Why I Don’t Wash My Quilts

You’re apparently supposed to wash your quilt before you gift them.  It makes the quilting look all nice and soft, and it takes out the stiffness of the new fabric feel.  I want to wash them before I gift them.  I want them to have that crinkle-y looks.  But, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Because what if they fell apart.

Basically, what I’m saying is this: I send them off and when they leave they are in one piece and perfect.  Just in case I’ve made a mistake I want them to fall apart with the new owner.  So, I want you to use them.  I want you to wash them.  Over and over.  Wash them on the delicate cycle.  Use detergent that is unscented, liquid based, and color-free to wash your quilt, and refrain from using any detergent that contains a fabric softener.  If it’s the first time you’re washing one of my quilts, use a Shout Color Catcher just in case some colors bleed. Since the quilts that I make are quilted by machine, you are free to dry them.  Over and over.  Just dry them on low-heat.

It sounds so nice and easy.  But for now, it’s a step I’m skipping.  I just have a fear that I would open up the dryer and find the binding all off, the quilt top separated from the backing, and the quilt split in two.

Is this likely to happen?  No.  Is this even a real concern?  No.  But, it’s my quilting-nightmare version of showing up to class on the first day naked.

So, I don’t wash my quilts.  I leave that up to you.  And, by all means, if it does fall apart, let me know.  I can fix it.  I’ll just be in denial and pretend it’s a new project.

In all seriousness, could this happen?  Quilting friends, give me some peace of mind.  Can I wash my quilts?

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32 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Wash My Quilts

  1. I wash quilts before I give them, out of exactly the same fear. If they’re going to fall apart I’d rather it be where I have them and can fix it and the intended recipient need never know that the patchwork didn’t hold, or the binding came undone, or the colours ran.

    I’ve yet to have a quilt fall apart on me (though granted, I’m still a new quilter) but every time I put it in the washer I’m sitting there anxious out of my mind until it’s safe and out of the dryer.

  2. I always wash them before I give them away. If there is a problem, I want to know about it before they do. I had one that bled everywhere. I was able to fix the problem, and in the end there was very little evidence that it had ever bled. But most importantly, the recipient never knew there was an issue.

    That being said, I always have anxiety when I put them in the washing machine. But (with the exception of above), I always feel so much more ease when I hand it off because I know it will survive washing.

  3. So funny Ashley. They definitely won’t fall apart! I only just started washing my quilts before gifting them and I have mixed feelings about it. The truth is that I prefer the non-washed crisp version. But then I’m worried that my giftee will be shocked by how much the appearance really does change. I’d rather endure that pain and disappointment for them so they never know the difference.

  4. I was them with color catchers as soon as I’m done with the binding. If something is going to go wrong, I want to be able to fix it before I gift it. Once it’s out of the dryer, I give it a good once over (there are always threads that I missed!) and take more pics. In my mind, they’re not done until they have that crinkly goodness! But I totally get that irrational fear of them falling apart….every time I open the dryer, I hold my breath. But so far, so good!

  5. Lol…I don’t wash them either, but only because I love that brand new crisp Quilty feel. …and I give instructions on washing and using. …and yes, please use! 🙂

  6. This is the exact reason I do wash my quilts because I don’t want anyone to laugh at me when the quilt falls apart in their washer. I don’t prewash my fabrics though bc I want my quilts to get super crinkly in that first wash.

  7. I definitely wash before gifting and for one reason: I have a cat. I would be giving cat hair encrusted quilts if I didn’t wash them. Yuck! Your quilts look sturdy and sound to me. Give them a wash. You’ll be fine!

  8. I can so relate to your fear. I didn’t wash my quilts before gifting for a long time because I was afraid I wouldn’t like how they looked after washing. Finally I got the courage to start washing most (not all yet, I’m afraid to wash appliqué quilts) and they actually look and feel better after washing.

  9. Nail. Hammer. boom! I gifted my first quilt unwashed for that reason and was so so so nervous to wash up the flannel quilt before gifting for all the reasons stated above. I even included TWO Shout Color Catchers. After frantically checking the stitching post-dry, I finally stepped back to admire the finished product – extra snuggly and crinkly – perfecto. And most importantly, unharmed from washing. It’s terrifying, but man, I’m hooked on crinkly, soft goodness. Plus if the binding falls off, I can fix it before sending it along 😉

  10. Hahahahah! I laugh because I am the exact same way with mine!!! I only started washing mine before because I visted a friend that had washed a quilt I made for her daughter and I loved how it looked! I am terrified not to prewash now because I’m afraid colors will bleed or something crazy will happen.

  11. I’ve been quilting about two years and I didn’t know at first I was “suppose” to wash my quilts. Then in a class the instructor casually mentioned one reason for washing quilts is to make sure the starch is out because it attracts bugs! I have since switched from using starch but I also realized that any little pucker in my quilting is hidden after washing! I do tell the giftees that quilts are generally washed before gifting because I don’t want them to think they’re not made especially for them (and are used). I love the crispness of a new quilt just like everyone else but I’m learning to love the joy of crinkles!

  12. I’m planning on washing mine once I finish the binding (Hahahaha I’ve been working on that sine June 😐 ) but honestly by now, I’ve been using it and it’s softened and kinda crinkled on its own just from use. If you care and want it cleaned, clean it! If not, don’t c: I don’t like the stiffness of the new fabric, and I do glue-basting so it’s probably best if I throw it in the wash.

