Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The importance of washing in earnest...

A couple of weeks ago, when the students in my beginners class were learning to calculate seam allowances and co-ordinate block components by combining their knowledge on four patches and diagonally split squares into the pattern “Underground Railroad”, I had brought my own UFO and got to work on it a little bit. Unfortunately, the very effective steam iron in the sewing room where the class takes place, caused some bleeding in a red fabric.

This is a hand-dyed fabric I had bought somewhere before I had taken up serious hand-dyeing myself. However, I had not washed it after I bought it, figuring that a hand-dyed fabric had to have been washed sufficiently... Luckily, this case of bleeding could be repaired. And I went back and checked all the other blocks I had prepared for this project, removing a few other triangles I had cut from this fabric.

A few days ago, I finally had pulled myself together and started quilting another Play of Lines which had been sitting on my table, waiting to be quilted, for several weeks. 

Some difficulties with tension, getting re-acquainted with the machine and machine quilting as such, forced me to take out a few sections.

Now of course there were holes that needed to be dealt with.

So I applied “Krauseminzewasser”, which is supposed to easily close holes. It does – but, again with a red fabric I had bought somewhere and used in this quilt side by side with mine – a case of bleeding happened when ironing the piece.

This time, repair is not possible. The quilt has been quilted two-thirds, there is no possibility to take out and exchange the pieces. It is ruined, might only serve as practice material for exercises in machine quilting.
I am rather frustrated, as I had wanted to enter this quilt for Quilt Nihon. The only consolation I can find in this is the fact that my own red fabrics did not bleed. Gives me hope that my customers will be spared this kind of frustrating experience when using my hand-dyed fabrics. And I now - again! - know why I wash my fabrics so frequently. Steam ironing might already cause the damage, it does not even have to be a full-blown washing of the quilt.


  1. have you tried washing in synthropol? I find when dyeing sometimes there is bleeding from one fabric to the next but washing gets it out.
    Might not work now, but it is worth a try

  2. this is horrible! can you cut out the bad part and have a smaller quilt? you must be just sick over this.

  3. Hast du schon mal versucht, den ganzen Quilt zusammen mit 3-4 Farbfangtüchern in der Waschmaschine zu waschen? Hat bei mir bei einem weiß-roten Quilt, bei dem einige rote Stoffe ein wenig bluteten, geholfen.

  4. Thanks, Pam, Kathy, and Carola for the sympathy expressed and the good advice. I will definitely try the washing-with-synthrapol before I do anything else! I had thought of cutting it up into something smaller, but as of now that has not convinced me. Though I will let that thought go through a little more brain fluid in case the synthrapol doesn't work!

  5. I just keep my fingers crossed for you and hope that the bleeding washes out - what a nightmare !!!

  6. Another possibility is over-dyeing - perhaps this, like cutting down, is a last resort! You probably know the work of C June Barnes, who saves the dyeing till the quilt is finished.

  7. That is terrible. I gave some of my hand dyes to a friend and she had the same problem. I was certain that I had washed out all of the dye residue and I always use synthropol. Since her quilt was completed, I suggested she try wetting the section where the red bled onto the white, and using Borax and a soft brush, try scrubbing some of the "pink" from the white. I have done this in the past with some success. I also use "Color Grabbers" in the washer and dryer - not sure if it really helps, but might be worth a try.