Monday, January 9, 2012

This Post is Brought to You by Shout and OxiClean

Subtitle: When Bad Things Happen to Goody Two-Shoed Quilters

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.

{this} close to being done 

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.

Color catchers progression 

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!


  1. Oh how painful that must have been. Major stress, I eat too much. But cleaning my kitchen sink is pretty theraputic. sp?

  2. I am doing the Takes Two challenge & am using reds & whites. For the first time ever, I prewashed all of my red fabric-with vinegar-then with color catchers. I'm praying that it will be enough and when it comes time to wash the completed quilt, I will be using several color catchers AND crossing my fingers & all my toes.

  3. I am doing the Takes Two challenge & am using reds & whites. For the first time ever, I prewashed all of my red fabric-with vinegar-then with color catchers. I'm praying that it will be enough and when it comes time to wash the completed quilt, I will be using several color catchers AND crossing my fingers & all my toes.

  4. I would have ate everything eatable in the kitchen. That's how I deal with stress and it's starting to show.
    Glad you were able to save your quilts. They are lovely.

  5. I wish that exercise was my stress mechanism. Unfortunately it's usually the opposite. Food, but also lots and lots of sewing comes in handy during stressful times, which doesn't add as many pounds as eating.

    Sorry to hear the sad tale of your quilt(s) but I'm glad it's a mostly happy ending. YAY for a supportive husband.

  6. Oh, I can't imagine the stress! When I'm on stress overload i curl up on the couch and watch bad reality TV :) I do need to wash a quilt made with Zipadee Doo Dah which is a Moda line with lots of red - my very first quilt ever and its never been washed, so i will certainly wash it alone and with several Shout Catchers! Thanks for the reminder (ive never tried the color catchers, but I've only washed 2 or 3 finished quilts.

  7. Oh no ... that is just the worst! So sorry you had to go through this. I also had a terrible color bleeding problem on a quilt not too long ago, and somebody asked if I had left the quilt in the washing machine for any length of time after the wash cycle was done. I had - it was probably sitting in the machine, wet, for 2-3 hours. Since then, every quilt I've heard of with color bleeds were left in the washing machine for at least an hour after the cycle was finished. So my new rule is, I always take quilts out of the washer IMMEDIATELY! Like, literally the minute they're done washing! Hopefully that helps for avoiding future problems!

  8. When I have stress, I read other quilters' blogs. They have a way of taking me away from my own problems, and of helping me realize that I'm not alone and that other people have real lives where real things happen, and not always good ones, just like me.
    BTW, when I make a quilt that is going to have some of the dreaded red fabric in it, I always treat the red fabric first with a product called Retayne. It sets the red dye so it won't bleed. I was told that neither vinegar or salt will work to set the new dyes that are used today. But that Retayne does the trick.

  9. When I'm stressed, I need some time alone. It's necessity!

  10. When I'm stressed, I just sit and watch TV (even though I know I've got tons of stuff that needs to be done). Doesn't really help.

    I'm so glad your situation came out to the good!

  11. Oh my - what a terrible thing to happen to your quilts! When I'm stressed I have to go to the gym and do some cardio while listening to some Van Halen or some such rock music. Then, once I'm all warmed up, I do some yoga and breathe!

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  13. Glad you saved your quilt in the end. When I am stressed, I tell myself "this is only a test". If I handle this right, I won't have to go through it again. Seems to work anyway.
    p.s. Love the labels you gave this post : )

  14. What a scary story! I'm a beginner quilter so thanks for warning me to be CAREFUL! I've never heard of colour catchers but I'll be getting some if I don't win any!

    Stress ... as a cancer survivor (so far) I've had my share. I just keep breathing. And play spider solitaire. And escape into a good book. And cry a little. And laugh a little. And I've discovered the healing power of making family heirlooms with my hands.

  15. Yikes! Walking to destress seams to help me...Baking cookies if the walk didn't work!

  16. Glad to hear your quilts are fine. What a scare. My coping mechanism is long long walks. The kind that makes your feet hurt for a couple of days.

  17. When I'm stressed I bury my head in the sand and waste time on the internet! It's VERY helpful.

    I've never tried color catchers before. I also never made giant quilts, but one day I will (Hexes! all prewashed!)

  18. I pace the house when I'm stressed. I think I'd have worn a track in the floor in front of the washing machine!
    I'm glad you were able to save your lovely quilts!

  19. Major stress reliever? Chocolate, of course!!

    I live and die by Color Catchers - we wash every single quilt we make for the ministry with at least one, because we never really know where all the fabric we used comes from or how old it is (older fabrics are less colorfast than modern ones!) And I never wash two quilts together unless they are made out of the same fabric. And Oxyclean is awesome for cleaning up any messes - I've even soaked antique lace in it with no problems, and have the prettiest lace around now!

  20. Oh, stress city for you! How awful! Been there, though--same thing happened to my husband's quilt. After three washes with color-catchers, I figured for SURE anything that was going to run would have run long since. Until he washed it warm water...without a color-catcher. Holy toledo, the white in half the blocks now has a lovely pink tinge--oy vey!
    In other news, I go to the spa once a month--a little local place--for a massage. Keeps my tension knots down to a dull roar, and for at least a few days, I'm super-mellow! They work wonders!

  21. OMG, how awful was that, Megan! I'm sorry that you went through all of that stress. I'm so glad that it all worked out in the end. I know the anxiety that comes from fabrics that run. I had a fabric that I tested before putting it on the quilt as the binding and it turned the water bright pink. I did some investigating and discovered Retayne. Have you heard of it? It fixes the color so it doesn't bleed anymore. I put just a teaspoon in the water and soaked the fabric. Bingo! The water was as clear as day and I became a believer.

    Regarding your question of how do I handle stress - I head straight for the fridge and find something sweet to eat.