I picked up this delicious fat quarter collection at the 2013 Quilt Market in Houston. Recently, I decided to turn it into a monochromatic, graphic quilt. When I buy cotton yardage, I immediately wash it when I get home and then place it on mini fabric bolts. That way, when I’m ready to use it, it’s ready. In this case, however, the cuts of fabric were small, I struggled with whether to prewash the fabric or not. Instead of guessing, I decided to do an empirical experiment and to share it with you.
First, what are the considerations on whether to prewash the fabrics? Below, I prepared a chart that summaries the pros and cons of prewashing:
Understanding these pros and cons, I decided to pre-wash just one of the fat quarters in the bundle. After this experiment, and as you can see below, I determined that there was no appreciable shrinkage or fraying. In fact, the difference here looked to me more like a difference in the cutting of the fabric.
However, I had to press and starch the pre-washed piece to get it stabilized enough to properly cut it.
So, at least for the purposes of the Kaufman fat quarter bundle, I did not prewash any of the other fat quarters.
What is your practice on pre-washing?