  13. I wash BEFORE giving away so I won’t be embarrassed if it does fall apart – at least it has fallen apart BEFORE I give it to them so then I can fix or re-do! I don’t want them to think I am a crap sewist and if it happened to me I would be too embarrassed to tell the person who gave it to me that it fell apart.

  14. The only time I have ever had a problem was the first (and only) time I hand-sewed the binding. In one small 2 inch area, the stitching came undone. Never had another problem since, but I always wash the quilt to be sure that it doesn’t fall apart after I gift it.

  15. My mom and I were just having this same conversation! She doesn’t wash before gifting because she wants the recipient to know that the quilt is new, but I always wash before gifting so the recipient isn’t surprised by the crinkles and think they did something wrong while washing it. Both good reasons, I suppose, but since I give quilts almost exclusively to non-quilters, I’m going to stick with my “no surprises” approach.

  16. I always prewash my fabrics and i always wash my finished quilts. I have never had any problems with bleeding colors or other damage (mishaps). However; one time i was in a hurry to get a gift quilt out of the wash and into the dryer and when i went to open our washer the lid was locked shut (it wont open until its dine spinning) i had a momentary FREAK OUT. Tears and all. My boyfriend had to calm me down and assured me that the washer hadn’t eaten my quilt.

  17. My philosophy is that quilts are like kids: a little water behind the ears and under each wing will never hurt ’em. Go for it! I never prewash my fabrics (I like to live dangerously) but I always wash the finished product. Because we have a dog at home and because I’ve been known to bind them at work or in the car during pick-up, I figure they’re filthy before they even leave my hands, plus I really like to see them crinkle up after they’ve been through the dryer.

  18. I wash most of my quilts before they are given away for a couple of reasons… 1. If I leave it to the recipient to wash the quilt chances are they will not use a colour catcher and things will bleed. 2. If there are any imperfections or seams that come apart I can fix them before the quilt goes out into the world. 3. All quilts going to the hospital need to be pre-washed before they are handed out. 4. It is a good way to find out what fabrics are problematic (fading, bleeding etc) 5. They are so snuggley and cozy and wrinkled.

  19. I’m with the other Laura C and Cath and a bunch of others. I’d be mortified if the thing fell apart on them the first time they washed it after I made a big deal about “wash your quilts”. I’d rather it fall apart on me.

    FWIW I’ve only had two quilts kind of fall apart in the wash and one was a hand-applique (needleturn) situation. The other was a special-occasion bizarre Laura-dumb-idea terrycloth situation. The applique quilt only frayed a little bit in two tiny places, so I gifted it anyway. Even the quilts I used to hand-stitch entirely (piecing, quilting, binding, the whole show) are washing fine and holding together like champs. I know your Bernina does better stitches than my goofy hands, so trust yourself and do it! (I can’t believe you’re missing out on all that CRINKLE, girl!)

  20. I so know what you mean. I used some crossweave fabric on the back of the simply star quilt and one edge is fraying after washing….now I have to work out how to fix it 😦

  21. I always wash mine because I’m more worried that they do fall apart with the new owner. I know I can fix them if any holes appear but I know the person I’ve gifted (or even sold) it to won’t be expecting to have to do that and it will put a downer on the gift. TBH though the best part about washing a quilt is the softening up and getting rid of the oils in my skin that have gone into it as I work, or the dog hairs from when my dog has decided to lay on it whilst basting, and stuff like that. Especially if it’s for a baby.

  22. I always wash my quilts before I send them to their new owner for the same reasons others have said they wash theirs – to test their integrity and because I love the look of a freshly washed quilt. But I don’t treat them in any way “special” … they get washed in cold water with the same detergent I use for everything else, color, fragrance and all. The only concession I use is that I throw a color catcher in every time I wash a quilt, not just the first time. And I dry them on high heat because in my dryer, low heat would take a quilt two days to get dry!

    But then, I’ve also finally begun to stretch my wings and do such non-traditional things as pressing seams open instead of to one side, and using polyester thread instead of all cotton. Yeah, I’m a rebel and I like to live life on the edge! 😉

  23. My biggest fear isn’t falling apart – it’s fabric bleeding because it’s happened before.

    So I religiously wash my fabrics ahead of time before I start the quilt. First I wash my lights and darks separately – then together (since they’ll be in the same quilt). Each time I use at least 2 color catchers. I use a batting that won’t shrink up too much, or I’ll prewash the batting too (yes, you can do that tied up in a pillowcase).

    Then, I wash the quilt on gentle with more color catchers when it’s done. I leave it damp and block it by laying it out to dry and pushing and pulling the edges so everything is straight.

    Then it’s good to go. Whenever I’ve followed this method above, I’ve never had problems.

  24. I am a no washer too! I am not responsible for what happens after you get it…just kidding. But I do like them better that way:)

  25. I received a quilt as a gift and it is falling apart after two washes. The girl who gave it to me has been making quilts for all of our friends having babies. I haven’t asked anyone else if theirs also fell apart, but I am guessing yes. Looks like her stitching is too far apart. Now I feel bad that she is wasting all that time making quilts and doesn’t know they are going to come unstitched! But I don’t know whether to tell her because she has made them for several people already and I don’t want to hurt her feelings!

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