No Quilt Police Will Be Called…

I belong to this Quilt Club that is a part of my guild.

No, it’s not like Fight Club.  Not really.  It began as a History Club and we discussed different historical eras and their quilts and different groups and their quilts until I think finally we were all discussed out.  So, we changed the name to from History Club to Quilt Club so we could do lots of things – not just historical issues.  Susan Pierce is our leader and one of the events she plans for us each year is a Mystery Quilt.  She picks out some blocks for us to make.  Each different set of blocks has a theme. This year it was Patriotic/Election-Related/Presidential blocks.  There were six blocks total and she gave them to us in two different sizes (6-inch and 12-inch) and from there it’s ours to do with what we want.

I love projects like this.  It allows me so much creativity.  Since there was a patriotic theme, it was suggested that we do them in red, white, and blue.  However, since my last Mystery Quilt with these folks used those colors, I didn’t want to use them again.  Hence, my Mystery Quilt began to meld with the goals I had set out for myself in my Year of Fearless Quilting.  Remember one of those goals was to use a color way that I had never used before and definitely wouldn’t be my first choice in the quilt store.  With that in mind, I picked Connecting Threads Firenze line.


These were the six blocks that Susan gave use – one a month, for six months.

Those of you who know me can readily recognize that while I am more than comfortable with small blocks, these definitely were not colors I have used before in any quilt.

So now that I have them made, I pondered what to do.  This is where your creativity can run wild.  Instead of feeling limited with the number of blocks, my mind was all over the place with what I wanted to make.  I am one of those quilters who happens to love Electronic Quilt, so I began to play with layouts until I came up with this rough draft.


While not all my blocks were going to be the same, now I had a good idea how many additional ones I would need to make – 10.  Since the blocks that Susan gave us were older blocks, I began looking through Barbara Brackman’s Block Base and my Farmer’s Wife Quilt books to see what I could find.  I wanted blocks that would echo the lines and patterns of the blocks that I had made with the original six blocks, but not were not quite the same.  And I expanded my color palate with additional Firenze pieces.  These are the blocks I came up with:

I began to frame them with my focus fabric…

DSC01088 (1)


It was at this point that Sam began to take particular interest in this project – more so than his usual sitting stance of sitting on my sewing machine so I will stop and pet him.  It’s as if he knew he was going to take center stage in this project…and maybe he will.

If I could wish anything on quilter’s it’s this:  Don’t be afraid to do your own thing with what you are given.   Quilting is a lot like life.  We go day-by-day with the ordinariness of it.  We get up.  Go to work.  Come home.  Take care of the house and the kids and the yard and the laundry.  Life is compounded with ordinariness.

It’s what you do with the ordinariness that makes it a life.

Same with quilts.  Don’t be intimidated if you’re handed a bunch of blocks you don’t know what to do with.  Don’t be worried about following a pattern right down to every period in the instructions.  Let your creativity come out to play and try new things.  Make it your own.  In every quilt you make, go out of your way to change something – no matter how small – in order to make it yours.  I promise you the Quilt Police won’t arrest you.

And you’ll have a wonderful time unleashing that creative part of you.


Until next week, Quilt Fearlessly.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Fearless Scrappy

As you know, this is the Year of Quilting Fearlessly…


Part of the reason I wanted this challenge for myself is that I have found myself quilting in my comfort zone for quite some time and was no longer happy with the results.  I found my quilts becoming too predictable and too much of the same thing over and over again for me to be challenged with my art.  Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes at the end of a hard day, sitting down to the sewing machine with some mindless piecing is just the thing I need to reconnect with my inner creative Sherri.  However, I have learned over the course of my now almost 56 years that the people, ideas, and things I value the most are the ones that challenged me to think out of my comfort zone.  The students that I still seek out to stay in touch with and think of fondly are the ones that kept me on my toes the most – in a good way.  They were the ones that were always one or two steps ahead of me in their thinking with the curriculum and they were the ones that made me push myself as an educator.  The ideas that have had life altering effects are the one that made me think out of the box.


