To wash or not to wash?
Well, maybe the topic is "slightly" controversial. But let's get serious here, it's not like this is rocket science or deciding between dark and milk chocolate.
Okay, to get things started, there a really nice article about the pros and cons of pre-washing quilt fabric at Craftsy. Go read it and I'll wait......
Now, I'll tell you that I have prewashed my quilt fabric exactly ONE time. Yes, one time. It only took me that once to realized that I'm far too lazy and impatient for pre-washing and it was either giving up quilting or just quilting with fabric that hadn't been prewashed. I guess you can all guess which choice I made.
In all honesty, I really haven't noticed a big difference. I don't make quilts that are going to be passed down through the generations (for one thing, dogs just don't get into the whole handing down of a legacy thing). However, I'm sure if I did make such quilts, then I'd absolutely prewash my fabrics.
Okay, that's a lie. I still wouldn't. BUT, I might pay someone to wash them for me.
Yes, I'm that lazy.
I also happen to like the "look" of quilts whose fabrics were not prewashed. The way the fabric and stitching all kind of shrink together. For me, washing a quilt after piecing it lends itself to a really "cozy" looking quilt.
Don't look at me that way. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Now, I will admit that I am in the minority. There is a large contingency of quilters who, it would seem, would rather rotary cut with a dull blade than not prewash their fabric. They're the ones in quilt class that give you the evil stink eye when you mention you don't prewash, and then whisper about you with the instructor during break.
I could take a really cheap shot and state that lots of people SAY they prewash their fabric, but, well, really? I don't think so. I refuse to believe that there are that many people who have that much time and energy on their hands. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
The bottom line is, there really isn't a right or wrong answer. Unless, like me, you're a lazy lump, in which case prewashing is the wrong answer. Or, if you're an anal-retentive, perfectionistic, showoff, who is compelled to make sure their great, great, grandchildren get a quilt that looks like it was just pulled off the long-arm frame, then, prewashing is the right answer. Prewash and press, and hell, throw some starch on that quilting fabric, you little overachiever. Just keep your stink eye to yourself.
So, if you decide to follow the herd and prewash your fabric (and I won't think less of you if you do, although I might be a tad bitter) here is a really nice how-to video by Leah Day.
Of course you can totally solve the problem by quilting with pre-cuts that are already prewashed. But that's kind of like cheating, isn't it?