Thursday, September 30, 2010

Colorbrick: Prewash & Press Fabrics

This post is part of a series {Colorbrick} a Beginner’s Quilt-Along.  You can join in anytime, even if you’re not a beginner!  Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

Are you ready to get started?  This first part is so easy, but it does take time.  We need to prewash all of those gorgeous fat quarters and your sashing/backing solids too.

  1. Prep Your Fabrics:  If you have a wide range of colors, separate your darks from your lights to guard against color bleeding.  If possible, place your fabrics in laundering bags for delicates.  This will prevent excessive twisting and fraying.  It works to double up, two prints two one bag, if the bag is big enough.  If you don't have any delicate bags, just go ahead without them (and be prepared with scissors and patience to deal with the results).
  2. Wash Cold:  Wash your fabrics on "light" and with cold water.  Do put in a little detergent to help remove manufacturing chemicals.
  3. Machine Dry:  If you're using delicate bags, leave the fabric in the bags and toss in the drier.  Loose fabrics should be untangled and trimmed to remove unraveled threads before machine drying.  It's ideal to remove your fabric when its almost dry, as a full dry will often set in wrinkles. 
  4. Iron:  Trim unraveled threads.  With your iron on it's highest setting and using lots of steam, iron out each piece and fold into a delightful little stack.  Enjoy the process! 
Next up:  Rotary Cutting 101.  I can't wait to start cutting!!!


  1. This is a great beginners tip! Prewash! One thing you might add is to never use fabric softners when you prewash (either in the washer or dryer), especially if you plan on doing any applique.

  2. Fabric are washing and drying as I type. Oh so excited to make a quilt. A little nervous too I must admit.

    Blessings, Elizabeth

  3. EEEP! I can't believe I'm doing this!! I never thought I'd be able to make a quilt! So excited. Can't hardly type.

  4. I've never been a prewasher before (because I'm lazy), but I'm following the rules and prewashing for this quilt. I finally got around to washing, drying, and pressing my fabric today (I made myself wait until I finished my regular laundry), and I have to say I really like the result!
    Can't wait to get cutting!

  5. Do you also prewash your batting? I got warm and natural twin size, and the packaging says it shrinks 30% when washed. Or do you just put the batting in the quilt and wash/dry it after assembly? By the way, thanks for this quilt along, I'm starting my first quilt right now!!

  6. No, I don't prewash my batting, but I usually use repurposed blankets for battings. If you want a flatter look, prewashing the batting is the right idea. Rita of Red Pepper Quilts prewashes hers.

  7. Hi Rachel!
    I'm so enjoying your blog and totally inspired to make a quilt for the boys. My goal is to make one for each, size twin bed. As well, i LOVE the brick and would love to make it for our bed.
    I was a little discouraged today after heading to the local fabric store and leaving with only a pitiful amount of suitable cuts.
    So here's the rub: fabric choices are nil in chain stores. Do you only buy your fab fabric online? If so can you recommend your favorites? I honestly dont want to spend a ton but there were NO suitable fabrics for the boys quilts... arg.
    Thanks so much!!!

  8. Nice to meet you, Onna. Affirmative - I only shop online. I have the same disappointed feeling about chain stores. My sponsors really are where I shop so check out the right hand side of my blog in the columns. Many of them are Etsy stores, which have the best prices!

  9. Rachel, I'm late coming to this but fell in love with the pattern and the line! And I just love the idea of using linen. So, here's my question: can I wash the linen but not the prints? Reason is that I'm using fat eights and they are already too small (so I'll be adjusting my brick sizes as well as the joiners). Thanks!

  10. Well, you can do that, but I'm not sure how it will effect the quilt. I've never tried that! Linens shrink more than cottons, so I do think you should definitely wash those. It'll probably be ok?

  11. I'm about to start this quilt (my very first one) and I washed the fabric yesterday without reading this post. I opened up the washing machine in horror to a bunch of tangled threads. It was awful. I cut them all apart and let them air dry because I was terrified of putting them in the drier. Now, after reading this I feel much better! So thank you for this post. I'm sure they will all be this helpful!

  12. Hi I just found this tutorial and I think I am using it to try my first quilt...Ack. Anyways so many other people wait to wash fabric til after its alldone. Why do you prewash. And if I didnt how will it affect this quilt?


  13. Since fabrics shrink at different rates, prewashing ensures that your finished item will stay the size you intend and not shrink up funny. Most people don't prewash and don't have trouble with our high quality designer quilting cottons. I still do prewash because I work with fabric all the time and don't want to be handling all the chemicals that are on freshly manufactured fabrics to make them look smooth and to make them colorfast. I prefer to wash the chemicals away and then work with the fabrics.


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