So, as you know, the first thing I have worked with is Santa’s Loading Dock.

santa's loading dock

I am still working hard on this, but can only do work on this one in starts and stops, as it literally sucks all the brain power out of my head.  It’s a detailed quilt with poorly written directions.  But I’m having lots of fun and have learned to let Linda and Lisa stay about two steps ahead of me so I can learn from them.


The other type of quilt I wanted to learn to make is a scrap quilt.  To those folks who don’t quilt, it may seem like scrap quilts should be the do-all and end-all of all quilts, since a great deal of the quilts our foremothers made were just that – scrap quilts.  But to those highly initiated into today’s quilt world of guilds, bees, workshops, Craftsy Classes, and Facebook groups, a scrap quilt is almost a foreign idea. Lines of cotton and flannel fabrics are carefully designed to appeal to quilters and the colors weave their way into a quilt almost seamlessly and the results are beautiful.  There are countless lines of blender fabric and basic colors out there to guarantee that your stash is workable and almost any quilt would benefit from some of them.


Heck, I’ve written countless blogs on fabric.

But all the quilt making that I’ve done owes itself to The Quilt That Started It All for me:


Some of you may remember this quilt.  This is a quilt made by this lady:

Grandma Perry 2

This is my Great-Grandma Perry.  I know this isn’t a very good picture of her, but it’s all I have.  She made this scrap quilt.  According to my mother (her granddaughter), Grandma Perry and her sisters would piece and then get together to quilt or tie the tops.  This quilt is quilted with large-ish stitches and the batting and backing were blankets from the nearby Fieldcrest Mill in Eden, North Carolina.  I think that it’s the neatest thing in the world that my mom can identify some of the fabric in this quilt.  Yes, some of the pieces are Feed Sacks, but Mom can look at this quilt and tell me, “This was from one of my mother’s dresses,” or “This is piece is from one of my granddaddy’s shirts.”


After Mom gave me this quilt, I researched it and wrote up what I know about it.  And then it stayed in my bedroom on a bench and every day I would look at it and think, “I want to learn to do that.”


So, I learned how to piece.  And then I learned how to quilt.  I am largely self-taught, and have made lots of mistakes and learned from each one.  However, in these days of coordinated fabric lines and tons o’ material choices, I had never ventured to make a scrap quilt.  Frankly, the thought of adding lots of pieces of different values and hues of all colors intimidated me quite a bit.  But recently I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a workshop taught by Augusta Cole, whose theory is “It all goes together, honey.”

I had to bring 288 colored squares to this workshop, matched with 288 squares of a background.  It had to be scrappy.


For years, I was known as the Fat Quarter Queen because almost every project I made was small. I didn’t have a lot of time as a single mom (at that time) with two kids and a full-time job.  Nearly every project I made was small so I could compete it and feel like I had accomplished something.  I only made one large quilt every year to eighteen months.  So, my stash has lots of fat quarters of all colors.  I literally just pulled them off the shelves in random order and began cutting.  This was the results.


This is only the first block of my scrap quilt.


There are a few things I want to change, but I can’t tell you how liberating it was to use up most of my stash (!) and to truly see that everything does work together.  Scrap quilts are like life – no people are the same, but don’t we all work together to make a world that’s interesting!


I can mark one more item off the list of my Year of Quilting Fearlessly.  My scrap quilt will go on retreat with me and I hopefully will finish most of it there.  I can’t wait to see it completed. Pictures will follow for sure.


Until later, quilt fearlessly!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Don’t Go Against the Grain

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to teach heirloom sewing.  Heirloom sewing is a type of garment construction primarily aimed at children – or rather the parents and grandmothers of children – and primarily female children.  The clothing drips in shaped lace, entredeux, yards and yards of batiste, and hand embroidery.  It is decadent, gorgeous, and tons of fun to create.

