Wednesday, May 09, 2012

When a Quilt Bleeds, What Do You Do?

I have already done the first few things that pop into my mind of what to do when your quilt has bled...scream, hunt for chocolate.  There was none.  I went for a glass of wine.  It took the edge off, but I needed to address this problem quickly.  Afterall, paperwork for this quilt has already been sent in to a couple of shows.

Three days ago, I cleared space in my basement to block my 80" quilt, which is just a hair too big to block upstairs in my bedroom (the usual place).  It requires moving my bed too close to the door, making the room uncomfortable.  Truth be told, my husband came to bed late one night when I had a previous quilt on the blocking boards.  Maybe he forgot I had moved the bed, who knows.  But he claims to have near walked straight into the bed upon entering the room.  Either way, even with an 18' long room, it is oddly cramped with an 80" quilt on the floor.  So...All set up downstairs.  As soon as my daughter got on the bus Monday, I happily scooted off to wet my quilt and get it blocking.
Here it is (above) all wet.  Dontcha just love the texture that shows?!...That was the last moment I was really happy this week.  Unless, if you consider the fact that I got the quilt all pinned on the blocking board, and did in fact discover it is a full 80" long (I had measured more like 78-79") - Being 80" makes it qualify for the bed quilt category, which is what I have wanted all along.  Anyways, I am digressing.  On Monday evening I checked on the quilt.  It was very wet still and I was seeing something I really hate to see - staining of color on the light background.  Normally I'd worry about the reds and deep plums, but the staining was all coming from aqua/teal materials.  The Hoffman 1895 hand-dyes I use so often are fantastic and do not bleed, but every now and then I toss another batik into the quilt, as I have done here.  Damn. Damn.  Damn.
 See...closeup of the mess.  It ran through to the backing in some places too.
Yuck.  I immediately sent off an email to the first person that I thought of - Vicki Welsh, Queen of Hand-dyes.  I knew she'd have some good advice.  I had a quilt last year (the one with all the tiny appliqued grapes) bleed, but it was small enough to wash in the washer with a bunch of color catchers hand stitched over the grapes.  It came out fine.  This quilt is big, and I did a cardinal sin - I trimmed the edge and had cut through the stitching,  I feared that the stitches would unravel in a wash cycle, even though I did put a row of tight stitching around the perimeter.  The washing machine is just not a possibility before it is bound.
 Stupid dots.  Stupid teal bleeding fabric.  UGH.  And I can't believe that is blue and green on the backside!
OK, so Vicki's advice is to soak it in a tub, submerged for 12+ hours with 1/2 to 1C of dish detergent (She uses Synthrapol, but thought the detergent would work the same).  Start with water that is as hot as possible.  She says 140F, but I measured mine to be 126F (I am an engineer.  Ya didn't think I'd pass on measuring the temp did you?!).  I added 3 large pots full of boiling water, which is no easy feat since the jacuzzi where the quilt is bathing is upstairs.  The quilt is weighted down too to keep it submerged.  For good measure, I also tossed in the last 6 Shout color catchers I had.  I should say also that I have checked 3 stores locally and cannot find Synthrapol.  Panic was beginning to set in.  I came back 10 hours later to see how things looked.
The 6 color catchers show tinges of aqua, but the staining is not gone.  Some places are better, but it is showing in other new places too.  I ought to add, it is hard when the light fabrics are wet to identify staining versus seeing the brighter colored seam allowance underneath the cream fabric.  But I know my feathered star was not constructed with "bruise" colored material.  Yesterday evening we picked up another package of color catchers (these were odd, with a detergent in a pouch) and another stain stick.  I have already gone through 1 stain stick.  I liberally coated the spots again and filled up the tub to soak it again overnight, throwing in all 10 of the oxy-clean color catchers.  If one is good, ten must be better.
This morning, after 22 hours of soaking, it is not normal yet.  I am getting mad.  And nowhere near here has Synthrapol.  Sophie and I ventured out to get more supplies.  I'm not messing around this time.  What fool only uses 6 color catchers?  These are the 24 pack of color catchers that I had used last year with success.
I pretreated every stain location on the front and back with the Shout stuff.  Probably used over half a bottle.  I then attached all 96 color catchers to the colored areas of the quilt or anywhere that had evidence of bleeding.  It appears to be complete and utter overkill times 10, but I am just sick of dealing with this.  I started hand stitching them on, but wet quilt is hard to stitch through.  I used pins for most of them.  Will have to be super careful handling the quilt tomorrow.  Blood would be harder to remove.
I then folded this monster up, loaded the tub for a 3rd time with hot soapy water, and proceeded to hope for the best.  Oh, and for good measure, I did pick up a $3 bottle of ReTayne at Joann's for future quilts.  They didn't have the Synthrapol though.  The blue hue in the tub is the laundry detergent.  Funny, because I have shelled out $37 for 5 boxes of color catchers and 3 stain sticks!
I have checked it half a dozen times since I stuck it (with it's 96 color catchers) back into the tub.  I even ran the jacuzzi pump a couple times to generate a little turbulence and bubbles.  Not sure why.  Maybe the white noise of the pump is soothing.  Maybe I have really lost my mind.  Now, I guess I will just go about my day and check it at bedtime.  As they say, the watch pop never boils.  Whatever happens, I gotta think that whatever dye is coming out of the quilt, it will have released all it is released in 44 hours.  So for better or worse, tomorrow it goes to the blocking boards.  Cross your fingers for a positive outcome and stay tuned.

