Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Every Quilter's Nightmare

There are some quilters, an entire army of them, who never prewash their fabrics. I will never, ever be able to understand how they can so blithely work with fabrics that just might betray them.

After too many bleeding incidents - 2 MAJOR ones in particular - I have been diligent to the point of obsession, when it comes to prewashing fabric. Fabric is not allowed out of its bag, until it has gone through the washer.

And it goes through the washer on warm, with at least 2 color-catcher sheets in attendance. If those little sheets catch any color, BACK into the wash it goes, this time with either Retayne or Synthrapol. I ALWAYS wash batiks with Synthrapol, and to date, it has always done me well.

And then there was yesterday.

I also wash my quilts when I finish them. It's another quirk of mine. But apparently I missed one? I was certain I'd washed Queen of the Garden, but apparently not. A friend at church wants to hang it in the sanctuary a week from Sunday, so I thought I'd block it a little, to make it look its best.

The quilt had other ideas.

spritz. spritz. spritz. I'd pinned the quilt to the board and was merrily spritzing my way around it. Suddenly the edge of the orange flower caught my eye. NO. I looked elsewhere.
That is most definitely migrating color, color that has NO BUSINESS in the pale blue of the sky. Sure enough, the entire interior edge of the quilt was changing color, as the water soaked into the fabric and the dye soaked out of the dark blue batik.

I did what any sane blogger would do. I grabbed the camera. Then I headed to the bathtub.
I started running the water, and realized I had a problem. I had a BIG problem. I added a generous amount of Oxyclean to the water, because in a lecture Sharon Schamber assured us that "Oxyclean kills excess dye."

This is the color of the water, on the first treatment. That looks like a TON of excess dye, and it doesn't look at all dead to me.

I emptied the tub, filled it again, and added a like amount of Oxyclean. This purple is paler, but it is still purple.
On the third go-round, I ran clear water, with no Oxyclean. There's still some excess color, but not as much.
And by the fifth or sixth rinse, it was clear enough to drink.

Did all of the wandering dye come out of the quilt?

I confess, I don't really want to look at it too closely. It is currently pinned on the blocking board, blocking and drying. Most of the migratory color came out of the sky fabrics, and most of it came out of the yellow flowers. But the orange flowers, that I showed you at the top of the post? They still have dye at their base.

And if this can happen to me, a religious pre-washer, I just can't begin to imagine what pain might be in store for those of you who shrug and say, "Well, mine won't bleed!" or "It's not that big a deal." For me? It's a VERY big deal. In fact it's an ORdeal. And I, for one, am glad this chapter is behind me!

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