One of the first details I had to learn (and in turn, teach my students), was to make sure that the fabric was put “on grain.”  This term means that the warp and weft threads of the material were as close to 90-degree angles as I could get it.  If the fabric was nearly perfect in warp and weft, it meant that the skirts of the dresses wouldn’t sag in the middle of the hem – the hem would lie at an evenly, parallel to the floor all around the  skirt of the dress.  And when a garment takes three yards of material for a dress for a three-year old, “on grain” becomes very important.  No one wants to put that kind of money and time in a frock only to have it sag in the middle of the front.

When I began quilting, I assumed that warp and weft and being “on grain” didn’t matter that much since the pieces in quilt blocks were so much smaller than the pieces in a dress for a little girl.  But with quilting, as in lots of fiber arts, the devil is in the details and it really does matter.  The larger the quilt and the larger the blocks, the more apparent it comes when something is off-grain instead of on-grain.  If you’re making a large quilt with large blocks (and by definition, this for me is any block eight inches or larger), the blocks can distort far more easily and the top sag in places.

So, let’s consider the following drawing:

warp and weft

With fabric, when it is cut from the bolt and unfolded, on either edge of the length of fabric is the selvage.  The material that runs parallel to the selvage is the lengthwise (warp) grain of fabric.  The material that runs perpendicular to the selvage is the crosswise (weft) fabric.  When quilters cut strips of fabric to sub cut into other pieces, the strips are generally cut along the crosswise grain because this gives the pieces a little more ability to stretch.  That may not sound important, but when you have anywhere from an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch difference in pieces, that added ability to meet ends of rows or points becomes very important.  Ideally, borders are cut on the lengthwise grain because that grain cut is not stretchy.  Borders should be firm, framing your quilt, and keeping the finished measurements stable.  The 45-degree angle cut across the lengthwise and crosswise grain is the bias cut, and this cut has the most stretch in it.  Bias cuts are sometimes used for binding, such as if the border is scalloped.  The ability of the bias binding to stretch and lie flat around curves and sink easily into the valleys of the scallops make this cut ideal for those situations.  And for those of us that applique, the bias cuts are particularly wonderful for loopy stems and vines and curvy petals and leaves.

Scalloped borders

When purchasing fabric from a quilt shop, the material is usually of better quality than big box store fabric and it’s handled a little differently.  Salespeople generally use a rotary cutter or tear the fabric, which helps keep the grain straight – especially if the fabric is torn.  Fabric will always tear on the straight of grain, which means that when you fold the fabric to cut it, when you match up the torn sides, it’s automatically on the straight of grain.  Fabric from big box stores is often the second-runs and may be really off grain.  However, we all buy that fabric, so how do you correct it?


The easiest way is to tear it from selvage to selvage. Snip the fabric about one inch from one of the sides of the fabric, making sure to cut through the selvage and then tear it.  When you get a clear tear from selvage to selvage the fabric is now on grain.  This could take place in one try or it may take several. “Now wait a minute,” I’m hearing some of you say.  “That’s wasting fabric.”  And clearly it could be.  Sometimes straightening fabric this way can use as much as an eighth of a yard.


So, what’s a quilter to do?  If the quilt blocks are comprised of tiny pieces, then don’t worry about it too much.  By the time all the pieces are sewed together and quilted, the quilt is stabilized and it won’t matter too much.  However, if the blocks are large and have large pieces, it will matter.  And if you’re sinking that much money and time in a quilt, and you’re worried about the fabric being on grain, purchase a little extra and give it a tear to make sure that warp and weft are on 90-degrees.