If ANYBODY else has any other advice, should the staining not be gone, please speak up.  I'd love to hear from you.  And I know, prewash. Prewash, and prewash again.  Can't you tell I'm not a prewasher??? I will be.

25 comments:

Michelle said...

oh Margaret, my Heart is bleeding for you...anxiously awaiting the results. I'd never have thought of attaching the color catchers directly to the quilt!

Sewing Junkie said...

I have had this happen, but not with the amount of beautiful work you have placed into the completion of this quilt. Eventually the color that bled on mine faded away. I know this isn't any consolation for your quilt at the moment. Best wish and hopefully it is working. Chris

Jen said...

I haven't tried it, but there's a new product out there that is supposed to help remove old stains from quilts. Retro clean is what I think it's called. I got some to use on my great grandmother's cathedral window quilt that was stored in my great aunt's house, who happened to be a smoker. I'm hoping that this will remove the smoke stains like it says that it will. Maybe it will remove the bleeding for you as well. I know a couple of stores in Massachusetts carry Synthrapol, so if you want to drive there, let me know and I can let you know the shop names.

Vicki W said...

Holy cow! I can't believe that fabric is still bleeding. I'm sorry my process didn't work right away for you. Blue is absolutely the most stubborn and turquoise blue is satanic. But I can't imagine how that fabric was dyed and processed so that it keeps running for you. I hope this last soak finally gets the rest of it out.

Lisa Marie said...

If you've done a tight stay-stitch around the perimeter of the quilt, why are you worried about running it through a gentle wash cycle?
I'm thinking that this last soak should make a world of difference.
I have had this happen ONCE. And it was a terrible quilt for it to have happened on, too. When I finished quilting Sarah Vedeler's Sedona Star, there wasn't a whole lot of time to get it back to her for binding and photography before it debuted in the TQS booth in Houston. So I had her test her red fabrics to see if I could just spray block it, or if it needed to be washed. She told me that after *x* amount of time, there appeared to be no bleed so I went ahead and laid it out flat and sprayed it like no tomorrow. Blocking was done and I went home.
The next day I came in and found that her darkest red had bled onto her lightest blue. I was HORRIFIED! Turns out, she had emailed me to tell me that after another *x* amount of time there was a little bit of bleeding, but minimal. Again, HORRIFIED! I never saw the email! I ended up wiping each light blue triangle of the circular border on her quilt with Shout Wipes. It lightened the bleed, but it did not get rid of it completely. Luckily, she told me to not worry about it. I know that washing it with the color catchers would've done the trick, but there really was no time to re-block it!
I know none of this helps you with your situation, but at least you know that you're not alone!

Patty Ashworth said...

Have you tried a tide pen or clorox pen? Be careful with the clorox, or you could end up bleaching out the color of the fabrics you want to keep. This is why I never, I MEAN NEVER wash a quilt that is going to a show or for a customer. You may have to do the plan B....take more of the fabics that fun and put them around on the quilt to make it run on purpose... adds to the design of the quilt... a "stain" will never come out. Bummer. More wine. and lots more chocolate.

~Michelle~ said...

Have you tried Grandma's Spot remover? (http://www.grandmassoap.com/) It has definitely gotten blood out of a quilt and clothing for me (not the same as dye, I know) I guess it's worth a shot??

Patti said...

Oh, you poor dear! I can't even imagine your horror. I don't prewash either, and have never been able to find Color Catchers locally, so I'd be in huge trouble if this happened to me.

Janet Stone said...

I feel your pain! This happened to me recently and the Retayne on a delicate cycle worked great, although I did learn NOT to agitate. On a side note, I would grab that bottle of wine, turn on those jacuzzi jets, and just jump in with that darn quilt!

Unknown said...

Hi Margaret,
I work at a quilt shop in Farmington. If you are still looking for Synthrapol, I think we may have some in the shop. You could call tomorrow to check if you're interested. The number is 779-9060.
Good luck.
Mary

Peggi said...

Oh, Margaret, I'm so sorry. I was going to recommend Vicki Welsh but obviously you're a step ahead of me.

Praying for you that all the dyes come out!

What Comes Next? said...

how disappointing and maddening for you! I do hope this last soak does the trick and all the bleed is gone - fingers crossed.

Sue said...

It's so sad to see that beautiful quilt with all of the bleeding. I've sewn for years and am a firm believer in pre-washing all of my fabric. Also, I tie-dye and order Synthrapol from Dharma Trading in California. Do you have friends who are also tie-dyers?

