How often do you wash your quilts?


After my last post I received an email in which the person mentioned that it seemed none of the 3 quilts I'd shared were made to be washed.  The person was right in that they are mini quilts and designed to be hung as art so they don't really need to be washed but of course it got me thinking about washing quilts.

I very, very rarely wash my quilts. I guess I'm lucky where we live that we have such lovely sunny days and I often take advantage of the sun's warm rays to hang quilts out to air. I find that freshens and fluffs them up. I don't have a clothes dryer so I can't compare it to tumble dried crumply goodness people talk of.
I don't have any pets hopping on the beds so that lessens the need to wash. Though I would jump at the chance to have a pet quokka, sloth or guinea pig( or all three!) 

So whether a quilt can be washed or not isn't foremost in my mind as I'm coming up with my designs. Plus in recent times the quilts I've been making are wall quilts and they just need a shake every now and then to stop them from getting dusty. I rotate the quilts on the walls every month or so and they don't get a chance to get dusty. They get their share of sun freshening too. 

But as I looked at my little mini quilts I thought why not have a go at washing one and see what happens. With a small quilt like this it would be just as easy and gentler to hand wash it but as part of the experiment I've decided to bravely chuck it in the washing machine to see what happens.  The quilt I picked was Asterisk Tricks, the one with the least stitches holding down the confetti strips.

It's done and I'm now writing this post as it's sploshing and tumbling in the washing machine like a disco dancing mermaid.

and I'm wondering...
Will the tie threads will hold? 
Will all the raw edges from the confetti strips unravel and disappear forever along with soap suds into the dark pipes? 
Will my quilting seed stitches pull, catch and tangle? 
Will the colourful colours run and cause tie dye rainbows on the linen? 
Will the linen distort and leave me with a strangely shaped soft sculpture?
Have I sent an innocent mini quilt on a fast track to the rag bin? 
oh my golly gumboots - 
It may never look like this again!! 

In the meantime here are some snapshots of my past week. 
Our house is being painted. Which means a lot of our furniture is being stored in my sewing room and piled up around where I sit at my computer. It makes things a little bit awkward but it's worth it for fresh white walls. 

Outside it's been raining. Glorious garden soaking spring rain!!

I never know quite how to photograph rain, especially when I'm trying not to get too wet myself, but I love how raindrops gather on leaves...

and make other leaves look glossy. 

The flamingos are in charge of looking after the lettuces. 

And Buddha adds a peaceful feeling to the garden. 

 On the sewing front I finished quilting this quilt and am halfway through the binding.

There goes the bell sound the washing machine makes when it's finished it's cycle... I'm off to see if my little quilt survived! I'll let you know how it turns out in the next post. It's too late in the day for photos now.

So tell me, I'm curious - how often do you wash your quilts? It'll be interesting for everyone to hear each other thoughts.
How often do you wash your quilts?

39 comments

  1. Although I have made SO many quilts I rarely get to keep them so personally I have hardly ever washed a quilt. However I know my quilts wash because they are usually for a baby or small child and therefore they are constantly being washed. The baby quilt I made for our granddaughter now resides on the bed she has at our house and has been successfully washed over and over again. I don't have a tumble drier either so I line dry our little girl's quilt.
    I always tie a card with Washing Instructions to my quilts and hope they are followed.
    " Gentle machine wash.
    Line dry or gentle tumble dry.
    No ironing at all! "

    I encourage Mums to use the baby quilts as playmats as well so I know they are constantly in the wash and stand up to that OK.
    Hope your little quilt survived the wash.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I throw my quilts into the washing machine all the time - in fact, whenever I make one for someone else, I make it a part of the making - in it goes into the machine, then I can check if there are any bits that didn't make it, and I can repair them before gifting it!

    I hope that you are not being washed out of your home with all the rain I hear is falling down in nSW!
    It is lovely to see the pictures of the raqin in your garden too! I have a flamingo in my garden also - perhaps they are related??

