These Colors DO Run

It’s always bugged the heck out of me – those bumper stickers, you know, the ones of the American flag that have the caption “These colors don’t run.”

Of course they would run.  Red and blue fabric dye are the least colorfast dyes ever.

This post is a happy little PSA for anyone who plans to start sewing, quilting, or in general working with fabric that you later intend to wash.

For the love of god, please PRE-WASH YOUR FABRIC.

Pre-washing is a lot like preventing fuel transfer when playing with fire toys.  When you spin poi, you spin off excess fuel before you light the wick to reduce the chance that the fuel will transfer to your skin or clothes and you go up in smoke.  Likewise, pre-washing fabric ensures that dye won’t transfer onto other fabrics in the washing machine and ruin all your pretty color schemes.  I’ve always pre-washed fabric, especially cottons (don’t buy into that pre-shrunk BS).  If you’re working with patchwork or any sort of quilting, pre-washing is especially important if you want to make sure that the fabric won’t shrink when it’s washed later (and potentially pull out all your stitches), or the colors won’t bleed into each other and ruin your pretty patterns.  Run some cold water with a quarter to half a capful of a mild detergent (I use VASKA eco-friendly laundry detergent, it smells like lemons and I love it!) and wash each piece of fabric individually.  You can use the same water for like colors (reds with reds, purples with purples, etc.) if you want, but do so at your own risk – sometimes the color will transfer just from the dirty wash water.

This is doubly especially the case if you’re using hand-dyed fabrics like batiks.  They tend to be less color fast than commercially dyed fabrics and will bleed like crazy, even if you pre-wash.

I mention this because I’ve been washing all my batiks and my bathtub is now a technicolor bathtub:

I’ve been on my knees in the bathroom washing fabric for the last two days, with a brief run out for lunch with my sister yesterday and a stop at the studio to pick up a few pieces of pottery.  I’d forgotten how time consuming and exhausting it is to wash things by hand; I had planned on doing more patterns yesterday and today, and have instead been up to my elbows in soapy water and fabric dyes.  The last batch (I’ve had to wash everything by bits) is in the dryer now, and once it’s done I’m going to fold everything and then head out to class.  For now, it looks like more pattern making will have to wait until tomorrow morning.

So far I appear to be on my early-June-deadline schedule, but I hadn’t realized how much time it would take me just to draft the patterns (again, this is super new territory for me).  So much of this process is going to involve figuring out my stride and how to be more efficient (and how to stop procrastinating; I’ve been pretty good so far but I know I could focus more…).  My mom (bless her!) got me this neat little book that’s like a planner, and I’ve been using it to keep myself on track, and thus far it’s been helpful.  I’ve even been keeping up with yoga this week!

Sounds like the dryer is done; going to go fold things, but for now, here are some of the fabrics all wet and squeaky clean!


About Which Stitchery

For almost as long as I can remember, I have been in love with fabric and all of the amazing things you can do with it. I've made costumes, hats, and dabbled in corsetry. I made quilts and I knit and I crochet and I wonder what sort of crazy things I can do with pretty much every scrap of fabric I come across. Next up: learning how to batik! Welcome to this happy little blog, which will chronicle my projects as I work on various new ways to make the world around me a little more colorful!
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6 Responses to These Colors DO Run

  1. Great post thanks for sharing. You have a great layout here. Quilting is something I really enjoy doing. It passes the time and is very relaxing.

    • Thanks so much, and welcome! There is something really wonderful about quilting, isn’t there? I love symmetry, and sewing, and quilting is just the happy marriage of the two. ^_^

  2. megan says:

    I love your color choices and am really excited to see these patterns blossom into three dimensions!!! Keep up the great work. (I’m slowly getting caught up on reading the blog) Oh and also, while I’m here I loved your Mexico post! Beautiful pictures and details on the stories. What fun!!

    • Hi Megan! Thanks so much for reading. Glad you like what’s going on here; it’s been an interesting adventure making myself get up and sew every day. And yay Mexico! I’m just happy to share the experience in what ways I can with everyone – it was truly amazing. ^_^

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