Speedy Patchwork and a Pre-Wash Surprise!

Well! This was a bit of a surprise! To allow the fibres to shrink before cutting and piecing I pre-washed a piece of white cotton from IKEA I wasn’t expecting the colour to change! I mean it’s white, there’s no dye to bleed!

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

My husband knows a thing or two about this and says its the OBA (Optical Brightening Agent) in the detergent and demonstrated it’s effect with a UV light 🙂

Left: Before washing and Right: After washing

I generally wash my quilting cottons before cutting and piecing. I know there are good arguments on both sides of the pre-wash vs. don’t wash debate. I just feel more comfortable knowing excess dye has been washed out of deep colours and the cotton fibres have shrunk before I start sewing. Of course there are exceptions to most rules and I’m willing to be pragmatic on this issue. Fabrics in packs of pre-cut strips and squares can’t be washed without fraying and becoming distorted. If I’m using pre-cut strips or squares I don’t wash the background fabrics I’ll be piecing with them – they can all shrink together when the finished quilt is washed.  And scrap quilts do end up being a mix of pre-washed fabrics and off-cuts from unwashed pre-cuts. So, in principle, I pre-wash but there are plenty of exceptions 😀

Back to sewing 🙂 I decided to take out the dark solid from the blocks I made over the weekend. I don’t think it was the dark colour value bothering me, it was much more that the chunk of solid colour in amongst the prints and lighter solids kept drawing my eye – becoming less a place to rest the eye and more of a distraction.

Looking at a B&W image of the completed quilt top I’m satisfied there is a fair range of value without the dark solid.


Having completed this quilt top my attention went straight back to the remaining fat quarters.

I decided on another simple block pattern and found a really helpful strip piecing technique for making the blocks in Allison Harris’ book, ‘Growing Up Modern’. It was easy to adapt her width-of-fabric instructions to my fat quarters and non-standard width IKEA cotton. I am enjoying giving my sewing machine a pedal-to-the-metal workout as we race through all the long seams together 🙂

Ready for some high-speed strip-piecing action!

I haven’t decided on a layout for this quilt but as there are only four prints I think it may be easier to keep them in an orderly fashion rather than try to make a ‘random’ distribution. Here are the blocks I’ve made so far:

Linking with Jennifer for Wednesday Wait Loss – a place to encourage one-another to keep going with our WIPs. Also linking with Susan for Midweek Makers – she’s found a lot of green quilts to get in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day. With all this speedy strip piecing it seems appropriate to link with Denise for Put your foot down Thursday 🙂

Lastly a heads up that this coming Saturday, 20th March, is International Quilting Day 🙂 Will you be doing anything special to mark the day?


13 thoughts on “Speedy Patchwork and a Pre-Wash Surprise!

  1. These colors are so soft and pretty. The quilt design is very interesting too. I pre-washed all my fabrics for years, but lately I’ve been endangering the lot but working with new fabrics off the bolt. Hope I wont have any bad experiences. we’ll see.

  2. I have pre-washed and not washed fabrics floating around. My dilemma is remembering which are which, so I only cut the pre-washed from one end to preserve that frayed edge for identification. But sometimes I oops and cut from both ends. Ugh! Pretty fabrics in your projects.

    • Ha!Ha! Yes! Even our best identification systems break down sometimes! I’ve occasionally resorted to sniffing fabrics to try and detect the smell of washing detergent! 😀

  3. Amazing to see the results of the optical brightener. I wouldn’t have thought the effect would be so pronounced! Thank you both for the lesson 😀

    • Hi! Sally! It is amazing isn’t it? I wonder if it could be a problem when an off-white is deliberately chosen for a quilt colour scheme and then becomes a brilliant white after washing?

  4. Very interesting about the optical brightener, Allison!

    Also, I think you made a good choice by removing the dark. Value is relative, so it depends upon what values are laid next to each other…which is why black and white photos are so helpful! I still use Jinny Beyer’s advice…a light (for accent), medium, and a dark to achieve balance and excitement in a quilt, but a lot depends upon what we want to achieve. A very soft quilt may still have the light, medium and dark, but the values are, again, relative. I would call your grey the dark in your beautiful soft quilt. But looking at the black and white, it looks like white (the accent) and shades of grey (medium to dark). 🙂

    • Yeah! Value is relative. The B&W check is handy isn’t it? I find I can end up pulling a lot of medium value fabrics and not enough of the ‘accent’ and ‘lively’ fabrics.

  5. Wow, so your white got whiter? Is that better? I think so. Is your first quilt an Elvira quilt? Very pretty fabrics all around!

  6. Those prints are pretty and yes I think they do work better without that dark solid. Love what you’re making with the scraps. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.


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