of her fingers.:)


  3. Different machines have different cycles. My washer has a handwash cycle and a gentle cycle both of which do very little agitating, which results in very little, if any, raveling of the fabric. This eliminates the trimming of those pesky threads. Check out your machine. Love your blog and all of your books. All your work does not go unnoticed. Kristy in Ohio


  4. I would really really want to wash charm packs and jelly rolls. If I did, Id put them in a lingerie bag to do it. The problem is that most are cut to specific sizes and there is no allowance for shrinkage. It would sort of defeat the whole purpose of buying them in the first place. So I have not been able to bring myself to buy them. I know they are pretty but I just dont like using unwashed fabric.
    I know that many people use them and love them. Im just not in that group.


  5. Now I need a tute on ironing the fabric. I think I don’t prewash, because I hate ironing it after it is washed. Fat quarters are easy, but yardage, not so much. Thanks for the washing tute.


  6. I’ve found that if I let the fabric soak a bit with a color catcher and then just lightly agitate it in the washer by hand (after all, the fabric isn’t soiled, just has sizing and we want to make sure it’s colorfast), I then close the lid and move the dial to spin, repeat for rinse, and the pieces of fabric don’t get all entwined because the threads on the edge don’t get all pulled. If I’m in a hurry, I don’t even use detergent, I just rinse and dry the fabric. I also throw a clean dry towel in the dryer with the fabric and it doesn’t seem to emerge so wrinkled.


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