Friday, August 31, 2012

Wash that quilt...or not?

After all the work we put into a quilt, sometimes it's hard to think of it taking a trip through the washing machine...and maybe even the dryer!
Not all quilts need to be washed, but when I am planning to sell it, or I realize how much Shayla O'Puss "helped", I know it has to be cleaned. And when I sell a quilt that is meant to be used and loved (i.e. a utility quilt) that's especially important.
Cherry-cherry always washes her quilts, and she has a point: that's how they get the soft and crinkly texture most people love!
We're both working on finishing quilts to sell in the QuiltFest sale room, and this year they'll have a special additional tag that says the quilts have been pre-washed and give a few care suggestions.
It can be scary to wash a quilt, especially when you aren't positive about the condition of the fabrics: were they pre-washed? are they still  full of dye anyway? were they so cheap they are only held together by the excessive amount of sizing/starch?
Here is an example, my Homespun Christmas Quilt:
Disclaimer: only the side filler triangles are actually homespun!
This is the quilted but un-washed quilt. It is not heavily quilted, having just an X of stitching through each 6" block. The batt is an 80/20 cotton/poly.

Un-washed back
The backing fabric is something really stiff and cheap, beside being darker than this picture shows. So I had no idea what would happen when it gets washed.
I always wash with cold water and a minimal (if any) amount of detergent. For this one I also put in 2 sheets of dye catchers. After the wash, it went right into the dryer.
NOTE: this is NOT the way to clean a vintage quilt!!!
So how did it fare?
Very lazy quilting!

It does have a softer look! A judge would say "Needs more quilting" but it has enough to hold it together.
How about the back?
Very cheap backing fabric!

Also much nicer. The green did not run!
This would have a much nicer "crinkle" if it had more lines of quilting.
And guess what? I just may put some more in! Yes, you can add quilting when it looks like this, but you also have to be careful to ease the fabric where it has puffed up. And after it has a lot of texture, you shouldn't mess with it....unless you enjoy having lots of pleats stitched in!
If I do quilt more on this, the top will be fine, since I can control that. The back will probably get a few, as usual, it's another decision to make!

With Turn In Day only a week away, I have to switch gears and get my entry ready. It seems no matter how "finished" you think that quilt is, it always needs something right before the show: sleeve, label, last few embellishments...and probably some cat hair removal!
Shayla is a dedicated "helper", which means she likes to sleep on any quilt she can get at.

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