This weekend, it happened to me. That's right, the one thing that all quilters, modern and traditional alike, dread:
My red fabrics bled on not one but two finished quilts.
Stuff like that isn't supposed to happen to me. I still pre-wash my fabrics, for pete's sake. It all started the middle of last week when I decided it would be a good idea to do a load of "Christmas laundry" before I put away all the decorations for the year. So, into the wash went my 12 Days of Christmas throw quilt, my 12 Days of Christmas tree skirt, a tablerunner, and the Husbatron's NCSU quilt for the heck of it because it hadn't been washed yet. (Insert ominous foreshadowing music now.)
During Netflix night on Saturday, the Husbatron pulled his NCSU quilt out of the dryer to warm himself up a bit. (Please ignore the fact that a load of laundry sat in my dryer for 4+ days. I said I'm a goody two-shoed quilter, not a goody two-shoed housekeeper.) The light was pretty dim in the family room that night, but after the movie was over, he pointed at a white part of his quilt and casually said, "Does that look pink to you?"
I played it cool on the outside, kept binding my HST quilt, and nonchalantly said, "Hmm, you go on to bed. I'll see what I can do." But on the inside, panic gripped my heart and constricted my airways. I mentally reviewed all the fabrics in his quilt and their point of origin. They all came from "good" fabric shops and the fabrics had been pre-washed before I cut them up for his quilt. I scolded myself for not throwing a color catcher in the wash with the Christmas load, since I knew the NCSU quilt, in its entirety, had never been washed before. But in the spirit of setting aside regrets and plowing ahead, I decided to throw the NCSU quilt in the wash with a heckalotta color catchers and see what happened. I threw a small scoop of Borax and another small scoop of OxiClean in there for good measure.
Since I was running the wash anyways, I figured I might as well throw my freshly bound HST quilt in the washer with it.
Is anyone getting anxious yet?
Sunday morning, I pulled the quilts out of the wash and noticed that the pink was mostly gone from the white spots on the NCSU quilt. There are still a few miniscule pink spots on the quilt, but you have to really look for them. Huzzah!! I didn't destroy the Husbatron's quilt! Our marriage is saved! I credit Shout! Color Catchers for removing the pink tinges and saving our marriage.
Then there was the HST quilt. The Kona Snow background was still purrrrr-fectly bright white. The cream in the Moda charm squares that I used, on the other hand, somehow absorbed any and all loose dye and turned pastel pinkish melon color. Which I would have been fine with if I was using a traditional 3 Sisters or Fig Tree charm pack. This lovely pastel pink-melon color did NOT coordinate well with the fun, bright modern prints from Freebird and Chrysalis.
So, I ran it through the wash with Color catchers a couple more times. The color catchers caught some color, but they weren't really pulling any color out of the cream fabrics. And I could tell that the amount of dye they caught was on the wane.
At this point, I seriously considered donating the quilt to the guild just so I didn't have to see it ever again. When the Husbatron gently asked what the guild would do with it, my reply was something like, "I don't care, as long as it's not in my house anymore. They'll probably give it to some dumb orphan."
Um, I know. I'm terrible and black-hearted when I'm frustrated. It's a wonder God did not smite me down on my way to guild last night. Choosing to ignore that he managed to marry the most callous quilter on the planet, the Husbatron calmly asked if OxiClean might help.
So after consulting Google and discovering that OxiClean is gentle enough for antique quilts and has been successful for other quilters with similar angst, I figured, eh, what the hay. I have nothing to lose at this point.
I soaked the HST quilt in a big bucket filled with warm water and 2 scoops of OxiClean for 20 minutes, and then ran it through a rinse/spin cycle in the wash. Finally, THAT seemed to lift most of the dye out of the cream spots. The cream prints aren't quite as bright as they were a few days ago, but they're certainly not pink anymore.
I give you the cleanest quilt east of the Mighty Mississippi.
In the end, all's well that's in well I suppose, but for about 24 hours straight, I was one big ball of anxiety, wondering if the quilts I worked on for hours would ever be restored to their former glories. I know this whole whiney post definitely falls into the first-world-problem category. But I just got so frustrated when I thought about how much time I spent on both those projects, and how they went from lovely and fun to ulgh in just 2 loads of laundry. I'd really prefer to avoid anxiety and frustration like this in the future, if at all possible.
In the spirit of learning from past mistakes, this is what I'm taking away from yesterday's fiasco:
- If you're washing a finished quilt for the first time, for the love of all that is quilty, use a color catcher or three.
- If you have some dye transfer issues with a quilt, do NOT wash another brand spankin' new quilt in the same load with the quilt that has issues. (Filed under: DUH)
- Bad things happen to good quilters, so it's a good idea to always keep OxiClean and color catchers on hand.
Once the weather clears up, I'll be back with the official "finished" post for the HST quilt.
In the meantime, if you hung in there long enough to read all this mess that's largely devoid of images, you deserve a prize, or at least you deserve to be eligible for one.
If you'd like to win your own box of Shout! color catchers, just leave a comment below, answering the following question:
What's your favorite coping mechanism for stress? Do you bake a cake? Hop online to shop for more fabric? Do you bust out the sweat bands and leg warmers to walk away the pounds? Do you clean out a closet? Scrub-a-dub the tub? Crank out a scrap quilt? Inquiring minds want to know.
I'll close the giveaway on Thursday, January 12 at 9pm EST and announce a winner shortly thereafter.
UPDATE: Comments are CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered!
UPDATE: Comments are CLOSED. Thanks to all who entered!