Fabric Washing – 2018 Update

I keep learning new things! The last time I wrote about fabric washing was in August 2017. (Click here, and on the link in that post, to read about why I always wash my fabric.) Since then I’ve made changes to my washing routine.  FYI: I never use laundry detergent or fabric softeners on my quilts or quilt fabric.

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  • I now use Retro Wash instead of Orvus Paste as the “soap” in the washer. Both work, but Retro Wash is easier to use.

Retro Wash is a powder. The instructions on the package are clear. Use 1 tablespoon per load in a top-loading HE machine. I don’t mix it with water first, but you probably could. I use the same amount of Retro Wash, no matter the size of the load, which might be wrong, but it works for me.

  •  Retayne is the chemical that sets the dye into the fabric. There is new, much improved, information on the label now.

The label says is to use 1 teaspoon of Retayne per yard of fabric in a HE machine, with warm water. It turns out that I wasn’t using near enough Retayne before! I mix the Retayne in a half-cup of water and pour it into the detergent receptacle.

Click here to find Retro Wash and Retayne.

  • Add 1 Color Catcher to pick up excess dye, just because.

Color Catchers catch the excess dye from the water. (I very much suspect that they have Synthrapol in them, but I don’t know that for sure.)

Since I changed my washing routine, the Color Catchers are coming out white, even in dark loads. I am happy!

When I wash quilts, I will use Retro Wash, at least 1 Color Catcher, and Synthrapol. Synthrapol keeps dye that has migrated into the wash water from re-depositing into the fabric. I haven’t done that yet — I’ll let you know when I do.

I do have one more bit of (mildly disturbing) news that I learned from a student who works for US Customs. There’s not a nice way to say it, so here goes: ships, and the containers on them, are often infested with vermin. Who leave droppings. ICK!!!!

I don’t know how fabric is wrapped for travel inside the container. It starts on rolls and later is folded, wound onto cardboard bolts, and then shrink-wrapped in plastic. That might happen here in the US, or overseas. Either way, the contamination is probably small. But still, that got my attention. (FYI: Most of our clothes are also imported so I’m now washing new clothes before I wear them.)

 

How fabric shrinks…

I always wash my fabric in the washer and dry it in the dryer before I use it in a quilt. One of the reasons I do this is because cotton fabric shrinks and I like to use fabric at its final size.

Individual fabrics shrink at varying rates. I didn’t think about shrinkage details until I washed a 10″x10″ Layer Cake. Like all Layer Cakes, the squares were perfectly cut and all the same size before I washed them.

After laundering, I stacked the squares with the top and left sides even. Notice that the pieces are not square!

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The pieces are all about the same length (close to 10″ long), but they vary in width. Once I got to thinking about it, that makes sense. Fabric should shrink more from side-to-side (between the selvages) than it does along its length.

I took the top piece off the stack and turned it sideways. The blue fabric is 5/8″ longer than it is wide. Remember, these began as 10″ squares. The shrinkage across 40″ would be 2 1/2″! Some fabrics shrunk less.

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All of the fabric seems a little skewed. I think it’s probably because none of the squares were cut truly on-grain.

So, what is the takeaway?

  1. When you use unwashed fabric in your quilt, don’t be surprised if the shapes skew a bit when your quilt is washed and dried. (It’s possible that air-dried quilts won’t shrink/skew as much as quilts dried in a dryer.)
  2. This skewing effect is likely to be more noticeable on bigger shapes than on small shapes.
  3. You should not count on pre-cut fabric holding its size or shape.
  4. For me, this confirms that it pays to pay attention. You never know when you might learn a new thing.
  5. This is just one more reason to consider laundering your fabric before you use it.

 

Would you be interested in silk scraps?

While I was in NYC, I bought a scarf from an artist, Lydia Crespo, at Chelsea Market. We talked, and when she found out that I sewed, she asked if I would be interested in her silk scraps. She has a lot and hates to throw them away. I assured her that even though I didn’t need them, one or more of you might love to have them.

Email Lydia (info@argamandefiance.com) or click here to go to her site and email from there.

I bought the Black Gold Speckled Raw Silk Cape.

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Could I have made it myself? Yes. Would I ever make it myself, and speckle it? Probably not. Am I glad I bought it? Absolutely!!! This is the only scarf I own (and I own way too many scarves) that stays where I put it. And it is neither too warm nor not warm enough.

