Prewashing Fabric for Quilting

By Mary Covey

Fabric Pre-wash or Not?

To prewash fabric or not to prewash was the subject of my last post. It’s pretty easy if you decide not to prewash your fabric – you just cut and sew. But what if you decide to prewash? Are there any tips that can make prewashing results better? Here are just a few tips that I have learned that have helped me.

  1. Separate fabrics into lights, mediums, and darks just like your regular laundry.
  2. Before washing a color group, make a few small (1/4″) snips along the selvage edges of each piece of fabric. This will keep the selvage from shrinking up tighter than the rest of the fabric.
  3. Wash fabric in small loads, using a mild detergent that has no bleach additives.
  4. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These will make it difficult for the fabric to accept other processes easily such as fusible webbing or fusible interfacing.
  5. If you are worried about a dark-colored fabric bleeding even after you have washed it, it might be wise to do a colorfastness test before using that fabric. To do the test, cut a 2″ square of the dark fabric and place it on a bowl of hot water along with a 2″ square of light-colored fabric and swish. Check the light-colored fabric. If the light fabric picks up the darker color, you will need to wash the dark fabric repeatedly until the water runs clear.
  6. There are professional products that help set the dyes in fabric. They are usually sold at your local quilt shop or fabric store. If a fabric continues to bleed after using one of these products it would be wise not to use it in your project.
  7. Dry fabric on low heat. Neatly fold the fabric immediately out of the dryer. There is no need to press the fabric at this point. Place the fabric in your stash. The fabric can be pressed when you are ready to use.

These are just a few tips that have helped me prewash my fabric. I would enjoy hearing your tips. Happy quilting.



  1. frances says:

    I purchased your Follow-the-line Quilting Designs Vol 3……..I don’t undertand how I am to mark my quilt. Normally with a plastic template, there are lines cut out and I copy those lines. How am I to do this with your designs on paper?????

    • Hello Frances,
      Due to unforeseen problems , I have not been on my website for almost a year. This is the first time I have seen this message. I am sorry for being so long in answering. The instruction booklet that came with the book explains several ways to transfer the designs. One of my favorite ways is to use Golden Threads paper. You trace the design on to the paper, pin the paper to your quilt and stitch right on the line. The paper pulls away with out harming your stitches. I hope this helps.

Speak Your Mind