Or alternate title: Why You Should Always Prewash Any Washable Fabric.
The first quilt class I signed up for was cancelled. I was so disapointed – all my fabric and supplies were bought, I had a brand new sewing machine, and I was itching to make something. I had enough fat quarters to make at least 2 quilts, if not more, so I decided I could make a simple quilt on my own, and still have enough leftovers for the rescheduled class the following month. My friend, Maya, and I had seen a quilt pattern in a book made up of big squares with sashing of rectangles and little squares. The grid pattern looked easy enough for me to attempt on my own. I decided on how large I wanted the big squares to be, how wide I wanted the sashing to be, and added seam allowances of 1/2 inch to each side to get the measurements for the cut pieces.
We had just gotten satellite tv with tivo and I was hooked on quilting shows. From watching the shows, I knew about cutting the pieces, pinning them, and sewing them together. I also knew I needed to decide if I was going to prewash all my fabrics, or not wash them at all. I was eager to cut into my fabric and decided not to wash any of them. Fast forward a few months…all my pieces were cut and most of them were sewn together into rows. We were moving so I packed up the unfinished quilt top to finish once we were settled in the new house. I had a new baby, but he took naps so I could sneak in some sewing time. I even had a sewing table where I could leave my machine set up, as our office room had a built in desk for the computer. I finished the quilt top, and it looked great. The small squares in the sashing allowed all of the pieces to line up easily. I decided to wash to quilt top as I now was in the camp of pre washing all fabrics before sewing. As I pressed the newly washed quilt top, I noticed some squares seemed as it they hadn’t shrunk at all – the batiks. Batiks are washed many times during the dying process and have little shrinkage. All of my quilting cottons had shrunk. It hadn’t occured to me that some of the fabrics in the quilt would shrink and some wouldn’t. This was going to be an impossible quilt to machine quilt since the fabric won’t lie flat. I don’t want wrinkles caught in my quilting lines! Why didn’t I wait until the whole quilt was done to wash it?!? I love the crinkly quilt look of antique quilts and would have loved the results no matter the shrinkage. I was disgusted with myself and folded the top and put it away to deal with at a later point.
That later point turned out to be today. I pulled the top out and decided I should cut the rows apart, remove the batik prints, recut them, then sew the whole thing together again. Once I identified all of the batik squares – at least one and sometimes up to three in every row – I was less eager to rip so many of the seams in my quilt apart. All of that time and thread would be wasted, and I was less excited about redoing the entire quilt. Suddenly, another solution came to me – I could hand tie the quilt. The extra fabric wouldn’t matter so much if it was tied and the ties would work really well with the design of this quilt top. I’ve always wanted to hand tie a quilt and now I had a good reason. Now, to find the perfect color of embroidery floss…