I always wash my quilts before using them or giving them away. I’m a spray baster, and a good wash releases the adhesive. I usually hand-wash my quilts in the washing machine. I pour in some Soak liquid, fill the basin up with water, and throw my quilt in. I agitate the quilt a few times by hand, let it soak for a bit, drain the water, and spin the quilt. (Soak does not require rinsing.) I then pop the quilt in the dryer on low for 20 minutes or so and hang it up to finish drying.
I followed that procedure for Christmas in Bold Colors except I was out of Soak and substituted Woolite. When I went to hang the quilt up to finish drying, I discovered this:
In the past, I’ve used Retayne, a color fixative, prior to cutting and sewing my fabric. I last used it on this quilt, which features deep burgundies next to light fabrics. In fact, one of the burgundies bled so badly during the Retayne process that I chose not to sew with it. The others bled much less and posed no problems when I washed the finished quilt.
The fabric that bled in my current quilt was a red Quilter’s Linen, from Robert Kaufman. I’ve bought Quilter’s Linen in at least a dozen different colors and haven’t had any problems. I suspect that the red would have bled badly in a Retayne wash. As a result, I would not have included it in the quilt, and Christmas in Bold Colors would be in the hands of the intended recipients by now.
Adequate Soap or Detergent
I tend to skimp on the soap or detergent I use. I figure that washing is a way to release the spray adhesive—it’s not like these quilts are dirty—and I don’t need that much. I’ve read since the bleeding incident, however, that soap helps prevent any released dye from adhering to fabric.
The bleeding pattern on my quilt bolsters this theory. I experienced bleeding on only one half of the quilt. I’m sure that I folded the quilt loosely in half and placed it in the washer. I suspect that the side that was face down, which likely had more surface area covered with the soapy water, was the side that did not bleed.
Regular Wash Cycle
I like to hand-wash my quilts, figuring it’s less wear and tear on the fabric. Perhaps if I had allowed the washer to do its job, the soap would have been better distributed in the water and the bleeding would have not happened or would not have been as bad as it was.
Shout Color Catcher Sheets
I own a box of Shout Color Catcher sheets. I’ve used them in the past plenty of times. I didn’t use them this time. I have no idea why. Perhaps if I had thrown a few into the washer, they would have adequately sopped up the excess dye. Sigh.
My Happy Ending
After a few days focusing on different projects, I took a nap with the quilt—for real. (I’d like to report that it was my way of saying, “We’re in this together, Quilt! We can get through this!” But in all honestly, I was just too lazy to walk upstairs and get a different one.)
Then, following the advice of Vicki Welsh, I filled my bathtub with 140-degree water and plenty of Tide Free and Gentle Detergent, a dye-free product I had on hand. I weighed the quilt down with the lids of plastic containers just as Vicki did and agitated the water every so often. After two and a half hours, I developed a tick—I had to see what was happening to my quilt! There was progress. The fabrics with white backgrounds were free of red dye, but the stained green fabrics were still a problem.
In the end, I let my quilt soak for 5 hours. (Vicki recommends going as long as 12!) By that point, I was pleased with the results. There are still some spots with light discoloration, but you’d have to go hunting for them:
|The fabrics with white backgrounds look awesome.|
|There still is a slight pink shadow on a green fabric or two. I am OK with that.|
|And we’ll live happily ever after ... until I ship it to its forever home. : )|
To read more cautionary tales, see these posts.
Got your own tale of woe or triumph? Share it in the comments!
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