A couple of years ago I wrote my tutorial for dealing with bleeding fabrics....and quilts. It's the most read and linked page on the whole web site. It's also the subject of over half of the communications that I get through the website. It's the reason that this button is front and center on my home page.
People email me with questions and they email me with their gratitude. What they don't know is how grateful I am to hear about and see their saved quilts. Yesterday I heard from Teri Routledge from Logan, Utah. She was kind enough to send me lots of photos and the story behind her quilt so I could share it with you today.
It all started with this beautiful quilt. I'll let Teri tell the story from here and you can see all of the photos in a gallery at the end.
This quilt was made for my son and daughter-in-law for a Christmas present. I pieced and machine quilted it with all my love. I have been quilting for almost 20 years and use only quality fabrics and thread from our local quilt shop. I was so proud of this quilt and even made a special label for it. But when I put it in water to block it, it bled terribly. I have never had this happen before and I panicked! First I took it to two different laundry/dry cleaners to see if they could fix it. Both told me they couldn’t do a thing after a few test attempts. Next week is Thanksgiving and I am leaving in two days to drive 1200 miles to see them and wanted to deliver the quilt in person. I am almost out of time, the dry cleaners had it for several weeks. I scoured the internet looking for a solution. There had to be someone, somewhere, who has experienced this. I came across this website that gave excellent instructions using very hot water and Dawn dish soap. I thought – what do I have to lose? I have spent several hundreds of dollars already and so much time. First I cranked the hot water heater to full blast. I filled our jetted tub half way with ½ cup of Dawn Platinum soap and placed the quilt in the water, gently agitating with a long wooden spoon (the water was hot!). I continued to put more hot water in every 20-30 minutes (when the hot water heater would recover). After about 75 minutes the water was so dark and purple that I decided to drain and start over. I agitated throughout the day but my quilt soaked for 7 hours total. I was leaving in 36 hours, I had to see the results. I drained the very dark purple water yet again and gently squeezed it enough to get it to the washing machine. It looked promising. I have one of those low energy, low water washing machines and I was skeptical that it wouldn’t be able to rinse it enough with all the soap already in it. I put it on the bulky, hot water cycle with a double rinse. The results were AMAZING. It was restored. I have it hanging over a folding wooden clothes dryer to dry overnight and the next day. I will pack it right before I leave and cannot wait to deliver it. Now, what to tell my kids…
It was a quilt like this that started me on the path to find a way to fix bleeding quilts and to prevent it from happening in the first place. In that first quilt a customer had blended my hand dyed fabric with commercial fabric. When she washed it the first time it bled like crazy. After a lot of testing of my fabric and others in the quilt I think we eventually figured out that it was the backing fabric that bled and backstained on her quilt. But my hand dyed fabric did still bleed some and I knew I had to fix that.
With as much as Teri's quilt bled it had to be the backing fabric. She bought all high quality fabric but even those bleed from time to time. The only way to prevent this from happening is to PRESOAK, not pre-wash, your fabric. Any commercial fabric that I buy spends the night in a washer full of hot water ad Dawn. If they bleed the water is drained and they get to spend another 8 - 12 hours soaking to get all of the excess dye out of them. Doing that with fabric is a lot easier than dealing with the quilt later. I hope you will consider pre-soaking your fabrics to make sure they are absolutely colorfast. I pre-soak all of my hand dyed fabrics so that you can use them right away in any project that you want!
Thank you Teri for sharing your quilt with us!
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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