Over the past two days, I have been washing fabric for the Forget Me Not quilt, which as twenty-one fabrics of varying shades and intensities of purple and yellow. Fabric cuts ranged from 1/4 yard to 1 1/2 yards. The light batiks bled very little as expected. The yellows were not too bad either. The dark purples… well, those took three washes to get the excess dye removed. I use a Shout Color Catchers to gauge how much dye is left and Synthrapol or other detergent to capture the dye and rinse it away.
With so many small cuts of fabric, I decided to run an experiment on fabric preparation based upon my grandmother’s technique. She washed my grandfathers handkerchiefs, dried them either on the line or in the machine, and then pressed them. When she pressed them, she sprinkled them liberally with water, carefully stacked them on top of each other and rolled them gentle into a log to keep them damp. Then, she would iron each one. They always came out perfectly.
I wanted to know if you really needed to dry the fabric after washing it. My grandmothers method essentially rewetted them to successfully press them without wrinkles. So I washed the fabrics as described above. Half of those fabrics were dried in the dryer (lights and yellow). The other half were left wet (dark purples). Then, I used a hot iron to press each fabric piece to see which method would remove the wrinkles best. Let’s face it, it is aggravating to go through the trouble of washing, drying and ironing only to find you either have wrinkles if you don’t starch or stiff boards if you do starch. Neither extreme is good. The ones that were dried in the dryer required a pressing aid (starch or sizing) with the steam to get most of the wrinkles out. However, the wet fabrics were pressed with a hot dry iron and had NO WRINKLES! I didn’t need to add any chemicals to make them behave.
This little experiment has convinced me to skip the dryer and head straight to the ironing board. It will save energy and sanity in the long run!