Wednesday, July 11, 2012
This morning I plan to wash a few quilts. There are as many washing techniques as there are quilters and how to wash quilts is a constant inquiry on quilting forums.
Washing quilts was easy in Grandma's day ~ they went into the washtub with lye soap and rung out by hand and then thrown over the clothesline sopping wet to dry in the bright sunshine. I have witnessed my Grammy Rose take her quilts to the washboard if there were stains she wanted to remove! Does this make you cringe? Fortunately we have kinder options nowadays.
Quilts made generations ago were very seldom made with new fabric ~ they were made from old clothes, aprons, etc. Most of us buy new fabric for our quilts today. There is always discussion about whether fabric should be washed before making a quilt. Most of the quilters I know do not prewash fabric unless there is a bright color that they think might run in the washer and then that particular piece of fabric is checked before cutting. I prefer not to prewash my quilting fabric, but I do wash every quilt I make as soon as it is finished to remove any chemicals used in the manufacture of the fabrics, any soil from handling during sewing and to soften the fabric. I like my quilts to feel soft and snuggly and smell good. Another reason I wash after a quilt is complete is that I often sew with pre-cut fabric collections and they should not be prewashed. There is no right or wrong way, just remember that prewashing is not recommended for precuts. At one time I washed every scrap of fabric that entered my sewing room before it was put away.
My quilts are washed in a high efficiency washer (no agitator) in cold water on the delicate cycle. I use a mild liquid detergent and a little fabric softener. I always toss in 2 or 3 color catcher sheets to wick away any dye that might float around. These sheets can be found in the laundry aisle at your market or big box store. I understand they are difficult to find in Canada and other countries. After washing, the quilt is popped into the dryer on low heat until it is about half dry. While machine drying check your quilt often and reposition it so one section isn't against the hot part of the dryer drum too long. Once the quilt is about halfway dry, spread it out on a bed to finish drying. If you have a ceiling fan over the bed turn it on ~ that will speed things up. I flip my quilts over a time or two during the drying process. Make sure your quilt is completely dry before folding it if you will be putting it away in a cabinet.
Today I'm showing a picture of an old appliqued quilt made by Grammy Rose when my Nan was a girl, so this quilt is about 115 years old....
The pattern looks like a pansy to me, but Grammy Rose made it in pink so I'm calling it a rose. The edges of the flowers and leaves are blanket stitched in black embroidery thread and the hand quilting echoes the shape of the flowers and leaves for the most part. This quilt needs a little repair and I will take care of it this winter. It will be in good condition after I restitch some of the blanket stitches around the flower petals. I'm guessing this was a summer quilt because it's a lightweight quilt. I love this quilt and I'm so thankful it's still in the family.
Until we meet again...best wishes and straight stitches....Barb