Do You Wash Fabric Before Quilting? Pros & Cons

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Do you wash fabric before quilting? If so, what are the benefits? And what are the drawbacks? The answer to this question largely comes down to personal preference. Some quilters believe that washing the fabric first will help remove any excess oils or dirt that might interfere with the adhesive process, while others think that the fabric will be more likely to shrink if it is washed beforehand.

Ultimately, it is up to the quilter to decide what method works best for them. Whichever way you choose, remember to dry the fabric after prewash to avoid any shrinkage!

What are the benefits of washing fabric before quilting?

Are you wondering whether or not to wash your fabric before quilting? There are pros and cons to washing the fabric beforehand, so it’s important to weigh the two carefully before making a decision. Below we will discuss some of the benefits of prewashing fabric prior to quilting.

benefits of washing fabric before quilting

Prewashing Prevents Bleeding

Bleeding during quilting is a common problem, and it can be quite frustrating. By pre washing the fabric before you start sewing stitches, you’ll avoid any potential bleeding problems by removing excess dye in the new fabric.

Plus, washing will also remove any built-up starch or dye from the fabric – this helps to prevent it from bleeding in the first place. However, one downside of pre-washing your fabrics is that they may shrink slightly in size. Nevertheless, overall pre-washing offers many benefits for preventing quilting disasters!

Pre Wash Removes Chemicals

A prewash is a wash cycle that is carried out before the main wash in order to remove any chemicals or dirt from the fabric. Prewashes are particularly important for delicate fabrics such as silk or wool, as they can help to prevent damage during the main wash cycle. Prewashes are also useful for removing stubborn stains, such as grass stains or food spills.

To carry out a prewash, simply add your fabric to the washing machine and select the prewash cycle. The length of the cycle will vary depending on the type of fabric and the level of soiling. Once the prewash is complete, your fabric will be ready for the main wash.

Helps Remove Wrinkles

One way to help remove wrinkles from your fabric is to prewash the fabric before you sew it. This will help to preshrink the fabric and also give you a chance to test the colorfastness of the fabric. If you are using a pattern, be sure to prewash the fabric according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

During the prewash, many wrinkles will fall out of the fabric. This will save you time when you begin to iron the fabric with your quilting iron.

You can also try prewashing the fabric in a vinegar solution. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to a sink full of lukewarm water and soak the fabric for 30 minutes. Rinse well and then wash as usual. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener and can also help to remove wrinkles. Another option is to use liquid fabric starch. Simply spray the starch onto the fabric and then iron as usual. The starch will help to hold the fabric in place and will also give it a crisp, clean appearance.

Drawbacks of prewash fabric before quilting

There are pros and cons to washing fabric before quilting. The benefits of doing so include that it can save time and energy, and that it can help preserve the color of the fabric. However, there are also drawbacks.

Drawbacks of prewash fabric before quilting


When it comes to washing quilt fabric, the best option is can be to not to wash it at all. Washed fabric will shrink when washed before quilting and this can lead to inaccurate piecing or frustrating moments while quilting the project.

Additionally, another cause of fabric shrinks is the tumble dryer. If you find your fabric shrinks when drying by machine, consider air drying to prevent fabrics shrink.

Add Cost to Your Project

If you’re on a budget, pre-washing your fabric can add unnecessary cost to your quilt project. Washing and drying the fabric before you start quilting will likely require more batting, backing, and thread than if you were to just begin quilting with the fabric as is. So, unless you have a specific reason for pre-washing your fabric, it’s best to save yourself some money and skip this step.

It Takes Too Much Time.

There are a lot of reasons why many quilters choose not to wash their fabric before sewing. One common reason is that it takes too much time. Actually, washing the fabric beforehand can take up to 48 hours which is a huge amount of time when you consider the fact that quilting can be interrupted at any time!

Also, water soluble dyes in the fabric will be destroyed and the final product will look less good than if they were just left untreated. Better yet, if you do decide to wash your fabrics before quilt-ing – make sure to do it beforehand so as not to stress out over Water Spots ruining your hard work!

Unwashed can be Easier to Piece

Many quilters swear by the benefits of pre-washing fabric before quilting. This process can be time-consuming and it is often difficult to get rid of stitch lines afterwards.

Underside fabrics fray easily, which makes it hard to piece them together neatly – even if they are washed beforehand. On the other hand, if you do not wash your fabrics before quilting, you may find it easier to piece them together since the fabric will be less likely to fray.

About Pre-Cut Fabric

If you’re a quilter, chances are you’ve come across pre-cut fabric at some point in your sewing career. Pre-cut fabric is a time-saver, and many quilters often choose to wash the fabric beforehand to save time but should pre-cut fabric be prewashed?

Don’t Prewash Pre-cuts.