    ReplyDelete
  3. I usually wash my quilts directly after getting the binding on because I love that little bit of shrinkage with my hand quilting. Also, if I'm going to be gifting my quilt then I know for sure the seams will hold etc. Otherwise, we very rarely wash our quilts. No indoor pets so that isn't an issue here at all!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a whole cloth quilt that I put on my youngest's bed in summer. It gets washed any time it gets weed on, in the washing machine and line dried. It is holding up well but it is a whole cloth quilt.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a whole cloth quilt that I put on my youngest's bed in summer. It gets washed any time it gets weed on, in the washing machine and line dried. It is holding up well but it is a whole cloth quilt.

    ReplyDelete
  6. All my quilts get washed on a regular basis, including the ones that I gift. The first tied quilt that I made 5 years ago is still going strong and must have been washed at least 60 times as my daughter invariably drips tea on it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If I have a quilt on my bed for any length of time, like over winter, I will throw it in the machine and dryer in Spring. But some of my smaller quilts, which get much less use, have never been washed! I am rather worried about my red and white Christmas table runner though. Not sure how those red dyes will go if it needs some sprucing up after Christmas dinner! Maybe you could have given your quilts a natural clean in that lovely rain?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Rachael,what an interesting question,I have a quilt over the couch in the lounge room and it always get used by myself or grandies and I wash it often,actually it's due for another wash at the moment and touch wood it washes up fine every time. Oh I love your garden everything is so nice and green xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I first started making quilts as we sailed in a smallish yacht. Mostly by hand. When we came to a port to dock, quilt and other washing were tossed in a commercial machine and into the dryer. Ten years later these quilts are still used and wshed often. Now I always do the first wash using a couple of colour catchers , detergent and cold water. I've been lucky never to have a problem! Must confess I've never washed a wall quilt!! Good luck with your mini quilt! Love your garden. We are moving to NSW coast and look forward to warmer winters and trees!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I hope the wash goes OK! I washed a mini once because I got it in a swap and you could still see blue pen marks that I couldn't just get rid of with vinegar. It went an awful shape :( Larger quilts definitely wash better.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My quilts get washed because I use them all the time. Plus I have a cat who loves nothing better than to sit on my bed. The ones I call the utility quilts get thrown into the washing machine then hung out on the line to dry, and all have survived well, except the very first one I ever made. I overlocked the seams on that one, and thereby weakened them. It is also hand quilted, not very well, and not nearly enough. But it is 30 years old.
    I am amazed that anyone would want to throw a just complete quilt into a washing machine and then a drier. All I can say is "whatever for?"

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh I hope it survived! I wash my quilts, as I don't have any that aren't used. Having said that, Lily is about to hand stitch the binding on a mini that is intended to hang on a wall. So, we'll see how often we will wash it! I'm thinking that we will adopt your approach and shake and air it instead of washing. I LOVE your window with the black frame. What a view!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wash my bed quilts a couple times a year and they have held up well. Almost all wall quilts never get washed unless it looks too stiff or if I have used glue in the applique or bindings. I also put them in the dryer!!! I know people must be gasping!
    I am anxious to see what happened to your mini (-:

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ooooh, you're a brave girl! What happened to those little strips? I'm guessing the washing machine had a field day with them! Our everyday throw quilts that we use for tv watching get washed frequently (and they show the wear) -- mostly to get rid of the cat hair. Bed quilts with a lot more work in them are washed infrequently -- washing is hard on quilts! Can't wait to see that quilt that you've just finished!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a good question and such a fun post. I do love to wash a freshly finished quilt just to get that crinkly effect. I also wash our bed quilts and cuddle quilts on a regular basis as needed. We have three dogs and a cat, so pet hair is a constant battle that I am determined to win! I don't wash my wall hangings but I do change them out frequently and shake and fold them, much like you do it sounds. I haven't tried 'airing' them out, and will do that once our rain stops (11 days straight of no sun here) Sigh.
    Fingers crossed your cute little quilt survived it's trip through the wash.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your post made me laugh, remembering the time when my boys were babies. I was a working mom, going to grad school, AND I belonged to the Air National Guard. So I didn't have time to bathe them daily -- I told the pediatrician, "How dirty can a baby get?" So the same with my quilts -- I wash them when they get dirty!

