Why Preshrink Fabrics Before Quilting

There seems to be some debate out there as to whether to preshrink fabric before using it in a quilted project. I for one will always treat my fabric first before working with it. Here’s why I do it and how I do it.

First, before working with the fabric at all, I preshrink it. I do this for TWO reasons. Here’s the “WHY.”

(1) It will tell me if the fabric is colorfast. The LAST thing I’d want is to complete a project only to learn that one fabric bleeds. My customers or gift recipients would not be happy with what I made if it ended up as one dull color after being washed. No one wants that. Subjecting the fabric to hot water first will tell me if it will bleed. If it does, I treat it to stop the bleeding before going any further with it. THAT’S the subject for another blog post!

(2) Different fabrics will shrink at different rates. If untreated fabrics are used in a quilt project, you may end up with something quite skewed after it’s washed and dried. Again, my customers or gift recipients would not be happy and so neither would I!

Even if you like the crinkle look that aged projects have, it’s still necessary to preshrink the fabrics before working with them. That being done, simply use cotton batting that has NOT been preshrunk. Then you know that your finished project will have an evenly crinkled look after it’s laundered. You will have treated any bleeding fabrics and your project will look very nice for a long time to come.

Now…That’s the “why.” So, what’s an easy way to preshrink fabric? Here’s what I do…

Plug the kitchen sink, then fill it with hot tap water. Place one fabric at a time in the hot water and make sure it’s totally soaked. Leave it there briefly (a minute is enough time). I then squeeze out what water I can and wrap it in a clean dry towel to remove what excess water I can. Then I place the fabric (not the towel) in the dryer on high heat until it’s dry. This usually doesn’t take long. I suggest you don’t overload the dryer. This will allow the fabric to dry quickly plus it will minimize fraying of the raw edges.

After the fabric has been dried, I like to iron it with a steam iron to be sure it’s totally dry, shrunk, and smooth. That also makes it easier and more accurate to cut. Done! The whole process is really simple and fast. It’s well worth the effort to avoid unpleasant surprises with your finished project!

Hope this helps,

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