Don’t prewash your pre-cut fabric like found in many beginner quilt kits before quilting – washing it beforehand can damage it. There is no need to prewash all fabrics – some are better left un-washed. During a prewash, you run the risk of losing some of the color from your fabric as well as causing it to shrink. This can cause it difficult to get quilt patterns to line up or quilting borders to be square.

If you must prewash your fabric, use cold water and a gentle cycle. Once the fabric has been washed, dry it on a low heat setting or air dry it to prevent further damage. In addition, the pre-cut edges can fray causing the measurements to be inaccurate. If you’re using pre-cut fabric, it’s best to leave it as is and not wash it before quilting.

Prewashing helps reduce the time you spend on each project and also saves water. It’s a personal decision, so take into account the type of fabric, the purpose for which it will be used, and your own sewing habits when making this decision.

How to Wash Your Quilting Fabrics

Whether you’re prewashing your fabric before starting a new quilt or cleaning an old one, it’s important to know how to wash quilting fabrics properly. Prewash your fabric before cutting it into pieces on your cutting mat to ensure that it won’t shrink later on.

To prewash fabric, simply submerge it in cool water and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Then, gently agitate the fabric and rinse it thoroughly. You can either air dry your fabric or put it in the dryer on a low setting. Either way, make sure that the fabric is completely dry before you start working with it. Always follow the washing instructions provided on the fabric label for best results as different fabric types have different care instructions.

When it comes time to wash an finished quilt, use cool water and a mild detergent. Again, let the quilt soak for 15 minutes before agitating gently and rinsing thoroughly. You can either air dry the quilt or put it in the dryer on a low setting, but be sure to remove it promptly so that it doesn’t wrinkle. With a little care, you can keep your quilting fabrics looking like new for years to come.

Tips for Pre-Washing Quilting Fabric

It can be a bit of a hassle pre-washing your fabric before quilting, but the benefits can be worth it. Below we will discuss some tips that will help make the process go a bit smoother.

Tips for Pre-Washing Quilting Fabric

Sort the Fabric by Colors, Separate Lights from Darks

Before you prewash your fabric, it’s important to sort it by colors. Lights should be washed separately from darks, as darker colors can bleed and ruin lighter-colored fabrics. To sort your fabric, lay it out on a flat surface and separate the light-colored fabrics from the dark-colored fabrics. Once you’ve sorted your fabric, you’re ready to prewash it.

Prewashing helps to remove any dirt, dust, or other impurities that may be on the fabric. It also helps to prevent shrinkage and fading. To prewash your fabric, simply soak it in cool water for about 30 minutes before washing it in your washing machine.

Trim the Edges Before Folding Your Fabric

Quilting isn’t just a time-consuming process; it’s also one that can be fraught with frustration and problems if not done correctly. One of the most common issues is fabric fraying – this happens when the edges of the fabric fray due to constant rubbing together.

To prevent this, make sure to trim the edges of your fabric before you start quilting. This will also give your project a neater appearance and help avoid any wrinkles or holes in your quilt as a result of fraying. Pre-washing can save you time by getting rid of excess starch and detergent residues that could cause shrinkage during drying.

Never Wash Precut Fabric

When it comes to fabrics, one of the most common mistakes people make is washing them before sewing. This may seem like a harmless task, but in fact, it can have serious consequences.

Washing pre-cut fabric before sewing on your quilting project can decrease its durability and lead to pilling (small bumps). If done incorrectly, the fabric can shrink as well. On the plus side, pre-washing prevents shrinkage. So if you do decide to wash pre-cuts at all, be sure to follow these guidelines strictly!

Follow the Care Label Instructions

When in doubt, always follow the care label instructions! The care label exists for a reason and contains all the information you need to know about how to properly care for your fabric. If you’re ever unsure about something, refer back to the care label – it will never steer you wrong.

Should I Use Detergent for Pre Washing Fabric?

Choose a mild, all-purpose gentle detergent for best results. Avoid using bleach as it can damage the fabric and cause colors to fade. You can find detergent in the laundry detergent aisle of your local grocery.

Water Temperature

Use cool water when pre-washing your fabric. Hot water can damage the fibers and cause colors to bleed.

How to Dry Fabric After Prewash

Prewashing fabric is an important step in the sewing process, but it’s also important to dry it properly. There are a few different methods that can be used, and the best method will depend on the type of fabric and the amount of time that you have.

One option is to simply air dry the fabric. This is the safest method, but it can take a long time, particularly if the fabric is thick or bulky. If you’re in a hurry, you can try using a clothesline or drying rack. These methods will speed up the process, but they can also cause wrinkles.

Finally, if you’re really pressed for time, you can use a tumble dryer on a low setting. Just be sure to remove the fabric as soon as possible to avoid damage. By taking the time to dry your fabric properly, you’ll ensure that your finished project looks its best.

Hand Dyed Fabrics

If you’re working with hand dyed fabrics, it’s important to note that they may bleed during the prewash process. To prevent this, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water before soaking the fabric. This will help set the color and prevent bleeding.

