The screen printed silhouette quilt is almost ready to be quilted - just the borders to be added. I've decided on cotton batting this time, mainly because that's what I had in my stash. My dilemma has been whether to pre-wash the cotton batting or not and I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts and experiences.
I don't actually know why I bought cotton, as my previous quilts had been wool or wool / polyester if I couldn't get 100% wool. I like the idea of wool, as it breathes and is warm. I'm not at all keen on polyester.
I've never washed wool batting, but the packaging quite clearly recommended pre-washing the cotton batting. On the back however, were instructions to wash the quilt, if the batting hadn't been pre-washed.
I checked online and it seemed that if I didn't pre-wash, I'd get a slightly crinkly, antique look, due to the cotton batting shrinking.
Because of the silhouettes, I wanted the quilt to be as flat as possible. I knew Tash, my daughter, would want this too. When we were discussing how I'd do the actual quilting, she commented that she didn't want it to look like an old lady quilt with fancy quilting everywhere. I think the crinkled look may come under the banner of an old lady quilt... LOL!!!
Thoughts online were diverse, varying from those who purely soaked, to those who used a washing machine on the gentle cycle. One person even put the batting in a laundry basket, then put the laundry basket in the bathtub. Many shared success stories, whilst others talked about decimated batting.
After much research I decided to soak in the laundry tub for about 20 minutes, gently squeezing a few times as if I were washing a delicate garment. I did not enjoy the process. Perhaps this was because of uncertainty about the end result.
The water in the tub turned a dirty brown. I hadn't read about or expected this. I should have taken a photo. Afterwards, I found one reference to dirty water. Seems it's a result of the oil in the cotton seeds or perhaps from the outside of the cotton ball.
Apparently, if the batting is not pre-washed, or the quilt washed when finished, small oil spots will appear on the quilt.
Maybe I'm over thinking this, but if the water ends up brown, what happens if you don't pre-wash? I can't say I like the thought of my precious quilting cottons being subjected to washing in dirty water. Needless to say, I rinsed many times till the water was clear.
Gently squeezing water out took quite a while and I gave up before it was finished. Many people said they put the batting in the machine just for the spin cycle and some said they put the batting in the dryer, after putting it on the spin cycle. I do have a dryer, but never use it. Again, opinions varied greatly.
Where to dry the batting. The packing said to lay flat, so I spread sheets on the grass and put the batting on top. After several hours in the sun, it was still quite wet.
If we had tiles, I would have laid it out flat inside. As we don't I piled it up on two drying racks, only letting short sections hang down. I didn't want it to stretch. The batting is queen size, so much of it was scrunched up on top.
I thought it would never dry at this rate!!!
Next morning, much to my surprise, it had begun to dry out. I figured it was light enough to hang on the clothes line, hanging it over all five lines, so lots of air all around and not too much weight hanging down.
And that evening, just to make sure it dried completely, I spread it out again, doubled over and hanging on the two drying racks. As it was almost dry at this stage, I wasn't worried about the weight, and so let it hang down.
I have to say, I think the process has resulted in lovely soft batting. It doesn't seem to have deteriorated at all. It was, however, a very time consuming process.
I'm just recounting my thoughts and experience, so please don't read it as a How To!!! I've listed a few of the pages that I read while deciding whether to pre-wash cotton batting or not.
- Prewashing Cotton Batting - discussion
- Should I Pre-wash my Cotton Batting?
- Washing Instruction & Care Information
- Do You Pre-wash Batting?
- Do You Wash Batting Before Quilting? - discussion
- Quilt Batting
- Should I Wash Batting Before Using it in a Quilt? - discussion
I really would value your thoughts, experiences and opinions on anything I've talked about.