Disaster Averted!

I ended my last post with the breezy statement that after binding and labeling Diane’s Car Quilt, I was going to pop it into the washer and dryer to achieve that soft crinkly effect. Little did I know what was in store. . .

Into the washing machine the quilt went with a few clean rags to even out the load and a couple of Color Catchers, those ingenious paper-like squares that trap excess dyes in the wash water. I washed the quilt in cold water on a delicate cycle, something I have done many times with other quilts being washed for the first time. Imagine my shock and disbelief when I pulled the quilt out of the washing machine and saw blotches of red and blue all over the yellow fabric. My quilt — excuse me, Diane’s quilt — had bled! The dyes had even traveled through the batting to the quilt back.

Diane and I were in a panic. I’m one of those quiltmakers who wash and iron all of their fabrics before cutting into them. How did this happen? I have a theory, which I will tell you about shortly. Our first course of action was to spray Shout, a laundry stain remover, on all of the offending places. We filled the stationary tub next to the washing machine with cold water, plunged the quilt in, and let it soak. While that was happening, I started searching the Internet for remedies.

I remembered reading about quilt bleeding before and recalled that Dawn dishwashing liquid was involved in solving the problem. Sure enough, I found several references. There were variations in the approach but most recommended soaking the quilt in hot water with Dawn.

We washed the quilt again in cold water to remove the Shout. I wish I could say it came out perfectly but it didn’t. It was definitely better but there were still offending blotches all over the quilt. This time I applied Dawn liberally to each remaining blotch, filled the stationary tub with warm water, and put the quilt back in to soak. I just couldn’t bring myself to use hot water as most sites recommended.

Fast forward to a happy ending. After a soak in the warm water and one more trip through the washer using warm water, the quilt came out with nary a bleed spot in sight. Whew! Into the dryer it went, and it dried beautifully. It did shrink a bit more than I expected, finishing at 40½” square.

So . . . this is what I think happened:  my washing machine is the kind that adjusts the water level to the size of the load. First it releases a little water into the drum, spins the load a bit, adds more water, spins again, and finally lets the remaining water in before the agitation begins. I think the bleeding happened in the initial stages of the water filling the drum, when the fabrics in the quilt were only slightly wet and were rubbing against each other as the load was spinning.

It didn’t occur to me to take photos of the bleeding for my blog. I was totally fixated on trying to eliminate the blotches. You can bet that the next time I wash a quilt, I will immerse it in water in the stationary tub first and transfer it to the washing machine while it’s soaking wet.

And now I am both relieved and delighted to show you my sister’s freshly laundered car quilt. As you can see, Coco has claimed it, albeit temporarily. Notice not one but two proprietary paws:

All’s well that ends well!




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11 Responses to Disaster Averted!

  1. Catherine Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing, Dawn. The panic you must have felt was probably felt by all of us while reading your post! So thankful everything turned out well for Diane’s car quilt. Sharing how you researched, and the steps you took to remedy the crisis, is a great help to all of us. Thank you again for sharing. The quilt is beautiful! ❤️

  2. Anna says:

    So happy for your very positive ending! There are many reasons I prefer the old-fashioned, water and energy-gobbling washing machines. This would be one of them. “if” I ever return to the states, I’m going to find some old ones that still work and buy a few. Must have a back up! Looks like Coco is comfortable. Diego is currently dozing on a lap quilt a friend made for me.

  3. Christine Lentz says:

    Wow! What a story. And you kept your calm throughout!

  4. Janice Smith says:

    Whew! I’m glad things worked out so well.
    Coco is adorable. 😉

  5. Diane says:

    The discovery of this problem was truly shocking, but it was so like Dawn to be reassuring about ways it could be fixed. Her triumph of actually making it happen is such a testimony to her perseverance. What a sister! And oh how I will love and enjoy this quilt!

  6. Auntie Em says:

    Yikes! I could feel your panic as I read this. I always wash my fabrics before using them too, and I would have never expected such a reaction. Glad it had a happy ending.

  7. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Dawn, I am SO glad you were able to remedy the bleeding! And now I have learned that I cannot wash a quilt in my new washer until the quilt is soaked! I am not sure these new washers are as wonderful as they are made out to be. Of course, I had my Sears Kenmore for 30 years, so getting used to a new one would be hard in any case. The quilt is lovely, and worthy of a two-paw vote by Coco! hugs from chilly Bend, Suzette

  8. Bridget says:

    My high efficiency washer allows me to run a load with as much water as I want before agitating. It also allows a soak cycle. They were two items I looked for on a machine because my husband has managed to get tomato sauce, soot, and wine on different quilts…don’t ask, he is on thin ice over here! 😮 😉 and yes, the Red ran in my quilt even though the fabric had been washed…but then so has blue…so glad yours came clean!! I love the fabrics, it is gorgeous!

  9. Linda says:

    I completely understand the sinking feeling you experienced when you saw the dye had bled on your sister’s quilt. The same thing happened to me years ago (before the Dawn liquid treatment was known), and I’ve become rather obsessive since then about treating reds and dark blues with Retayne before using them. Your finished quilt is lovely, and will be all the more treasured with its history!

  10. Linda says:

    I’ve read about the Dawn detergent solution and am happy to hear it really works!

  11. Sandy says:

    Whew! I always worry about bleeding when I wash a quilt for the first time even though I use Retain and color catchers. I’m so glad you got the blotches out!

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