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.)

 

On folding quilts…

I have, for years, folded my quilts on the diagonal and have been pleased with the results. But there are many experienced quilters who feel strongly about folding on the straight of grain and today Bonnie Browning, Executive Show Director for AQS, has convinced me that folding on the straight has merit.

As we looked at quilts in the show (AQS Lancaster 2018), it was easy to see which quilts had been folded on the diagonal because those folds were very obvious. Bonnie said that pressing and/or steaming will usually make straight creases disappear, but it doesn’t help diagonal creases. She added that the weight of quilts folded ‘straight’ helps the creases fade after they are hung.

Quilts hanging in shows are relatively new and crisp, which may have something to do with it. They may not have been folded often, in either direction. I fold my quilts a lot (into and out of suitcases) and never in quite the same way.  That softens them up which may be why I don’t see hard diagonal creases in my quilts.

Bonnie also said that diagonal folding can cause the outer edges of the quilt to stretch a bit. That got my attention because I think that is probably true. I have only seen a tiny bit of give in my outer edges, but even a little is too much.

My quilts at home are rolled onto 2″ PVC pipes covered with sleeves cut from cotton fabric — that flattens creases between foldings. Any quilt that stays folded all the time is likely to show creases, no matter which way it is folded. If quilts are stacked on top of each other, that will add to the problem.

I visited with Sue Patton who always washes her quilts (washer and dryer) and reports that creases are not an issue for her. That’s a thought, right? For we hand appliquérs, it’s a scary thought, but still. I’m going to carefully choose some quilts to test this out on. In fact, I have two to share in a blog post, soon.

Sue also recommended the Tuscany Cotton Wool batting from Hobbs for its softness and possible non-crease-worthiness. I’m going to try it, soon I hope.

So, chime in with your thoughts and experiences. It’s how we all learn new things!

I’ll leave you with this photo that has nothing at all to do with the topic at hand, but I like it: Lancaster, in the snow.

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A gift from Caryl…

I’ll bet every one of you knows and loves Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s quilts. They are stunning works of art that make you smile all the way through to your heart. Recently Caryl sent me this email:

Since I have retired from teaching and retail, I am, as time permits, offering my patterns and digital workshops free of charge on my website.

I have just uploaded my most complete workshop ever, showing in minute detail how I made my quilt, Soaring Compliments, from start to finish. You will find it and all of my other free patterns and instructions at: http://www.bryerpatch.com/faq/faq.htm

Caryl’s sharing of her knowledge and techniques is so very generous. I know that I am grateful, as are you.

Thank you, Caryl!

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Hexie Squeeze Punch

A student told me about these Fiskars hole punches. Now that I have tried them I can tell you how they work. 


All sizes squeeze easily on card stock if you cut 1 sheet of paper at a time. You are can recycle paper (like heavier magazine inserts) or use pristine sheets. 

  • Medium = 1/2″ on each side
  • Large = 3/4″ on each side
  • X-Large = 1″ on each side

The X-Large grip is too big for my hands so I’ll ask Steve to do those for me if/when I need them. 


The same student also told me that if you punch a hole in the center of each paper it’s easier to remove them with a toothpick or awl which makes sense. I couldn’t find my normal hole punch so I used the one that cuts 1/8″ holes, 1/4″ would probably be better. 

Honestly, I have very little spare time for cutting hexies so I won’t use these often. But I’m happy to have them in my drawer, just in case :-).

FYI: I couldn’t find them from a quilt supplier so I looked on Amazon. 

When your ironing board needs a facelift…

I’ve had this ironing board from Reliable for many years and I love it, except for one minor thing. Well, two minor things. #1: The piece that slides onto the end of the board to square it up wants to come off when I fold it up and carry it to the closet (which rarely happens). I have trained myself not to grab it by it’s end. #2: The covers that go with the board do not want to stay on and they get dirty. (The getting dirty part is my fault.)