This is also the only scarf I own that has slits that are useful and that disappear when I wear the scarf like a scarf.

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So, there you go. If you are interested in Lydia’s scraps, I hope you get some!

Magical Unicorn Fabric Bundle

Alison Glass designs lovely fabric that just happens to be perfect for The Magical Unicorn. I asked if she could put together a magical fabric bundle and I am very happy to announce that she has!

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The rainbow starter bundle above will get you well on your way to having a great selection of fabrics for your Magical Unicorn quilt.

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Depending on your specific color choices, you may need to add to this selection. You will also need to add larger cuts of some colors due to size and background needs. Alison has add-on options with the bundle and you can also visit the yardage section in her online shop for the white base/background fabric.

I want to add that I’ve been sewing with Alison’s fabric on two of the Bullseye quilts and it is a joy to work with. It will be a constant in my stash from now on. Happy stitching!

 

One thing leads to another…

I spent 12 years with an admittedly fine sofa from Crate and Barrel. I loved the chocolate brown color, until I didn’t. CandB announced their annual sofa sale 2 weeks ago and I did a happy dance. Our new Petrie sofa is exactly the same as the old sofa except that it’s a little shorter, charcoal gray, firmer, and cleaner.

I have 2 midcentury modern arm chairs whose cushions were covered with a lovely brown print that I had also grown very tired of. They looked so bad with the gray sofa that I couldn’t put off recovering them.

Why is it that there are so few choices in upholstery fabric, especially if you don’t live in a big city? I could have shopped online but I wanted to see and feel the fabric. I was amazed that I found the perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby — and it was even on sale!

You know me and dots…

Just so you know, recovering cushions is not hard. You have the skills to do this. Use the old cushions as a guide and go for it!

I made the brown the cushions years ago and it wasn’t hard to use them as patterns for the new covers. The foam inserts did not need to be replaced. I spent a few hours carefully cutting all the pieces for 2 seat cushions and 2 chair backs.

And then I sewed. It took longer than I thought it would, partly because I made the covered cording too. My trusty BERNINA 1140 handled the many thicknesses of this thick fabric just fine. I love that machine!

I finished the last cushion just before the eclipse which, when you look at the fabric, felt perfect.

I bought more of this fabric than I needed. There’s probably at least a yard, but there are diagonal cuts from where I cut the bias for the cording. If you would like what I have left and are will to pay the postage, it’s yours :-). Email me at becky.pieceocake@gmail.com. The first person I hear from gets it. I’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the shipping.

Flourishes…

I’m home from vacation feeling refreshed and ready to go which is good because my desk is buried under things to do. But I can do it! I’ll begin sharing photos and stories tomorrow. Today I want to give you an opportunity from another quilter.

Renee Arnett was cleaning out her stash and came across a fabric kit, with each block pattern, for our Flourishes quilt. (The border pattern is not included but you can download it for free here.) 

Renee has sold the kit shown below. If I hear of another one, I’ll let you know. 

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Fabric love at first sight…

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I love Alison Glass‘s fabric. That’s a fact.

You know that the fabrics in any collection, by any designer or from any company, are designed to work together. I have found that even though I may like a collection, there are only a few fabrics that I actually use. It is a rare thing to find a collection of prints where everything works together as well as these fabrics do. Why is that?

  • In addition to being just luscious, there is a nice mix of values.
  • These particular prints add texture without being distracting. That works really well in both piecing and appliqué.
  • There are both clear colors and gray colors. When used together, clear colors come forward, grayer colors recede. In a quilt, the combination of clear and gray colors adds dimension to the design.

This is what I have right now: a mix of Alison’s Chroma and Handcrafted Indigo collections as well as a text print. It’s a great start but I know I’m going to be adding more AG fabric to this mix because more is obviously better in this case :-).

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If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m working on a foundation paper pieced quilt. The first quilt top is sewn and I’m now making variations of the pattern in AG fabric. I don’t want to ruin future surprises but this gives you an idea of how these prints work together in a pieced block.

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One last thing: When I was in St. Louis last week I picked up some give-away scraps of vintage fabric from the guild table. Too many quilters are nervous about mixing vintage-style prints with modern prints. Don’t be! This is a happy stack of fabric that would make a great quilt.

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I don’t often go on and on about fabric on my blog, but these prints are special. You should consider adding them to your stash.

Happy fabric shopping (is there any other kind?).