Large blocks, such as these from The Country Inn Quilt, should definitely be cut on the straight of grain.  Small blocks, such as the ones below from  The Farmer’s Wife Quilt wouldn’t necessarily need to be cut on the straight of grain because the blocks are 6-inches finished, the pieces are so small, and I paper-pieced them


There are a couple of exceptions to this rule – stripes and plaids.  Sometimes putting these fabrics on grain will skew the print of the stripes or plaids, since fabric isn’t always printed on the grain.  When cutting these fabrics, follow the design and not the grainline.  If, while working with these prints, you discover that the fabric is so horribly off-grain that it’s bowing and skewing, you may want to completely discard it.  Or you may want to try paper piecing the blocks, if they lend themselves to this technique.  Quite often, the additional paper or muslin foundation will add a little more stability to the fabric.


I hope that everyone made it through Irma safely.  I read truly heartbreaking accounts of quilters faced with hard choices – what to take and what to leave.  And their hopes that when they did get to return home, that everything they held dear would somehow make it through the storm.  We got a little wind and about two days’ worth of rain but that was it.  For that I am very thankful, but am worried about my quilter friends in Florida that I haven’t heard from yet.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Irma is No Joke…



Okay, so this blog was supposed to be about the importance of the straight of grain, warp, and weft, and how to straighten your fabric when it comes off the bolt looking like it’s one martini short of a three martini lunch.

However, Irma has interrupted my plan.

When I write what I consider to be instructional blogs, I make sure I have ample time to research them and even more ample time to write them.  Sometimes it’s harder to make people understand a “word picture” than an actual picture.  I often find myself deleting entire blogs paragraphs because I don’t think they’re very understandable.  I knew that would be the scenario this week – lots of writing and editing.

Then came Irma.

I don’t live in Florida, but am concerned because I have friends there and it looks like the entire state is going to take a hit.  I just read a headline that said Disney World is considering closing, so this hurricane is serious, folks.  I do live in North Carolina and we are supposed to begin feeling Irma’s wrath somewhere between Sunday and Monday – at least that’s what the weather forecasters are saying now.

But Irma’s flexible.  She could change her mind and come earlier.

And since I’m the one in our household that thinks about such things, I morphed into “Hurricane Preparation Mode” this afternoon. Now you have to understand this situation in North Carolina.  Our entire state will shut down if there’s less than an inch of snow.  Lots of other folks make fun of us because of this.  But the fact is we know we don’t know how to drive in the stuff because we get so little of it.  So, if the Weather Channel breathes a whisper that we may get snow or ice, there’s a mad dash to the local Teeter my grocery store of choice because of the wine selection for bread, milk, coffee, and alcohol, and then we hunker down because we know sooner or later, the power is going to go, too.  Unlike some of our Northern neighbors, we have not learned to run our utilities underground.  If we get ice, we just assume that our power is going to be down for at least 24-hours.

We understand snow and ice.  Hurricanes, not so much.

You would think living in the state that has been such a big part of historically huge hurricanes that we’d react a little quicker.  Nope.  I believe that the fact that we’ve survived so many of these makes us a bit jaded about the inconvenient possibilities this girl could punch.  When I checked out my groceries at the Teeter at Adam’s Farm this afternoon, the lady commented that I bought more than usual.

And I did…two cases of water, two bottles of 19 Crimes, charcoal, fresh fruit, extra cate food, cat treats, and two disposable litter pans, etc.

“I’m prepping for Irma,” I replied as I fished out my debit card and swiped it through the meter-thingie.

She looked at me for a long minute, like she thought I had grown three heads.  “You’re the first one…”

Never let it be said that I’ve ever been fashionably late for anything.  Even a hurricane.

Irma is serious folks.  If your state has ordered an evacuation, evacuate.  If not, and there’s local flooding, stay off the roads.  Hunker down.  Let Irma pass.  If you keep your power, piece some of those UFOs that have been languishing for months because you never have the time to get to them.  If the power goes out, pull up a chair to the window and hand applique or hand piece for a while.

