The general rule of thumb with quilters regarding fabric regarding pre-washing is that you should treat your fabric the way you plan to use it. Thus, you wouldn’t necessarily need to pre-wash your fabric if you were making a wall hanging, but it would probably be a good idea to pre-wash your fabric if you were making a quilt for a bed.
This was the general rule of thumb – or so I thought. Then I started seeing these pre-cut quilting squares. Oh, I liked those! I don’t have much problem when it comes to sewing straight, but for some reason cutting straight can give me fits. I have a good cutting mat and rotary cutter, I have several different rulers, I even have a device for holding my ruler straight, but it never fails: I tend to cut crooked. I am hopeful that I will get better with practice. In the meantime, I started to salivate when I looked at the precut squares.
But then it hit me – have these precut squares been pre-washed? So I emailed the seller of the squares, an individual at a fabric store. I received a rather snippy reply telling me that, “GOOD quality fabric NEVER needed pre-washing”. Hmmmm…. The fabric at issue was still 100% cotton. Was it just because it was a designer’s 100% cotton that it wasn’t going to shrink? I didn’t feel like pursing it further with this seller as I didn’t like the initial reply I received with capital letters.
However, I still coveted some precut fabric squares. I saw some lovely batik squares for sale online, and I emailed the seller about whether these had been pre-washed. This time I hit pay dirt. I received an email back from Chris Bahur, the owner/operator of Twin Orchards Textiles. Chris explained to me that no, the squares had not been pre-washed, but that batik fabrics did not need to be pre-washed. Chris told me that, “When batiks are painted, wax is used to cover the patches of color so that the dyes don’t run together during the painting process. When the batik is done being painted, the fabric is washed in boiling water to remove the wax. This boiling pre-shrinks batiks before they even make it to a shop’s shelves.”
This made so much sense! I was thrilled to buy these squares, not just because Chris had taken the time to explain why pre-washing wasn’t necessary, but also because his response made so much sense. The response that “GOOD quality fabric NEVER needed pre-washing” just didn’t make sense to me. We quilters and crafters in general need to ask questions when we don’t understand something, but we also need to use our own common sense.
Batik pre-cut squares it is for me. Thanks Chris!
Email interview with Chris Bahur, owner/operator of Twin Orchard Textiles