    ReplyDelete
  17. My scariest moment was washing my best of show quilt after it hung on the wall for a couple of years. I wanted to use it in a trunk show, but the dust on it was nasty, and it just looked tired. It came out of a cool wash and tumble dry looking good as new!! No embellishments fell off, and the loft of the batting (Quilters Dream Wool)came right back. All the quilts on the beds get frequent washings. Wall hangings, about once a year.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wall hangings just get a dusted (a quick snap, the hand vac or lint roller depending on the amount of dust). Quilts that get used get washed.

    I bet your fresh white walls and the plentiful rain will be inspiring for you. Can't wait to see the outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love little Asterisk Tricks and I'm soooo worried about the washing results!! I never wash wall hangings and rarely wash the larger quilts either--just give them a fluff in the dryer to suck up any dust, etc. I would love to hang them outside, but we are surrounded with pines that rain sticky pollen on everything. My son's dog seems to be on an extended visit here, so I may be washing a few quilts now though....

    ReplyDelete
  20. I don't tend to wash my small quilts, especially if they have embellishments, but the big quilts? They have to be washed to get rid of sizing (if I've not pre-washed the fabric) and to bring up the quilting.
    95% of my quilts are destined for beds or couches though.
    I'll be interested to see how your quilt came out, if it is little knots of fabric...

    ReplyDelete
  21. I pre-wash all my fabric with Color Catcher. Some fabrics get washed multiple times, and some are washed on warm or hot. If I spend time making a quilt, I really it ruined by colors running -- but I do want it to be useful, which generally means it will need washing throughout its life.

    When I finish a quilt, I wash it again, on cold, with a color catcher. And yes, I throw it in the dryer, on low. Most of my quilts are given away or raffled/auctioned off, and I want to make sure they hold up to washing.

    I do have a quilt my mom and I made to hang at my wedding; it's currently hanging in my bedroom. I'm sure I washed the fabrics beforehand, but I'm not sure the quilt was washed after it was together. In any case, I don't think it's been washed since my wedding.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I really DON'T WANT it ruined by colors running...is what I meant to say. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Mini quilts that are wall hangings are rarely if ever washed. Mini quilts that are used as table toppers, table mats etc get washed as often as needed. Bed quilts are also frequently washed, especially those used by my children. I make my quilts to be used and enjoyed and regular trips to the washing machine are a part of that use.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I must be in the minority. I rarely wash any of my quilts. Only if they're muddy, bloody, or just too stinky. :0). I heard that once from a quilt appraiser. Usually just a fluff in a cool dryer or hung outside for a little air. I don't mark quilting lines with anything that needs to be washed out, or use much glue, or like quilts too crinkly. If it's a quilt for grandkiddos, that would be a different situation. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Will wash when required.....that's my motto in life and it's worked so far! Lol. A lot comes down to the washing machine too, front loaders are way more gentle than those with central agitators. I use wool wash detergent and gentle cycles....would not put mine in the dryer...but never say never. I have two over indulged and over excited chihuahuas in my life and they can get a wee bit jealous of the attention I give quilts rather than them. And when I say a wee bit jealous I mean yes they have been known to wee on my quilts!!! However vinegar sprayed on offending stain works, yes just plain vinegar sprayed and left will dissolve pet wee. Now I am sorry if my ramblings have strayed into areas you would not rather know about but I am a sharing kind of person, and this information may help someone, maybe or not. Hehehe.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have washed some of my quilts and they came out fine, just a cold wash, spin and then hung them on the washing line, those quilts were of the utility quilt variety. I have a couple of quilts that could do with a good wash, I just need a nice hot day and then I will do it.

