How Should You Prewash Your Fabric For Quilting?

Let’s see, are you supposed to wash the fabric before quilting?

Quilting is not just about bringing fabric from the market and starting to stitch. You need to follow quite a few steps to make your fabric fit for quilting. One of the essential steps is to prewash your fabric.

There is a debate that goes between quilters. Some support the pre-washing step, while others are not in favour. But, there are many advantages of pre-washing that no one can deny. 

As a quilter, you must know how to prewash the fabric. Keep on reading this article to learn how you are supposed to wash the fabric before quilting. Also, unveil some secrets of prewashing. 

So, here you go. 

How Should You Prewash Your Fabric For Quilting?

i. Separate light and dark

Do not mix light and dark-coloured fabric. Always separate the fabric according to their colour and then put them in your machine. 

ii. Trim the edges

The edges of your fabric will fray while washing. So make sure you trim the edges before you put them into the washing machine.

iii. Try using quilt soap

Set your washing machine to a cool or cold temperature. Fill it with water to the marked level. 

Now, what do you use for pre-washing? Do you prewash fabric with detergent?

Try to use quilt soap. Heard for the first time? You can get it from any laundry shop. Try using laundry soaps like Orvus. 

Yet, you can use regular detergent, but quilt soaps are the best.  You can also find quilt soaps online.

iv. Fabric Softeners are a strict NO-NO

Never use fabric softeners for your fabric. They will make your fabric hard. You will find difficulty in cutting and piecing your fabric. 

v. Shake the wrinkles out

After washing is complete, take the fabric out of the machine. Untwist it and shake out the wrinkles. 

vi. Do not over-dry the Fabric

Dry the fabric in a medium setting. Try not to over-dry. Take the fabric out when it is still wet. Over-drying lets the wrinkles dry on the fabric itself. 

vi. Iron Immediately

Just after taking the fabric out of the dryer, iron it immediately. Do not leave the material in the dryer for days. 

If you are going to use your fabric after some days, then fold it and keep it in a safe and clean place. Don’t forget to iron before using.

vii. Small pieces strictly NOT allowed

If you plan to wash the fabric after cutting it into pieces, you plan wrong. Small pieces will get lost in the machine. So I always prefer to use uncut fabric. 

So here it ends. The pre-washing of the fabric is done, and it is ready for use. 

The Debate Over Prewashing

Now, different quilters have different opinions on pre-washing. Some say pre-washing should be done, while others are not in favour.

Let us not take part in the debate. But let us look at what they are saying to defend their point. Then you decide where you will prewash your fabric or not.

Why Should You Prewash?

i. Cleans the fabric

The fabric you buy comes to you after so many processes. After it leaves the factory, it is shipped and is placed in various stores.

You do not even know where and in which condition they are placed. So better you clean the fabric and then use it. 

ii. Softens the Fabric

The chemicals used while manufacturing makes the fabric stiff. Washing makes the fabric soft.

Soft fabrics can be easily cut, and you can also stretch them according to your convenience. 

iii. Saves the quilt from bleeding

Some fabrics will bleed at a high amount when you wash them. It generally happens with the fabrics of dark colours like red, purple, etc. 

You will surely not like it if these colours bleed and are mixed with other light colours after your quilt is ready. So prewashing the fabrics will put you on the safe side. 

iv. Help fabrics to take shape

Some fabrics shrink while others relax at different levels after washing. If you do not prewash them, they distort the quilt’s beauty by shrinking or relaxing. Prewashing helps the fabric to take its desired shape before quilting. 

Why Shouldn’t You Prewash

  • It wastes a lot of your time
  • Many quilters think that the whole process doesn’t add much to the final output. Hence it wastes a lot of your time and energy pre-washing it. You have a whole lot of work still left. 
  • Shrinking does not cause much distortion
  • Yes, some fabrics do indeed shrink. But this shrinking doesn’t cause many effects if you wash it after preparing the quilt. 
  • Some stiffness is good
  • Some quilters believed that the stiff fabric with intact chemicals helped. It is easy to sew, and also it irons better.

What Should Be your Take?

You must have read both viewpoints. Now it is your decision what you want to do. It depends on the purpose you are making the quilts.

If you are making it for yourself, you can do experiments. 

But if you are doing it professionally, you have to keep in mind that you don’t know what your quilt will be used for. Whether it will be washed or not. So better, wash it before quilting to be on the safe side.

  • Do the test as mentioned above before washing the whole fabric. It will save a lot of your time. 
  • But if you keep the shrinking of fabric in mind, you have to wash the whole fabric before quilting. Even if your fabric does not shrink much, prewashing will still give it a chance to take shape. 

Doing these small things and creating perfect quilts. Deteriorated quilts will raise questions about your professionalism for sure. 


As a quilter, you are responsible for creating a good quality quilt. Quality is not always about stitches, designs, thread, or fabric. As a quilter, you need to ensure that your quilt does not release colour or deteriorate after washing. 

To ensure it will not bring negative reviews about your quilt, prewashing is something you should not slip. Also, prewashing ensures that your quilt is safe. It does not contain any chemicals. It will assure the customers that they can use it for small kids or babies. 

Try the steps mentioned above for good results. So please take out the fabric in your cupboard, and wash it before creating a beautiful quilt. 

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