Saturday, September 9, 2017

Testing Fabric For Bleeding - Back to School Blog Hop 2017

Thank you Sam Hunter for allowing me to participate today!

As a quilter, I hate it when a finished project bleeds.  Therefore, I try to always wash my fabrics before I use them especially if I know the quilt isn't a small wall hanging and it will be washed.  These are some gorgeous Island Batik scraps I had lying around that HAVE NOT been washed.  I was curious what colors would bleed the most.  My gut and experience tell me teal, purple, dark blue, and red are the worst offenders.  Let's see what happens.

I start by getting a paper towel soaked in HOT water and putting it inside a plastic bag.

Then I stick all my pieces down and make sure they get saturated with water and seal the bag. I usually let them sit in the bag for 3-6 hours to check for bleeding.

Here is the paper towel after ONE hour.  You can see that the purple and blue are indeed bleeding a ton and some of the others have a slight shadow. Those definitely need to go in the wash.

Here is the paper towel after THREE hours.  You can see that many of the colors have slight shadows.  I don't worry too much about slight ones unless the fabric will be next to white.  The purple and blue and red definitely need to be washed.

So the big question is...what do I wash the fabrics with to stop the bleeding?  Many people use Retayne, but I use Synthapol since I mostly use batiks and though it's designed for hand-dyed fabric, isn't that what a batik is?  Hand-dyed in Bali.  I run my fabrics through the wash following the directions and using a color catcher if I have one on hand.  Then, I test them again before using them in a project just to be sure.  Yes, it takes extra time, but it's saved me from problems.  I remember one red batik I washed 5 times before it stopped bleeding.

I have also inadvertently discovered that if you completely saturate a fabric with spray starch (I was using it as an applique background) it can leave bleeding on your ironing board cover.  Another way to test fabric! (And I did get a much needed new ironing board cover)

I hope that helps you and I hope you get to quilt today!


  1. This sounds like a great idea! Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!!

  2. Thanks for the great tips- this step is so very important, Susan

  3. Thanks for the great info on how and why you prewash your fabrics! As a general rule, I always washed my fabrics when I brought them home from the store. Now I've been buying precuts, and it was much easier NOT to prewash, so now I'm leaning that direction with all my purchases. I do love the hand-dyes and batiks, so your post gives me pause to re-think this issue. Thanks!!

  4. What a great way to test your fabric for bleeding! I had never seen this done before. Thanks!

  5. Great information - I'll have to try it out on my new batiks I just got. Thanks!