Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tutorial: Testing for Color Fastness

You know about my fear of dyes bleeding in finished quilts. Yikes.

I'm in Louisiana visiting my parents this weekend, so I brought along a little hand sewing. Before I cut up more scraps for rose star blocks, I wanted to test the color fastness of some fat quarters I bought. While you're usually pretty safe with quality quilt store fabrics, jewel tones make me nervous. Especially because I like to incorporate so much white in my quilts right now.

To test the color fastness, I gathered the questionable fabrics, some scissors, a container of hot, soapy water, and some paper towels.

I clipped a corner of each fabric, so I could test a small sample.

I dunked each clipping in the hot, soapy water and rubbed them with my fingers to make sure they were fully saturated. Then I pulled them out of the water and blotted them with a paper towel. If any dye transferred, I set that sample aside.

Here's a shot of a paper towel with dye transferred on it. It was hard to get a picture that successfully showed the dye transfer until the paper towel was dry. 

Some fabrics were clearly going to be problematic, and there was enough trace dye transfer that I went ahead and hand washed all of the fat quarters in hot, soapy water. Since there were only a few, I just agitated them in a large stock pot which I sat in the bottom of the sink. I did one load with the reds, pinks, and oranges and another load with the purples and blues.

You can see how much purple dye came out of the fabric when I poured out the water. I rinsed all of them and set aside the two which wouldn't quit putting off dye.

We had a fire going, so I just clipped a few at a time to the fire screen a safe distance away from the flames and ironed them once they were dry enough. I didn't want to put them in the dryer, because the fat quarters are too small. So much of the ends would ravel you'd lose a great deal of fabric.

I made sure to mark the two fabrics which wouldn't stop putting off dye with a note reminding me not to use them in any laundered projects. Maybe I'll save this pretty aqua and aubergine for some fabric flowers.

It takes very little time to test your fabric for color fastness. It's worth it to prevent the horror of pulling a quilt out of the washing machine to find that dyes bled into the lighter fabrics.

I hope everyone gets to do some sewing this weekend. Happy Crafting!

No comments:

Post a Comment