There are other reasons to prewash, as well, but many quilters skip prewashing without having any problems at all (knock on wood!).
Image from Pre-Washing – Prepping to Sew, a good read for more prewashing insights.
Let’s face it. Prewashing can be a pain. And, it’s usually not advised for pre-cuts unless you’re very careful (learn how to wash pre-cuts here).
Besides taking up time we’d rather spend quilting, fabric is notorious for raveling and coming out of the wash with a mess of tangled threads. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize raveling:
- Snip a triangular cut from each corner of the fabric piece.
- Serge or zigzag stitch the cut edges of your fabrics before washing.
- Fold the piece in half and sew the raw edges together.
- Cut the raw edges with pinking shears or a rotary cutter with a pinking blade.
- Fold the fabric in half and pin along the edges with no-rust safety pins.
- Place the fabric in a ingerie bag or pillowcase.
- Fill the washer to the max so the fabric can’t move around a lot.
- Rather than run the fabric through a full wash cycle, fill the washer, turn if off and let the fabric soak, then run the spin cycle.
Some of those may work better for you than others so experiment until you find the method you like best. Or, simply accept that there will be strings and tear or cut them off once the fabric comes out of the wash.
You’ll find an interesting discussion with additional insights about dealing with tangles in this thread from Quilting Board.
So, what’s the best way to prewash? Minimize color loss and shrinkage by washing in cool or cold water.
Then, remove the fabric from the dryer while it’s still damp and iron it dry. Let the fabric cool completely before folding it for storage, otherwise it will have tough set-in creases along the fold lines.
Leah Day has written an excellent article about why and how to prewash fabric.
You’ll find additional tips for prewashing fabric, including how to test for fabric that will bleed here.
Bluprint has an excellent article with additional prewashing tips. You’ll find it here.
Image Source: The image at the top of the page is from Sewing Tips: Pre-Washing, another good read.