Saturday, February 6, 2010


This post should begin with.....Do as I say, not as I do!

I'm often asked by students whether I prewash's a tip I share that assures all my washable fabrics have been tested for colorfastness. AND....more importantly, what happened when I got lazy!

Before adding any (washable) fabric into my stash, it first goes to my laundry room. There I have a basket of 2" squares of muslin and small safety pins. I attach a square to each piece of fabric and run it through the washer and dryer. Some dyes will stain the water but unless you stand there and watch you'll never know. The muslin will pick up excess dye from the washer AND any dye transfer that may happen from friction in the dryer. Normally, if there's a problem.....I just get rid of the fabric, preferring not to even deal with it.

Well.......I got lazy. I've been using Primrose Gradations hand dyed fabrics forever and never had a problem. I KNOW it's hand dyed and I should still have test it....but it's hard to break apart all those lovely bundles, so I'm now paying the price.

At our PTA retreat...when I was nearly finished with my quilt I noticed a problem with my red fabric after spilling water on my pressing surface. Darn it!! So I stitched some scraps together, wet them and let it sit on a paper towel.....oh my....trouble. Completing the quilt would have to wait until I got home and could address these offending blocks.

With the layout of the blocks was already finished...each one having been carefully positioned and pinned onto the flannel design "wall"....I needed a method of keeping track of the blocks that bled. Kate suggested I mark each block using a permanent pen and a code - row #10 - (block) # 2. Great idea....normally I put post-it notes on my rows to keep track of the order, but obviously that wouldn't work here.

With the guidance of several PTAer's I purchased Synthropol to wash out the excess dye. (Thank you Judy, Kate, & Lynne) This product needs to be used in very hot water and since we have very cold well water, which never gets hot even in the hot cycle of my machine, I opted to wash them in a bucket in my sink with water heated on my stove.

I also added a dye catcher cloth to help sop up the excess dye.

Before dumping in all the blocks, I tried just one....following the Synthropol formula instructions.
Yeah......I could see a little bit of red in the after the required stirring time, I rinsed and rinsed the block and let it dry. Ta da......the excess dye was gone and the red fabric was now stable.

Next I added the rest of my blocks.....LOOK at how much dye came out of only 17 blocks, most had only 1 red patch. Astonishing.....

Then.......I rinsed and rinsed......until I was confident that all the dye was gone. The moral of the story....always test your fabrics before using them.

Tomorrow, assuming we have power....we have another snow/ice storm going on.....I'll show you the quilt which is now pieced together.

1 comment:

Teri said...

Hi Mary,
You are so right. Once I took months piecing a miniature quilt. I got to the point of quilting it, and when I sprayed to remove the blue marker, the blue fabric that I had dyed myself, bled. It pretty much ruined it. So after a mourning period, I finished quilting it, and soaked the whole thing in OxyClean, which made it a whole lot better. One of the fabrics absorbed more of the dye than any of the others, so it is an odd color, but other than that, it is hard to tell that there was even a problem. While going through UFO blocks the other day, I found about ten 6" blocks that are white with hand appliqued hand dyed fabrics for the design. I see another disaster in the making. I have learned my lesson to.