    ReplyDelete
  27. FIRST of all: http://mentalfloss.com/article/57159/6-things-know-about-super-cute-quokka WHATABEAST!!! LOVE the peaceful Buddha. And you are making us WAIT re the quilt? Cliff hanger :) Unfortunately my quilts are quite old and I have BEASTS so only have old blankies on the bed.....Irish wolfhounds and quilts........no no no no! However I belong to a quilt group where we make pieced and tied quilts for nursing homes and my father had one. These quilts were washed in the commercial washing machines in the nsg. home and I have his quilt and it held up very well after several years. Surprising eh?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh, you minx! Not showing us how your mini fared in the wash!
    Me, I was -- a LOT! I seem to have quite a few very pale quilts & 2 dark-ish furred cats. So the quilts are in & out of the washer often.
    p.s. googling quokka

    ReplyDelete
  29. Lovely quilts! Can't wait to see that quilt that you've just finished!

    ReplyDelete
  30. This topic has developed into an interesting conversation.I am like you and do not have a lot of need to wash my quilts. I have done the washer and dryer bit on a couple just to see how they look, but I am not especially fussed about having them look crinkly.
    But the quilts that have gone to grandchildren go through the wash on a regular basis, but not the dryer. They still look like new and the bright colours have never run. Very pleasing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Rachael....I only wash my quilts when they need to be washed. I love using cotton batting as when it does get washed it kinda crinkles up and gives the quilt an antique look. Mind you Ibonly have a few quilts though! I love your garden especially the pink flamingo!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hhhmmm, what a good question. I usually wash my quilts after completion, especially since I've been glueing my binding lately.
    I like to pop my bed quilt (king size) into the dryer on "steam cycle" to refresh and remove dog and cat hair - it works great.
    I don't wash wall quilts ever after the first time when I block it.
    Kids quilts and utility quilts that I use around the house get washed when I change them out for new seasonal ones.

    Oh! I hope yours is okay as it has so many decorative elements.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Fingers crossed for the mini! I wash my quilts often. In a cold climate they get used and a bit funky smelling:( So far their survival rate in both washer and dryer is 100%. Off to google quokka!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Mine are made to be washed (on the whole) so get washed regularly. I give most of mine away so I know they'll get washed by their new owners so I give them a wash myself before they leave my hands to be sure there will be no dye run disasters!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Non ho mai avuto problemi con i passaggi in lavatrice della mia prima trapunta, ormai da dieci anni staziona per la maggior parte dell'anno, a parte i mesi più caldi estivi, sul nostro letto, il problema più grosso me lo danno i gatti, ma loro hanno sempre fatto parte della mia vita, quindi non me la prendo con loro!

    ReplyDelete
  36. What a wonderful post! We use all the quilts I make, both machine quilted and hand quilted ones go in the washing machine. They seems to be surviving just fine. I have not washed many wall quilts mainly because they don't need to be. I imagine all the antique quilts are still good after oh so many years, Mine will be fine. As the years go by, I love how they feel after multiple washes.
    Love the Buddha!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Washing a quilt...OMG...I have enough problem washing myself.
    Ok, fine...I wash them if the cat throws up on them...or if someone wets the bed...eg grandchildren..ha!! I wash them before I give them away. I wash them if they have cat or dog hair on them. Alright,this post has me nervous. I am going to take a shower myself now.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Well - I do wash quilts, bed quilts depends on how often we use them, but wall quilts maybe once a year. We live in a climate where we used forced heat in winter, the house is dusty, and I like them fresh. I use the washer and dryer. I do keep that in mind when I make them, though. I only have one that I've never washed, it was an experiment, and I'm afraid it won't hold up, lol. But, it stays tucked in a drawer, so it doesn't get dusty.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I wash mine once a half year. I love them to be clean but I'm afraid not to ruin them.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for leaving me a comment. I love to hear your thoughts. I don't always have time to reply but your wonderful words encourage me to keep sharing my work and stories.

Name

Email *

Message *