Monday, January 20, 2014

Design Wall Monday: Success, Discovery and Despair

Anders Finished his First Quilt Top!
Let's start with the success.  My son Anders finished his very first quilt top yesterday!  The animal print blocks were supposed to be just a practice exercise for learning to sew straight seams, but Anders really wanted to make them into a quilt so we "stretched" them with the jungle print fabric.  The young quilter has selected lime green Minky backing fabric for this project.

So, that's the success.  Now for the disaster!

Pink Selvages?
As I was pressing my red poinsettia fabric in preparation for cutting out the setting triangles for my Jingle quilt, I noticed that this prewashed fabric yardage had PINK selvages instead of white.  At first I thought the dye in this Hoffman "Winter Magic" print fabric must have bled in the wash, but then I remembered that since I had purchased so many different fabrics for this project, I prewashed them in batches according to color.  All of my red fabrics went in together... And, now that I'm thinking about it, I realize that the most likely culprit for dye that isn't colorfast has got to be the two red batiks that are not only sprinkled throughout the pieced blocks, but also used for all of the stuffed berries and cardinals that I have been painstakingly appliqueing by hand over the past 10 months.  There is still SO much work left to do on this project, from the pieced borders and assembly of the quilt top on through the quilting, and the first thing I do with a new quilt after I finish binding it is to run it through the washing machine to remove any markings, dirt, or grime that may have accumulated during its creation.  Am I seriously going to go through all of that work, only to have red dye run all over the place and turn my off-white background fabric pink?!

I tried to remain calm.  Perhaps there was just some excess dye in the fabric initially that was rinsed away when I prewashed it?  Maybe the fabric would be okay now?  To test this, I put some boiling water into a Pyrex cup and dropped snips of the suspected culprit fabrics into the water.  Unfortunately, when the water cooled down and I removed the fabric scraps, the water was definitely pink.  Now, I would never wash a quilt in boiling hot water, and maybe the dye behaves better in cold water, but do I really want to invest another hundred hours or so before I find out?

Bleeding Bird and Berry Batiks  :-(
Here's what I decided to do.  I sewed some scraps of the offending fabrics to scraps of my off-white background fabrics.  Nothing fancy (Anders was laughing at me while I did this).  I'm going to put this little test rag into a mesh lingerie bag and put it in the wash with a load of warm laundry, and we'll see what happens. 

Ugly Test Rag
HOPEFULLY, I can use a couple of dye catcher sheets to absorb any remaining excess dye and then everything will be fine after that.  However, there is a definite possibility that either or both of these batiks will turn out to be perpetual dye bleeders that should never have been used in the first place.  All of the quilting books I have read warn you to test every single fabric before you use it in a quilt, but after testing a few fabrics and never finding a problem, I got lazy and decided that any fabric I purchased from a quilt shop was probably just fine. 

And if it turns out that one or both of these batiks or other fabrics is NOT just fine?  Well, that means hours spent with a seam ripper attempting to unpick my miniscule applique stitches without ripping through my block backgrounds, and completely remaking every single bird and berry in different fabrics, as well as taking apart and remaking every pieced block that contains these fabrics.  Hence the DESPAIR. 

The only upside here is that, by discovering the problem at this point in the project, I still have the ability to remove the offending fabric without the entire project being ruined.  I haven't been able to bring myself to wash that test rag yet, though -- I need time to emotionally prepare in case the experiment does not go well.

Meanwhile, I'm still working away at the center applique medallion, which looks like this right now:

At least I haven't made the berries for the medallion yet.

Well, I'm linking up to Judy's Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times, and I encourage you to check out all the other links to see what everyone else is up to this week. If anyone reading this has any suggestions about my bleeding batik dye problem, please let me know in the comments.

Happy Monday!


Cathy said...

Vicki Welsh did a tutorial, and a really good one, on how to deal with bleeding fabrics that are already in a quilt. Here's the link.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca Grace - I feel so bad about your bleeding fabric but all is not lost by any means! No matter which fabric it is that is bleeding, a Color Catcher should help immensely. Also, repeated washing as soon as the quilt is complete, without drying after each wash, and the bleeding dye will all come out eventually. This happened to me about 20 years ago with a quilt I made using teal and peach Ginny Beyer fabrics that ran like crazy. After the first washing I thought the quilt was ruined. But I just kept washing it and washing it (using Tide) and finally all the running teal dye had gone from the peach fabrics. It can be done! Claudia W

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Cathy! So it sounds like Vicki recommends a cold water rinse followed by an overnight soak in HOT water and Dawn Ultra dish detergent, then rinsing and drying as usual, and she found that the dye catchers don’t really help the quilt but instead just catch loose dye that would have rinsed away regardless. But should I really go ahead and finish piecing this, invest hours quilting it, and only attempt to correct the dye crisis AFTER the entire quilt is completed? What if it doesn’t work?


Quilter Kathy said...

Great photo of your son at the machine!
Some people wash fabric in vinegar and/or Retayne, then in the machine with a color catcher.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Anders is adorable and his quilt is so cool! I saw that post from Vicki and thought it made lots of sense. I am confident it will all come out. It sounds like it's an overdye situation as opposed to a true bleeder. If that is the case, you can "catch" the dye in its fugitive stage before it settles on your quilt.

Ivory Spring said...

Anders' quilt is impressive!! You have a world class quilter in the making there.

Re: bleeding --- sorry to hear! BUT, I feel like the slight pink might give the fabric a bit of a mottled yet contemporary look. Just a thought. :)

Vivian said...

Love the eyes peeking out of his quilt, very impressive.
Your poinsettia fabric would look really good with the BOM, I have tried to un-pick hand applique, it is quite impossible, (at least it was for me). You can hand wash your blocks (in the sink) before sewing them into the quilt, with a color catcher. That is what I have been told to do and rinse them on a towel. Wash until nothing bleeds. Your applique is too perfect to change, the colors work really well.