Queenie Believe said...

I'm so sorry that this is happening to your beautiful quilt! All digits are crossed that the dreaded dye will all come out. I don't have any suggestions regarding getting dye bleed out but I do have a sure fire method for getting blood out. This will sound a little gross but it works everytime. As soon as you know you've a pin prick and bled on a project, spit on the stain. The enzimes in your spit will remove the blood. So spit liberally like you would use a pretreater of some sort and rinse well with cold water. The water has to be cold or the blood will set and never get out.
Best of luck
Always, Queenie

Litamora's Quilt & Design said...

Check out the tips on Quiltville by Bonnie Hunter, she wrote about it a while ago. I think there was something about vinegar and salt or something. Don't know if it will help you, but I really hope it will be sorted out! Good luck!
Laila

leaf said...

Don't know if it would work for you, but once I had a quilt with a localized bleeding problem, and I used bleach to remove the stain: Took a Q-tip and dipped it in bleach, then blotted it almost dry and c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y dabbed it on the stain. As soon as the stain was gone, I rubbed the spot with vinegar/water on a cloth. You'd need to pre-test your fabrics, and try this as a last resort...

Good luck!!

Teri said...

I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I have had the same problem on a smaller scale with an intricately pieced 20x20" quilt that I dyed several fabrics for. My problem was with the dark blue fabric. Pretty disheartening. I soaked mine in oxyclean, and it mostly came out. you have to look closely to see it.

On another note, I have used Clorox II (Clear, liquid) and a mild dish detergent I used Ivory. equal parts in water, and it took the dark yellow stains from delicate old fabrics and left them sparkling white. I soaked my wedding dress, and 60yo crocheted lace which both look new.

Good luck!! I know how depressing this is

Jan Hutchison said...

Don't beat yourself up over not pre-washing. I had a customer go through the same thing even after she prewashed the hand-dyed fabric twice. She did eventually get 98% out by following the advice of Vicki Welsh and using Synthrapol. Hope something works for you!

Gail said...

I have a problem that is similar to yours, but I have not seen it posted anywhere else. I just finished a circle of nine quilt for breast cancer survivor friend of mine. I was so thankful it is not a customer quilt!!! I used a blue line marker in several areas. It is apparently permanent on one of the fabrics because I cannot get those marks out. I used plain cold water, I used blue line eraser and I'm now using vinegar. The sad part is that not only did the blue lines remain, but they turned a dark gray on an intense pink solid fabric! They came out of all the other fabrics so maybe it is a chemical reaction with the dye.

Lbaggs said...

I had a red and white quilt. The red bleed everywhere. I was devastated. i also had hand quilted the whole quilt. At that time I had a top loading washer. I put almost a whole box of Biz in and filled the washer up with hot water and stirred it up until the biz had dissolved. Then I put the quilt in and stirred it up until it was saturated and under the water. I left it in and kept coming in and moving it around. After 2 days I took it out and rinsed it in the bathtub. It all came out. It looks like it never happened. If you decide to try this good luck.

Lbaggs said...

I had a red and white quilt I had hand quilted. The whole thing bled. I filled up my top loading washer with hot water. Added almost a box of biz and stirred it till it dissolved. Added the quilt and let it soak for almost 30 hours. Took it out and rinsed it in the tub. It all came out! I couldn't believe it. Good luck if you try it.

Nana said...

Just found this post of yours and had a bleeding problem myself. Now I wonder how it turned out?

Nana from Germany

Darlene Contadino said...

I share your frustration. I just finished a quilt and decided to wash it before mailing it off as a gift. IT had dark blue backing. Yes I do not prewash, but had cut a small piece to check it. ALl the white is now a grey. At least it is consistent. I can image how frustrated you are.

Gowri said...

I bought some fabric a year ago.. and I've done about 5 pre-washes!! Colour still runs :( any solutions???

Laquata White said...

Since non of the things tried worked for you, I decided to use old remedies and combine with new..
Blue Dawn, 2 squirts, 1c. White vinegar, 1 c. Oxi-clean...1c hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 c. Baking soda, 1/4 c lemon juice, and 1/4 cup table salt.

Elderly use to use table salt and lemon juice on stains especially rust stains and lay in the sun to work.. It did remove the rust stains..I've done it..
Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide cause a chemical reaction...and Blue Dawn is popular for almost everything it seems..
Red bleed through was larger than a dinner plate..washed in a tumble washer on heavy cycle..over an hour..mid way stopping It and applying Oxi-clean gel stain remover...it came out completely!! I'd do the same again...
Sure hope you got the stain on yours out...I didn't make mine, but all the hard work put into it...was well worth my time to find a remedy to remove the bleed from red flag fabric...
Oh..use a tumble washer. .even if you have to go to the laundry mat.just add the oxi-clean gel stain remover at the beginning since their washer may not allow to open mid way through..
Best wishes!!