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Yesterday I decided that I would re-cover the board in the easiest way I could think of. I left the old cover in place and cut 2 yards of a more neutral fabric and trimmed it about 8-10″ bigger than the board on all sides. (I didn’t measure, sigh.) I pressed a 3″ hem on each side and ran a length of nylon cord inside the hem, thinking that it was easier to sew it in place than it would be to insert it later. I made a cut in the casing at one narrow end for the cord ends to go through.

Once sewn, I ran the ends of the cord through a toggle, placed the fabric right side up on the ironing board, and cinched it down. I stood the board up on it’s end for easier access. As I looked at the bottom of the board, it occurred to me that I could wire the two parts of the ironing board together. Why didn’t I think of this years ago?

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It turns out that I started with way too much fabric, but it works, but it did not fit the board tightly. The old cover has elastic bands that hold it tight and I borrowed that idea. I cut more elastic and used safety pins to hold it in place. Seriously, who besides me (and you) is going to know that I did it the easy way?

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I had not realized until I made this change how distracting the blue cover was. This quieter color is much, much better.

And, in case you are wondering, I have made serious progress on the Kauai Road quilt, seen on the wall in the first photo. Here’s a snippet, quilted. I love this quilt!

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Weeding tips…

anudge asked for tips on how I weeded out my stash. Here goes:

I used to keep my linen, vintage, hand-dyes, etc., in their own separate groups. I realized that I forgot about them when I was pulling fabrics for a quilt so I decided to merge all of my fabric.

I emptied the top shelf in my closet. I worked standing up at the long dresser in the bedroom where my fabric lives. I worked with one stack of at a time. I touched every fabric and decided to keep it, or not. The ‘nots’ went into bags.

The keepers were sorted into stacks of solids, lights, mediums, or darks. Where it made sense, I grouped similar shades of a color together. For example I have yellow-greens in one stack and blue-greens in another. I know that my stacks are going to eventually get messed up so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this.

Next I pulled my ‘special’ fabrics, sorted them and added them to the cottons in the closet. 1-yard big print pieces that will be used for backings are still separate.

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Let me show you how it works with a much smaller group of fabrics. The back story is that I have been inspired by friends to work on a quilt using Liberty of London fabric. My friend, Kathy (hi Kathy!) sent me a fat quarter bundle from the Liberty shop in London — how cool is that! I do love these fabrics from the bundle…

I don’t love these 4 fabrics. If they were just plain old fabrics in my stash, they’d be gone.

But I’m going to make a Liberty of London quilt and can’t afford to be picky! Plus all the fabrics in the bundle actually do play well together. (It goes to show that you can make just about any fabric work, but that’s another story.)

And the bundle fabrics look really good with my other Liberties…

So what does this mean? It means that there are some fabrics I like and some that I like less. When I have too much fabric, I have to decide what no longer fits. Making decisions is hard and it can wear you out if you over-think it. So I don’t think too much as I’m sorting. I put the cast-offs in a bag so that I’m not tempted to bring them back.

If you have more fabric than I do (and that’s a real possibility) I would suggest tackling one color at a time. If you start with yellow, pull all of your yellows, from everywhere. Put them on a big table or bed. Work through them. Put your tidy stacks on the shelves, ignore the cast-offs, move on to the next color. Don’t give up (you’ll be tempted). Power through it, you’ll be glad you did

 

Removing chalk lines…

Lorraine D. emailed recently asking me how to remove the white chalk lines that she’d used to mark her quilting design. I don’t mark tops often and when I have, the lines are usually gone by the time I’ve finished quilting so this isn’t something that I’ve had to deal with in a long time.

I do know that trying to erase the lines can mar the fabric so I wouldn’t recommend that. Washing can work but isn’t always an option. I suggested shaking it out like a rug, as long as that wouldn’t hurt the quilt. What I could picture in my head was the chalk dust flying out of the quilt. (Hanging the quilt on a line and whacking it with a broom also came to mind but that seemed extreme.)

But Lorraine came up with a better idea:

As I couldn’t sleep one night, I thought of placing it in the dryer with several bath towels, on no heat. I now have an almost perfect quilt. 

That is a trick I’m going to remember!


I think it looks perfect as it is :-).