Modern quilts require modern quilt care. From choosing your fabrics, to a life of cozy snuggling, proper maintenance ensures your quilt will last from generation to generation. Most modern quilts are created for functionality and will at some point be washed. Invisible dirt builds up on the fibers and a quick Soak will remove dirt, refresh colors and revitalize your quilt. From the most delicate vintage fibers to resilient cotton prints, be sure to learn as much as you can about the fabric origin. Find out things like where it comes from, what kind of dye was used, any special care instructions and anything else that will help in deciding how to care for the fabric.
Washing your fabrics before you cut or sew is important. From pre-shrinking, to removing sizing, pre-washed fabrics make quilting easier. It’s important to use only washable fabrics in functional quilts. If you can’t wash the fabric, you shouldn’t include it in a quilt. Keep that precious fabric for quilt art, wall hangings or decorative pieces. Our general rule is that if you can get the fabric wet, you can Soak it, ensuring a clean, cozy quilt for life.
Pre-wash your fabric. Even commercial quilting cottons are better off pre-washed. Smaller cuts such as jelly rolls, layer cakes and hexies should not be pre-washed. They are delicately sized, and washing them before using them will distort them. You can wash fat quarters, or larger.
Test for color fastness and shrinkage, if necessary. If the color doesn’t bleed, carry on. Some fabrics that have “do not wash” warnings can still be hand washed with Soak due to the delicate formula, minimal agitation and cool water. If the fabric you have chosen absolutely cannot get wet, be sure to use it for a project that will require minimal cleaning as it will be difficult to care for it.
Pre-washing can be done by hand or machine. We recommend pre-washing and drying your fabric in the machine, if your finished quilt is destined for a loving home, and future washes. Baby quilts for example, will be machine washed many times.
Washing your quilt
Using a sink or basin, fill with enough cool water to have it flow freely around the fabric you are washing. Using enough water will ensure the dirt will be lifted out of the fibers and trapped in the water. If you are uncertain of the origin of your fabrics, separate lights from darks.
Use about a teaspoon of Soak or any delicate fiber wash, to every gallon of water. No-rinse formulas have low suds and may give the illusion that you are not using enough. You are. Be sure to only use the recommended amount when soaking your fibers. When you hand wash fabrics, you may see more dirt and over-dye than you’d expect. This happens in the machine too, you just don’t see it there. Fear not, over dye release is okay, and removing invisible dirt is your objective.
For machine washing, use Soak as you would a regular gentle detergent. Wash on the delicate or cool cycle. Remove the fabric to dry immediately after the washing cycle is complete.
To air dry, use a towel to gently roll up the fabric to help press out extra moisture. Lay the fabric down where air can flow from both sides, on a floor or bed covered in towels. Air dry outside if possible, on a flat clean surface. As mentioned, if your quilt will be machine washed and dryed when complete, you can dry your fabric in the dryer. During the pre-wash process, we recommend removing the fabric from the dryer while it’s slightly damp. This makes drying/ ironing easier. Finished quilts can be dryed in the machine. If you’ve used a batting that has shrinkage, you’ll get a nicely textured quilt.
Once your project is completely dry, store your quilt in a cool, dry area away from light. Remember to unfold and refold your quilts on a regular basis. Refold quilts in a different way, to avoid stretching the cotton on the fold line. A shelf in your closet is a good place to store your quilts, safe from dust. In the basement or attic may become too humid and cause molding. If you have animals who love your quilts as much as people, be sure to remove build-ups of hair on an ongoing basis, especially before storage.
The best place to store the beautiful quilts you’ve made and acquired is on a bed, on the sofa, on a wall or in a cozy place in your home. Places where they will be used, loved and admired. If you have a larger collection, rotate quilts, so they are moving from in-use to storage. Proper quilt care ensures your quilts will last the test of time, so you, your family, friends and future generations can enjoy your labor of love.