It’s time to pick out fabric and ready it for the quilt pattern you’ve been coveting. You look at the back of the pattern and say “challenge accepted”! I’m going to share some of my tips and some other information on quilt fabric that will make this challenge for you fun… not a chore.
Tip #1 – How Much to Buy?
Always buy a bit more fabric than required. Unless a pattern specifies that the fabric amounts listed already include extra, add about 10% to the amount you buy. For example, if a pattern calls for 1/8 yard, I’ll buy 1/6 of a yard. If it calls for 1/4 yard, I’ll buy 3/8 yard. It never hurts to have a bit extra and you can always use the leftovers to build your stash! Here’s a few reasons why I do this:
- When squaring up the fabric, it’s possible to lose some of the length if the fabric was wound a bit wonky onto the bolt.
- Or if you pre-wash my fabric, there could be shrinkage.
- Finally …. Cutting errors. We all have them!
My patterns already include a bit extra in the amount required, but not every designer does that. Here’s what the back of one of my patterns look like. Most patterns will have these requirements on the back.
Tip #2 – Pre-wash the Fabric or Not?
There are pros and cons to each. Some quilters swear by it and wash and iron the fabric as soon as they get home. Others, like me, do not pre-wash most of the time. I find that the fabric is easier to cut without washing because the fabric retains the sizing it came with. I also like that “antique” look when the quilt is washed after quilting. So, here’s some pros and cons below to ponder in making your decision. Keep in mind this is not a complete list, just things I consider the most important when making my decision.
• All the fabrics that are going to shrink will shrink so the finished quilt pattern is not ruined by fabrics shrinking differently.
• Certain fabrics might bleed, like purples and reds, and transfer to other parts of a quilt when the finished item is washed.
• Chemicals used in the processing of the fabric are removed in pre-washing. Some people are allergic to these chemicals so this is a benefit to them.
• It takes time. The extra steps of washing and ironing adds time to the prep when getting ready to make a quilt.
• It washes out the sizing. Some quilters like this sizing which tends to make the fabric easier to cut. I like the “stiffer” fabric that, for me, seems to cut easier.
• Most of the quality fabrics today do not shrink much and the fabric dyes are much more stable to prevent bleeding. There’s also laundry products, like Shout® Color Catchers, that prevent color transfer.
• Fabric edges fray which can distort the fabric. This will require you to waste more fabric when squaring up.
Tip #3 – Washing the Fabric or the Quilt
If you decide to pre-wash your fabric, here’s a tip to help prevent fraying. You can prevent most of the fraying by cutting a corner off the fabric or cutting the non-selvedge edges with pinking shears.
This also works well for fat quarters and fat eighths. For these smaller pieces of fabric, in addition to above, I will put them in lingerie bags. This keeps them from getting tangled up with each other.
Be sure to separate lights from darks and wash on a gentle cycle in cold water. I toss the fabrics in the dryer on “air fluff” only for about 10 minutes and then hang the pieces on a drying rack to finish the drying. This cuts down on the wrinkles a bit, that way you can save ironing for when you are ready to cut.
If you decide not to pre-wash the fabric, but wash the quilt, you can follow the steps I take:
When I wash a large or small quilt that I have made, I use the Shout® Color Catchers I talked about earlier and I have experienced no color transfer. Just be careful! If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t do it.
I always wash the quilt on the gentle cycle with cold water. I dry it on low, or even just “air fluff” for about 10 minutes and then lay it out flat or gently over a drying rack to finish drying. You need to be careful with draping large quilts over a rack because the weight of the wet quilt can pull at seams. With a large quilts it’s best to find a clean, flat area to lay it out to dry.
Next week, I’ll talk about some more fabric tips and also some cutting tips. Come on back next week for some more tips! But before you, go leave me a comment below on your thoughts on the fabric tips I’ve shared or some things you’d like me to share in the future. I’ll enter you in a drawing for my pattern Seaside Cottage just for commenting!
The drawing will be on Monday, July 6th so you have a couple of weeks to enter! **We have a winner! Congrats, Jane Harrington!**