I’m at the age where I don’t like inconvenience and appreciate the little things in life.  So, I have chocolate.  And coffee.  And water. And good wine.  And extra cat food because Sam has got to be happy, too.  I filled up my car with gas.  I have hexies cut out to hand piece in case the power does go out. I’m about ready as I can be.


Irma can come…I just hope she doesn’t stay long.


Please be careful folks.  Keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe.  We’ll deal with warp and weft later.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


To Prewash or Not to Prewash…that’s the question.


I would like to discuss a topic today that can be a hotbed of controversy among quilters.   It’s a topic that’s only been approached by the bravest of quilt bloggers and it’s one that I’ve seen guild’s nearly split apart over.

And that topic is pre-washing your fabric.  Should you, or shouldn’t you?  Being the PC person that I am, I’ve always thought it was a personal choice and it was none of my business (or anyone else’s) about what you do with your fabric.  It’s a personal decision and it’s your choice.  Nobody should try to tell you what to do with your own fabric.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme. However, it does tend to be a hot topic of discussion among fiber artists.  Some folks feel that it’s an extra step that takes away time from piecing and quilting.  Others believe that with the advent of Color Catchers and better dyeing methods, it’s obsolete.  And then there’s that die-hard group of traditionalists that prewash any piece of fabric that comes their way.

So, with all this controversy, who’s correct?

First, let’s differentiate between prewashing fabric and bleeding fabric.  Yes, one of the reasons to prewash fabric is to try to prevent one color fabric from fading onto another fabric (bleeding), but some fabrics will bleed regardless of prewashing.  We will pick up the topic of bleeding fabric at the end of this blog.  For right now, let’s just consider the reasons why you should seriously think about prewashing your fabric.



  1. It may be dirty

Yes, even though it just came out of the quilt/fabric shop, it still could be dirty.  Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily clean.  Consider this:  It’s manufactured in one place, may be dyed and treated at another location, shipped to a warehouse for distribution, trucked to your local store, and may be stored there as well before it’s placed on a shelf where God knows how many hands have touched it.  Yes.  It may be dirty.


  1. You may want a soft fabric to work with

This is especially true with hand piecing, hand quilting, or hand applique.  Sometimes removing the finishing chemicals off the fabric makes it easier to handle.  This also gives you the option of using the amount of starch or sizing you want to give it the feel you need it to have in order to execute the technique you’re using well.

  1. You may want a smooth-looking quilt

Prewashing the fabric removes the shrinkage factor.  If a quilter is working with 100% cotton fabrics, some shrinkage will occur and often it will occur at different rates between fabric manufacturers, even though all your fabric may be 100% cotton.  If you throw different types of fabric into the equation (homespun, sateens, cottons, etc.), you really have upped the differences in shrinkage.  Homespuns shrink more than cottons.  Cottons shrink more than sateens. When every inch of material is prewashed, that shrinkage factor is removed and if a smooth quilt is what you’re working towards, this is just about guarantees that appearance


  1. Allergy Irritants

I have a pretty low-tolerance for allergens. Perfumes, powders, dust and the like sends me into a sneezing frenzy.  By prewashing fabrics, I’ve removed the chemicals used to finish the fabric (the compounds used to make the fabric look “pretty” on the bolt) that tend to flake off and irritate my allergies.  If you’re like me and have a sensitive nose, you may want to prewash your fabrics just to make your sewing life more comfortable.   You don’t want to sneeze all over your pretty, new fabric.

  1. Most of the time, prewashing will help prevent bleeding

Prewashing does remove excess dye; however, it does not in and of itself, prevent all bleeding.  Please continue reading to the end of the blog to refer to bleeding fabrics.

Are there reasons not to prewash?  Certainly.  A few of them are:

  1. Unwashed fabrics have a crisper hand

When the finishing chemicals are left on the fabric, it’s crisper.  It also sews and presses better.

