A few years ago my son spent some weeks in India. While there he bought souvenirs for me, of fabric pieces printed with traditional Indian motifs. I washed one piece with a load of low-risk clothing items, including socks and towels. The pale yellow towels were dulled with a muddy tone, and the socks turned from (basically) white to dingy grey. It was not my most successful load of wash.
Yesterday’s post was on quilt police, and the few rules I believe strongly about in quilting. One of the rules I follow (and don’t expect others to) is to prewash my fabrics. I prefer to prewash, for multiple reasons.
One is because some fabrics bleed dye in the wash, like that Indian fabric did. If they are going to, I prefer it to happen before sewn into a quilt than after. When I wash, I use dye- and scent-free laundry detergent. If washing new fabric with a lot of color, I usually throw in a color catcher, too. Sometimes the color catchers collect a lot of dye; other times they don’t.
It’s possible that takes care of the problem for all time. It’s also possible that once I’ve given quilts away, and the new owners wash them, the fabrics bleed and make tremendous messes I never learn about!
If you have a quilt or fabric that bleeds, is there a way to fix it? As a matter of fact, yes. Here is a link to a blog post by Vicki Welsh, a fabric hand-dyer, called Save My Bleeding Quilt. She demonstrates a variety of methods to rescue fabrics from dye bleed. After testing Synthrapol, Dawn Pure, Dharma Textile Detergent, and Kirkland Free & Clear Ultra Laundry Detergent, she shows results for all four. She provides full instructions for use, and encourages you to share the information. I have not used these instructions, so cannot vouch for them myself. Take a look. Share it if you find it helpful. (Please respect her authorship and keep her name and links with it.)
Have you ever had problems with fabric dye bleeding in the wash? Were you able to fix it? Have you had an important item ruined from bleeding? Tell us about it in comments.