Life Made a Pre-Washer Out of Me, Part II.

posted in: Quilting 1
I made a little pal. He's got a soft, fuzzy cape! He is nestled in pre-washed love. (All fabric: Small Wonders.)
I made a little pal. He’s got a soft, fuzzy cape! He is nestled in combed, pre-washed love! It is a happy day. (All fabric: Small Wonders.)

If you’re new around here, you might want to start reading PaperGirl last February and get caught up. What is there to do the day after Thanksgiving but tidy up, eat cherry pie out of the tin, and sit down with your laptop? Don’t say, “Brave the crowds for the coffeemaker Mee-Maw wants because I have a coupon.” The PaperGirl story leading up to now will help you understand what I’m about to tell you. At the very least, if you haven’t read yesterday’s post — Part I of the pre-wash discussion — definitely do that first. 

When I knew I had to come home to Chicago, I began to brood more than usual. What was I looking for over the last 1.5 years? Did I find it? and what did it cost? What did I gain? If I come back essentially the same person after the odyssey, were all the moves and the disorientations just sweat-and-blood-producing effort? Or did I make life? And did my tenants destroy my house? At least I know the outcome of that.

But I did know I had to reclaim this city and reclaim my home. Like, deep reclamation was needed to touch the ground, to be here, to be back. I left so much fabric when I left. I couldn’t take my entire stash to New York City. The NYC experiment was to be one year. I rented this place furnished in order to afford to go. After the year, I’d make a decision to come back or stay away and at that time, I would gather my stash and make a permanent move. But I did come back. I touched my fabric again. I saw the colors. I saw the palate I use to make quilts which is what a stash is for a quilter: a palate. I saw the all the fabric I left behind.

And I knew I absolutely had to wash it. All of it. Washing every scrap (every scrap over 5” square or so) would click my brain into place, would work to say, “I left, but I’m back, and I’m changed.” To handle each yard, each fat quarter, to take inventory, to wash my entire experience and have proof that something happened — even though I can’t possibly know what that is, yet — that was I had to do. To go from a non-prewasher to a pre-washer, that was concrete. Did I really go away? Yes, I can say. Because look at what I am now: I’m a pre-washer. And I wasn’t before. How come?

When people ask me, “Why do you pre-wash?” I can’t tell them, “Well, I met a wonderful person and upended my life. I moved to New York City but it all failed. I left for Washington, D.C. and lived there and loved it, but I had to come home to Chicago and my heart sang when I did, but I needed proof I left and returned because it hardly seemed real. I washed my stash so that the experience was real, to prove I had changed, indelibly, and for good.”

I can’t tell them all that. I’ll just tell them I like how it feels.

Tomorrow, the third and final installment of this story, I’ll tell you about my process. There is a lot to know about pre-washing fabric and I need to take you through all the tips I’ve gathered from quilters across the country. I’ll discuss pre-cuts, the process you need to go through before putting the fabric in the wash, post-production, and more. Thanks for listening.