  1. You want an “antique” look for your quilt

Unwashed cottons used in a quilt, along with untreated cotton batting can produce the soft look and feel of an antique quilt.  Don’t prewash your fabric and quilt the top with an untreated cotton batting.  Bind it.  Throw it in the washer on a delicate cycle and let it air dry.  It’s at this point, the fabric and batting will “pucker” due to shrinkage and give your quilt that soft, antique look.

  1. Perhaps the quilt will never be washed

If the quilt is destined to be a wall hanging, it can certainly fall into this category.  If it’s an heirloom quilt that will be looked at more than it is used, that also falls into this category.  I guess my question is at this point, do you really know that for sure?  Who’s to say that your great-great descendants won’t throw the quilt into their Maytag?

  1. Time

As I said in at the beginning of this blog, it’s another step and it’s time that could be spend cutting the quilt out or piecing the blocks.

The fact is, to prewash or not to prewash is entirely up to you, what you want your quilt to look like, and what kind of time you have at your disposal.  No matter what method you decide on, please do:

  1. Be consistent – Either prewash it all, or prewash none of it.  That way you will know how all of your stash has been handled, no matter when you acquired the fabric.
  2. Use the bleed test – This will be given in detail a little further down in my blog.
  3. If the quilt is for a child, prewash the fabric for no other reason than to make sure the fabric is clean.
  4. Despite whatever anyone tells you, there are no quilt police – No one needs to “fabric-shame” you no matter what technique you decide to use.

So what side of the fence to I come down on?  I prewash everything, primarily due to my sensitivity to allergens. I also prewash because I’ve had some horrendous experience with bleeding fabrics.  It’s an extra step, but I’ve prewashed all of my fabric since I started quilting in the mid-eighties, so it’s just a natural step for me.  Is prewashing fabric any different than doing laundry?

Yes.  But it’s no harder.  There are just a couple of things to keep in mind. First, use cool water and the delicate cycle.  If you dry the fabric in the dryer, use a low heat setting and a delicate setting.  Otherwise, sort your fabrics into lights and darks.  One thing to consider here is soap.  A pH balanced soap is best, such as Orvus (which may simply be label “Quilt Soap” at your LQS).  If you can’t find that, it’s fine to use regular laundry detergent, just don’t use one with the optical brighteners (Ivory Snow works well).

Fill the washer tub with water, put the soap in and agitate it enough to mix the soap evenly.  Turn the machine off, unfold your fabric (this helps to prevent the folds from “setting” into the material), and distribute them evenly throughout the washing machine.  Turn on the machine and complete the cycle as normal.  If you use a dryer (I don’t – I air dry my fabric), tumble on low heat and take out while the fabric is still slightly damp.  If you’re using the material immediately, press it.  If it’s going in your stash, fold it neatly.

Now remember what I said about prewashing in and of itself does not prevent bleeding?  What are you supposed to do about a fabric that tend to still bleed despite prewashing?  How do you know if a fabric may be a bleeder?

Commercial fabrics are colored with dyes, that are for the most part, pretty color-fast.  Dyes today are greatly improved than the dyes used even 10 years ago.  However, there are still some fabrics that will lose color when they’re washed.  If this color is transferred to surrounding fabrics, then your fabric is a “bleeder.”  This is where washing material in cold water is a good idea – cold water tends to limit bleeding altogether or at least minimizes it.

When the bleeder fabric transfers its color to an adjacent fabric as they rub together, it’s called “crocking.”  This can happen whether the material is wet or dry.   I’ve had backing crock on me when the quilt was in the process of being quilted, even though I had prewashed the fabric. For me, if a fabric has that much potential to crock or bleed, I toss it.  It’s just not worth the risk.  Darker fabrics tend to have more of a reputation to crock and bleed – reds, deep blues and purples, dark browns, dark greens, and blacks – they all could possible undo months of patient work.  I’ve also discovered that batiks are notoriously risky fabrics to use unless they’ve passed the bleeder test.  What’s that?

