Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Batik Fabric Prep and the Beauty of Tibetan Prayer Flags Blowing in the Breeze

It's a beautiful summer day, and I was hanging up some batiks and was struck by how beautiful they looked blowing in the gentle breeze.  They remind me of Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the breeze.

I just got an order of gorgeous batik fabrics for a quilt.  The pattern is the Argyll quilt pattern by Jinny Beyer in the Java colour way.  I love these fabrics, especially the warm browns and ivory with the pink fabrics.

Although I always pre-wash or pre-treat my fabrics when garment sewing, I must admit I don't always do so for quilting fabrics.  If I'm not concerned about shrinkage, I may not pre-wash my fabrics. If I'm using pre-cuts like jelly rolls or even fat quarters, I definitely don't pre-wash.  Those small pieces would be such a tangly mess. Although, batiks don't unravel much.  If I'm not concerned about dyes bleeding, then I don't pre-wash either.  Pre-washing, I find, is a relaxing way to check out each fabric, see if the dyes bleed and to avoid shrinkage.  I also enjoy ironing each fabric and folding it neatly.  It's just another step in enjoying the beautiful fabrics.  But, sometimes you're just in a rush, and that's fine too.  There's no pre-washing police!

The finished quilt size is 83 3/4"X 99" which is a good size for a double bed, and barely fits my queen width-wise. I like a lot of overhang on my quilts.  Hence, the concern with shrinking, especially after quilting and washing. So, I'd rather be on the safe side and prevent shrinking as much as possible

I hand washed these fabrics in separate batches with similar shades together using Eucalan.  I use Eucalan for washing my hand knits.  It's very gentle and has some lanolin in it which protects and conditions wool which prevents it from becoming harsh and brittle. But  Eucalan is also suitable for any gentle hand-washing. Plus you don't have to rinse it out.  I sometimes use it for washing my hand made garments because it's so gentle.  To prevent fading of fabrics, just be sure to use a phosphate-free detergent and cold water.

I kept the fabrics separate to prevent bleeding.  If they're damp and sitting on each other for a long time, there's a possibility of colour transfer.  I squeezed out as much water as possible without wringing the fabric because wringing distorts the grain.  Then the fun part is hanging them outside on the line.
I'm fortunate to have a large yard with a long laundry line, and I love to use it in the summer.  The thing to remember is not to leave fabrics in bright, hot sun for too long because they will fade.    I had definitely made that mistake with my clothes when I left them out in the sun.  The best line drying weather is definitely a cloudy day with a bit of a breeze. These fabrics got some lovely dappled sunshine, and I flipped them over a couple of times to avoid fading.  Another thing to be aware of when line drying is that larger pieces can get heavy, and hanging them can distort the grain.  So, squeezing them out well after washing is helpful.
When they were semi-dry, I brought them in and finished drying them in the dryer on low heat for about 20 minutes, and they came out beautiful, fluffy and soft.

Next step is ironing.  I love to use steam on a cotton setting for almost everything.  I did find some pieces just slightly off grain.  A little gentle tugging easily straightened them out, though.

Here is my small, folded pile of freshly laundered batiks.  I'll put them in a large Tupperware container to store it until I'm ready to make this quilt.  If I really want to surprise my future self, I may cut the pieces as per pattern instructions and label each fabric.  It's always nice to start a project with everything ready to sew!

Thanks for reading my blog and
Happy Sewing!

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