Monday, July 04, 2016

What to do when your finished quilt BLEEDS...

I have posted this information previously.  Similarly, I wrote an article that was published last August in Machine Quilting Unlimited that addressed the subject.  I still, however, continue to receive a number of emails about what to do when a quilt you have made has bled when it got wet.  Sometimes this happens when you wash them, and often it is while trying to block the quilt -- a process quilters use after quilting to get the quilt flat and square again.   Once again, I will ask those of you that choose to leave me comments to double-check your settings.  If you do not have an email address defined within blogger, it will send me your message as "no-reply" and I cannot reply my answer.

So this past week, back from a week in Mexico, I decided to muster the energy to block this quilt.  Her name is "The Twisted Sister", and she's definitely twisting my patience.  But I am older and wiser, and more patient to the ways of fabrics when they decide to bleed.  In my humble defense, I thought I had pre-soaked every fabric I expected to potentially cause problems.  That is always your first line of defense to prevent bleeding.  More than just prewashing...Presoak that fabric in very hot water for a few hours.  Presoak!  I especially do this with the silk Radiance, as it bleeds unpredictably.  I refuse to use the chemicals on the silk, so presoaking is best.
The quilt actually blocked out very nicely, and I was able to align all of the narrower borders.  It wasn't until the following morning that I started seeing  hints of dye where it did not belong.
 ...dark streaking along the ivory silk
 ...zebra fabric looking "dingy"
 ...little dark dots on the hexagon flower

I knew that the zebra fabric had bled, and I wasn't going to be happy until I fixed it.

Backtrack...Your first blocking or soaking (assuming you don't expect it to bleed) should be in cold water.  This is because generally there are blue or purple marking pen lines to remove, and anything but cold water will heat set them.  If you never used these pens, and you suspect you may have fabrics that will bleed, you can jump right to where I am now....The HOT soak

Draw a bath at least 1/2 full with the hottest water you can get from your tap.  Add 1/4C of Dawn dish detergent into this tub, and mix it around as the water fills.  Which type of Dawn to buy?...honestly, I don't know.  I use the blue stuff, and it does a fine job.  

Next loosely fold your quilt with the quilt top folded outwards.  This is so you can see if the bleeding areas are improving.  Put quilt into tub, and submerge.  You can use plastic containers filled with water.  I used my laundry basket.
You need to move the quilt around periodically.  As the water cools, check the areas that had dye migration.  If it does not appear gone after 2-3 hours, drain the tub and repeat the procedure.  I have done this for as much as 8-12 hours.  Do not dry the quilt in between.

When you think you are done, drain and fill the tub with cold water (no Dawn) and allow the soap to soak out of the quilt for a short while.  Drain and you are done.

Lastly, gently roll the quilt on top of many towels to remove some excess water.  I do not put it into the washer to spin, just place it onto my foam core boards and block.

This procedure works for silk Radiance fabrics and cottons.  Do NOT do it for dupioni EVER.

Bleeders can really stress us out as quilters, as we have spent hundreds of hours making our quilt.  It is so important to remember that these are generally fixable, so please DO NOT STRESS!  Be calm.  If you see a bleed, don't put the quilt into a dryer before trying to fix the bleed.  That may heat-set the problem for eternity.

I have had these nuisance bleeders on several show quilts, despite actually prewashing or presoaking most fabrics.  Sometimes there are dyes that are overly prone to not staying where they belong!  I have coached a dozen quilters on this procedure after they had a bleed, and ALL report that it works.
Thanks to Vicki Welsh that did the early leg work to establish these guidelines, and who talked me through them on my first disastrous bleed.  Spread the word so that others know what to do.

Synthrapol...many like to jump to this as soon as they see a bleed.  I won't use the chemicals on the silk as it can affect the sheen.  Additionally, it is not available locally for me, but nearly every grocery store carries Dawn, and at 1/4 the cost of synthrapol.

Color catchers...These are no longer available in my local stores either.  They work better for fabrics being prewashed, but all they really do is give you an indicator if there is still dye migrating into the water.  I still advise soaking, rather than just washing.

I am happy to report that my quilt is back to normal, and is in the process of getting its binding.

Good luck~

9 comments:

Cheryl Lynch said...

My purple dupioni has bled. I was going to try the dawn method. You say no. Reasons? Suggestions?
Thank you for being so generous and sharing your tips.

patricia geishirt said...

And what happens to dupioni silk if this treatment is done?

LateBloomer said...

I have used this process several times with excellent results. When I ran out of color catchers, I threw a few white towels in the water. They definitely absorbed the excess dye. Then, just bleach wash towels when done.

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much, Margaret!! This is so well explained!

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much, Margaret!! This is so well explained!

Doreen Auger said...

Very interesting post and one that I will use for reference in the future. I don't like all the chemical alternatives to counteract bleeding either. I haven't had problems finding Color Catchers and do send a couple, with directions, along with many of the client quilts I do. Luv Dawn!!!!!!

Dora, the Quilter said...

What I've noticed over the years is that the inconsistency in the ph from the wells of the water systems where I have lived can lead to bleeding.

One place I lived, the water could come out of the tap at 8.5 some days and closer to 5.5 or 6 others. With the change of ph, my hand-dyed fabrics would bleed.

Unknown said...

I recently had a terrible bleeding issue. I made a bow tie quilt with a black background printed with colored dots. As I wanted a fluffy soft back, I used black chenille. Great for softness. But the first washing was awful, and the 2nd not much better. I found a similar blog with these directions. And it worked great; I also used the blue Dawn. I did have to soak it a 2nd time in a new batch of HOT water as the color was literally black, and not able to be seen through at all. And it soaked for 5 to 6 hours. Again, great results.

Debbie said...

If you need/want some of the Color Catcher sheets, let me know I just bought some here in Houston and will be happy to send you some.
Debbie