Forgive me for the drag on these posts; the Thanksgiving weekend kept me slow. I actually drank gravy from the pitcher. That is a true fact. It was.
So we know why I’m switching, as of now, from Team Non-Pre-Wash to Team Pre-Wash. Now, let’s take a look at how this is all going down. I feel that itemizing is the way to proceed.
1. I may be especially set-up to pre-wash my entire fabric stash for two reasons: a) I don’t have so much fabric this will take me nine years; b) I live in a mid-rise building with a laundry room. As to the first thing: I have met women who have put additions on their houses to hold their stash and sewing machines. I recently met a woman in Providence who rents a storage locker just for her fabric. Don’t get me wrong: I have a healthy haul of fabric. But I looked at my cupboard and my baskets and knew while it would be a colossal job, it was not out of the question.
The laundry room thing is pretty important to note. Four floors above me there is a laundry room for the building’s residents. There are six top-load washing machines and two front-loaders. There is a wall of dryers. I essentially have a small laundromat in my house and this is unusual. I’ve been doing huge loads of fabric because I can. With only one washer, one dryer, I don’t think I could do this. Bulk pre-washing is probably the only way to go, especially if you have a fabric store in your garage.
2. Clip the equivalent of a dog ear off each corner of the cut of fabric. This kept me out of Thread Hell. Nothing frayed like crazy when I washed/dried. As my German boyfriend would say, “Incledible!”
3. Wash darks with darks, lights with lights — and reds with reds. Several reds did bleed, as evidenced by the stray piece of light gray that got into a red batch. It is now a pale pink (not unpleasant!)
4. In all my research about how to go about this, nowhere did anyone say to get a can of static spray. Get some. That big, fluffy mass of freshly-dried fabric creates enough electricity to light the Christkindlmarkt at Daley Plaza. Spray ’em down, then pull them apart and more or less fold.
5. Another surprise: I didn’t anticipate how much fabric will fit into a washing machine. Don’t get greedy, but keep smooshing down the fabric in the machine until you know you shouldn’t keep filling. These aren’t gym clothes or blue jeans we’re washing: it’s light cotton. Same thing goes for the dryer: this stuff dries fast.
6. I don’t have a single jelly roll in my stash, which I know may seem strange. But I’m not so much a jelly roll gal; I’m a scrap quilter, so, aside from Small Wonders*, I rarely buy all the fabrics in a single collection. So someone out there needs to tell me how that all works; the only Thread Hell I really experienced was when I had a long strip in the batch. Because jelly roll strips are pinked, perhaps that cancels out fraying?
7. I am so not pressing this fabric once it’s washed and more or less folded. That’s always a complaint from the non-pre-washers: “But you have to iron it all to get the wrinkles out!” I ask you, comrades: have you ever taken fabric from your stash and not ironed out the creases before cutting? I say unto thee you have not. So what’s the praaaablem? Besides, when you press pre-washed fabric, there’s such a wonderful fragrance.
8. To that point: I have chosen not to use fabric softener. It just seemed unwise, putting some substance on the fabric which I am washing in order to get rid of substances. Besides, piece after piece of fabric-softened fabric through my machine could muck it up inside? Maybe? Eh, why risk it.
9. It is never done. It will be. But it is not done, yet. One load at a time.
10. It is as rewarding, cleansing, meditative, and (yes) fun as I wanted it to be. I have no regrets.