Sunday, March 6, 2011

Color transfer in laundering

Mia's quilt border is an applique design by Julia Popa.  The machine quilting in the border is free-hand leaves and vines.

When I shifted to using mostly white backgrounds, I worried a bit about colors bleeding.  I usually pre-wash cotton fabrics, but in this quilt the pre-cut charm pack squares were sewn into the checkboard center before I thought about the possibility of bright colors bleeding. My final step with quilts is machine washing and drying, so color bleeding can be a disaster.  Fortunately, these fabrics are all absolutely color-fast. 

Pre-washing fabrics has plenty of advantages, but what if we didn't prewash that gorgeous dark red batik border, and it bleeds into the black and white fabrics of the quilt?  Does this sound like the beginning of a sad tale?  It's worse than sad, it was a Christmas Eve disaster, except that this story has a happy ending.  I washed the quilt again with a 'color safe' oxygen based bleach.  That helped, so I did it again, then washed the quilt a third time to be sure there were no chemicals left behind.  It will never be perfectly white and deep black again, but its pretty much white and convincingly black with a red border, rather than black and pink. 

Since my Christmas adventure, I've learned about Shout brand Color Catcher laundry sheets, an easy prevention of color transfer disaster.  So, yes, I usually pre-wash all my fabrics, but for those projects where there is any question, I use a Color Catcher sheet in the "I'm almost finished" laundering of new quilts.

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