Friday, January 29, 2010

Quilt washing hangups

Thanks for all your suggestions about cleaning my quilt yesterday. The gummy stuff came off with some gentle scrubbing and left no stain, just the smell, but once I'd rubbed off the gummy stuff, I had to get the kids from school. When I returned the patches had dried and I had trouble finding all the patches needing odour treatment. I could smell the fish but had trouble pinpointing exactly where I should be treating. So in the end, I went with Katie and Christine's suggestion, took a deep breath and dumped the whole thing in the washer and dryer after all.

Here's what I discovered. I lack confidence in my workmanship. I'm always sure that when I put a quilt in the washer, even on the gentlest cycle, all those stitches, both machine piecing and hand quilting, will just pull apart. I'm always convinced that I'll find tatters when I pull the quilt out of the washer. Maybe the colours will all bleed, even if I pre-washed the fabrics (and did I forget to pre-wash some?). When that doesn't happen, I dread the dryer because maybe the batting will shrink too much, or the weight of the wet quilt tumbling around will pull the stitches apart... You get the idea.

I blame all those quilting books that I love to read, that all have a section on "care of quilts" that insists on gentle hand-washing and laying flat to dry, and expounds on the dangers of regular laundry detergent and the necessity of supporting the massive weight of a wet quilt, and so on and so forth. There were no quilters in my family, so no quilts, so no other experience to go on. So I stressed about washing my quilts.

I'm over that now :) . My quilt survived its washing and drying just fine. Maybe it won't last a hundred years and be passed down to generations to come (or maybe it will!). I've decided that I make my quilts to be used and enjoyed now, and any longevity is a bonus. If I didn't care about the sun bleaching and the LEGO wearing down the fabric in my son's first quilt as it lay on his bed for 5 straight years, why should I worry about using the washing machine and the clothes dryer?

For those of you who might be wondering, the dog is still alive and well and we are friends again. He really is beautifully behaved most of the time - which is good because otherwise relations with my mom might be a tad strained when she comes back in the spring and collects her pooch. Did I mention we're only dog-sitting?


  1. I'm glad the quilt came out okay. I just recently started pre-washing fabrics after seeing a few quilts bleed. I thought twice about throwing them in the washer and dryer, but not because I read all sorts of books telling me not to, just becuase I'd heard it wasn't "proper" quilt treatment. Guess I'm glad I didn't know better because I probably would have worried too! (Now let those quilt police stew over this one for a while...gasp...washing a quilt like clothing...GASP!)

  2. LOL, now you know why it took me so long to attempt my first quilt! All the books made it seem so difficult to even get started. Believe it or not, every one of the five quilts I have made have all been machine washed and dried upon completion. I had to know they were going to stand up under the stress, cause you don't think the recipient will think twice about washing and drying, do you? Just think, those lovely pioneer women who used to make quilts from every scrap they could save used to have to wash them in cold water, outside with lye soap (if they ever washed them at all). I am betting they would have loved our modern washers and dryers.

  3. I'm happy for you too! I really figured it would stand the wash test, but wasn't sure whether or not you had washed it all before cutting. A couple of Shout Color Catchers in the washer might have been a good idea. (Now I tell you, right?) I wash all fabric before cutting; quite often even before I store it in the stash. I leave the 'ravel' threads on it when I press it so I can tell it was washed and ready to go when I drag it out later to cut. I admit I'd have been stressed too! ---"Love"

  4. I'm glad to hear it came out OK, too. I do put mine into the washing machine on delicate and dry them in the dryer, but didn't want to suggest that because it wasn't my quilt. It all worked out and everyone is still breathing! You won't have to explain a missing pooch to your Mom.

  5. Good for you!!! I'm glad it all came out well. Its always worked for me in the past and I am in the school of no prewashing except for baby quilts. :) Christine

  6. I'm so glad that turned out well for you. Now, here's a confession for you- I have a couple of "show" quilts that I do the finicky thing to hand wash and lay flat to dry. (Although I do have undisturbed space upstairs where it can lay flat to dry.) However, I have decided in recent years that there is also a "usable" category of quilt. For me, they are mostly my scrap quilts. These I throw in the washer and dryer all the time and I like the "wrinkly" look they get. I think they make you much more inclined to snuggle up in.... :) Theri

  7. Perhaps this experience is just what you needed to put your quilting into perspective. I really like your thinking - I too make quilts to be used and suggest to the recipients a couple of ways to care for the quilt. Delighted that you were able to remove all stains and smells; the dog is still allowed to stay with you and your mum doesn't have to buy a budgie when she returns home. Happy Quilting, Ann :-)


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