Glad you asked.  It’s a simple, quick test that will let you know how much of a risk that beautiful fabric is.  Take about a 3-inch square the fabric you need to test.  Then cut a 3-inch white squares of material.  Fill a container with cool water – somewhere in the 80-85 degree range – and add 1/8-teaspoon of Orvus Soap (Ivory Snow will do in a pinch, but use a teaspoon of it).  Stir to distribute the soap and add the two fabric squares to the container.  Stir often for the first few minutes and then let it sit for 30 minutes. Check the container and see if there is any dye in the water.  If it’s not then you’re good to go.

If there is, repeat this process, but when you take the fabric out of the water, lay the white fabric square right next to the colored fabric square and let them dry.  If no dye transfers to the white square, you’re probably okay to use the darker fabric.

If the colored dye has transferred, there still are a couple of steps you can take to see if it’s usable.  First of all, there is a product on the market called Retayne.


It is a color fixative intended specifically for commercially dyed fabric.  This can be purchased at most quilt shops and big box stores.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions completely.  The material must be agitated in hot, hot water (read 140 degrees) for 20 minutes, rinsed in cool and dried immediately.  Since the water has to be so hot, use not only the “Hot” cycle on your washing machine, but also cut the cold water off in the back of the machine – just in case.  Treat the fabric before putting it in the quilt.  After treating with Retayne, use only cool water on the finished project.

Truthfully, if you read the product reviews about Retayne, it’s a mixed bag.  Some people had great results, some people had horrible results.  I personally think it depends on if you can get the water up to that 140 degrees that makes the difference.  Rit also has a dye fixative, but it’s only for projects that have used Rit dye in the process.

There is also this little product called Synthrapol.


Synthrapol is a surfactant that is usually used in the hand dyeing process.  Chemically, it’s a cool product.  It keeps the unattached dye molecules suspended in the wash water instead of allowing them to settle back onto the fabric.  You may use a surfactant every day and not realize it.  If you wash dishes with the blue Dawn dish detergent, you know the power that a surfactant has.  It’s the surfactant that doesn’t allow the grease molecules to settle back onto your hands or your dishes.  And the surfactant is only found in the blue Dawn.

Could you use blue Dawn for small pieces of fabric as a surfactant?  Yes.  But if you’re stabilizing yardage, you will probably want to stick with Synthrapol.  And keep in mind that neither Synthrapol nor Retayne are 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time.

If all else fails, and you just have to have that particular fabric in your quilt, you can keep prewashing it until it doesn’t bleed anymore.  However, if there is any question at all about the fabric, I wouldn’t use it no matter how much I loved it.  The possibility of it bleeding all over a quilt I had spent hours and hours on just isn’t worth it no matter how much love is there.

And if you had the heartbreaking, soul-numbing experience of having a fabric bleed on your already completely constructed quilt, there are a few things you can do to try to salvage it.  First, don’t use heat of any kind on it – no warm water, no hot water, no dryer, no iron.  Heat sets the stain permanently.  Don’t let the quilt stay folded up when it’s wet – that’s a sure-fire way for it to crock more.  Let it dry flat and try some hydrogen peroxide on the stain.  If all else fails, after it dries, wash it again and use a Color Catcher.

I know what some of you are thinking.  “That’s a whole day’s worth of work that I could spend cutting my fabric or sewing on my quilt.”


However, an ounce of prevention has always been worth a pound of cure.  I steadfastly admit that I wash every piece of fabric I get.  After it’s washed, dried, starched, and ironed, I clip a small corner off of the piece.  This indicates to me that I have processed the fabric.  Generally, I do this as soon as I purchase it and get it home.  I treat the fabric the same way I would a quilt – it’s washed in cold water, on a delicate cycle, and air dried.

Does it take a lot of my time?  Yes.

Have I ever had a fabric bleed on a quilt I made? Nope.

I rest my case.


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


**Notes from Julie Baird’s blog, Generations Quilt have been used in this blog.