When it comes to quilting, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to prewashing fabric. It’s ultimately a personal decision, and you should do whatever you feel comfortable with. Just be sure to take the time to research the pros and cons before making a final decision. By following these simple tips, you’ll be sure to have a beautiful finished project that you can be proud of.

Prewash All The Fabrics of the Quilt Backing

We have focused mostly on the pre washed quilt top up to this point but what about the quilt backing fabric.

For the uninitiated, the quilt backing is the fabric that forms the bottom or back layer of a quilt. It is generally a single piece of fabric but can be pieced together from multiple smaller pieces if necessary. The backing should be at least 4 inches larger than the quilt top on all sides to allow for proper finishing of the finished quilt.

Like the quilt top, the backing can be made from a variety of different fabrics. The most important thing to consider when choosing a backing fabric is that it should be sturdy enough to stand up to regular use. Weak or flimsy fabrics will deteriorate quickly and could cause the entire quilt to fall apart. In addition, if you have sensitive skin, choose a natural cotton fabrics for the backing. The cotton fabric will help to avoid any irritation.

Once you’ve chosen a backing fabric, it’s important to prewash the unwashed fabrics before beginning the quilting process. This will help remove any excess oils or dirt that could interfere with the adhesive process. It’s also important to dry the fabric properly to avoid wrinkles. As with pre washed fabrics for the quilt top, use the delicate cycle to prewash fabrics used for the quilt backing.

The exception is if you use a minky fabric or flannel backing. If you pre wash flannel, it will experience a lot of shrinkage. So it is best not to prewash flannel backing fabrics. Minky fabric can be prewashed on a delicate cycle but expect some shrinkage as well.

If you’re working with hand dyed fabrics, it’s especially important to prewash the fabric before using it for the quilt backing. This will help set the color and prevent bleeding. Simply add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water before soaking the fabric.

Prewashing fabric is an important step in the quilting process, but it’s especially important when working with the quilt backing. Be sure to choose a sturdy fabric and prewash it before getting started. By taking these simple steps, you’ll ensure that your finished quilt is beautiful and long lasting.

When To Prewash Quilt Fabric

The decision of whether or not to prewash your quilt fabric is a personal one. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, and ultimately it comes down to preference.

For me, if I am making a sensitive quilt such as baby quilts or fabric with vibrant dyes, I will always prewash the fabric. This is to remove any potentially harmful chemicals and excess dye. I don’t want the quilt to fall apart or cause irritation, so prewashing is a must for me.

Some quilters believe that prewashing fabric helps to remove any excess oils or dirt that might interfere with the adhesive process, while others think that fabric is more likely to shrink if it is prewashed beforehand. Ultimately, it is up to the quilter to decide what method works best for them.

Tips for Caring for Finished Quilt

Once you’ve finished your quilt, it’s important to take care of it properly to ensure that it lasts for many years. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

– Use a gentle, all-natural detergent when washing your quilt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, as these can damage the fabric.

– Never wash your fabric on a hot setting. Use cool or warm water instead.

– Avoid drying your quilt in direct sunlight, as this can cause fading. If possible, dry it indoors on a clothesline or drying rack.

– When storing your quilt, be sure to use a clean, breathable storage bag. Avoid storing it in a plastic bag, as this can trap moisture and cause mildew or mold to form.

By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to keep your quilt looking its best for many years to come.


So, what are the pros and cons of washing fabric before quilting? The benefits of washing fabric before quilting include the prevention of fabric shrinkage, fabric fuzz, and fabric pilling. On the other hand, the drawbacks of washing fabric before quilting include the potential decrease in quilting speed and the possibility of shrinkage or pilling in the quilt top. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you want to wash your fabric before quilting. However, we recommend that you prewash your fabric to reduce the chances of problems. Thanks for reading!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I minimize the chances of having any fabric snags while quilting?

There are a few things you can do to help reduce the chances of fabric snags while quilting. One is to avoid pressing down on the fabric too hard when quilting. Another is to make sure the quilt top is properly prepped and aligned before starting your quilting. Finally, use a quilting foot with a low-pitched blade that creates less fabric distortion.

Is there a time limit on how long I should wait after stitching my project before washing it for the first time?

There is no set time limit, but washing the project after stitching it for the first time is generally recommended to avoid potential fabric shrinkage or fabric fuzzing.

Can you recommend any safe ways to remove stubborn wrinkles from my fabric without machine washing it first?

There are many safe ways to remove wrinkles from fabric without machine washing first. Some examples include using a starch, ironing the wrinkles out, or using a hair dryer on low heat.

Which fabrics should I never wash before quilting?

Polyester and rayon fabrics should never be washed before quilting. In addition, pre-cut fabric should not be washed before quilting as it may decrease the fabric’s durability.

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