Tag Archives: Quilting fabric

Fabrics That Bleed

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.

 

Cotton — Printing Designs

Last time I showed you batik production. Today I thought you might be interested in printed cotton production. It is a largely automated process, rather than with such intensive manual labor like batiks.

There are two videos below. The first one is from Robert Kaufman and lasts less than 10 minutes. It gives an overview of the printing process. It includes recognition of design and the interaction of the U.S. offices with printing factories in Japan and Korea. There is no narration but there are a few captions and some pleasant music.

The second one is almost 19 minutes long, and includes narrated detail about the factory process. Fabric preparation (after weaving), printing, and finishing are included. If you have time, I think this one is more informative. If you have a half hour, you may enjoy both.

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary

Cotton — Batik Production

Do you use batiks in your quilts? Their beautifully illuminated colors and organic designs work well for many quilt patterns. The firm, smooth texture makes applique easy with little fraying. Their potential for bleeding in the wash scares me a bit, though, and I don’t use them a lot.

But they do work well in some projects. When I use them, I mix them with solids, traditional florals and geometrics, and more contemporary prints. For me, batiks are just one more way to obtain the colors I want.

Below are two different videos. One is a short video by Hoffman showcasing the creation of batiks in Bali. The other is about Moda batiks and takes about 17 minutes. I do not know if it is officially a Moda video. It shows the process in Indonesia. Neither video includes narration, so if you don’t like the music, you can mute the sound.

Both videos show how incredibly labor intensive batiks are, with multiple hand applications of dyes and resists. If you have time, you may find both very interesting. I won’t make any claims about the safety of conditions for workers, but it did give me pause.

[The second video no long is available, as of this March 20, 2018 update.]

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary