Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

How NOT to wash a quilt!

Yesterday you may have seen my HELP Facebook post. Here is the story……

I finally finished quilting the circle color wheel quilt (more to come on that later).

After squaring it up and applying the binding, it was time to wash out all of those blue lines and clean off all of those years of sitting in the closet waiting to be finished!

I started worrying about washing it from the moment I decided to use wool batting. After all, you have to be careful about wool felting!!

I did some research and found that it could be washed in cold water and laid out to dry, so that was my plan.

My initial plan was to put it in the washer with a small amount of clothes soap….

….and set it on Cold Wash!!

Unfortunately, with my “modern” washer, I couldn’t fill it up as far as I wanted so I ended up adding lots of extra water….

Once the cycle started agitating, I paused the cycle and used my hand to mash the quilt up and down in the water.

Then I set the washer on “Drain and Spin” and let it do both. I didn’t let it spin too long.

I then repeated this long process two more times to be sure and remove all of the soap.

While this was going on, I set up my deck to receive the washed quilt. I started with an old king-size blanket and added a plastic drop cloth.

I was SO excited when it came out of the washer for the final time…..

I took it to the deck and started opening it up.


…..a HUGE yellow dye transfer and additional bleeding on the white fabrics.


In my mind, I could see all of those hours going to waste. It was NOT a fun few minutes!!

SO, I now turned to the internet and started researching ways to remove the errant dyes.

First step was to fill a bathtub with cold water, adding “Dawn Ultra” detergent…..

….. and submerge the quilt…..

Then I noticed that the water was getting murky meaning that OTHER fabrics were bleeding as well.

Now remember……I religiously wash every fabric that comes into my studio, so this was really upsetting!!!

I drained the water and could see that the two problem areas were getting lighter so I wanted to continue soaking the quilt.

BUT, I didn’t want to give any other fabrics a chance to bleed!!

After wandering around the house for a few minutes, I found 3 plastic trashcans that I could put in the bathtub and prop the rest of the quilt up mostly out of the water, making a “well” to hold the soapy water. If I had to do this again, I would get a large plastic box, fill it with soapy water, and just soak the problem area.

I said a little prayer and headed to my office to work.

Two hours later I returned and was excited to find that the spots were gone!!!

I ran it through the washer for a quick spin and then to the deck.

One hour on this side…..

….and another hour on this side…..

….and it was ready for the bed!!!

SO….what was the problem???

I think that there simply wasn’t enough water in the washer and it allowed the fabrics to lay against one another. Next time I will use the bathtub method at the start!!!

It did make for an exciting morning but I guess “All’s well that end’s well”…….


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9 thoughts on “How NOT to wash a quilt!

  1. After having the dark blue backing of one quilt turn some of the light blue print patches on the front to gray (I think that fabric might have been made of rayon, because the other fabrics did not absorb the dye), I invested in a box of Shout Color Catchers. I now use them whenever I wash a bunch of new fabrics and every time I wash a quilt. I also include some whenever I give a quilt to someone.

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