I usually prewash all my fabrics, for various reasons mostly related to assuring they don’t bleed and are preshrunk. Lately, though, I have had so many projects with tight due dates that I haven’t had a chance to follow my usual routine, and I noticed two things that convinced me even more that prewashing is a good idea:
1) The amount of lint I have had to clean out of my sewing machine and longarm has easily quadrupled. Over the long run, that may lead to more servicing as things get gunked up (depending on personal vigilance, of course.
2) As I was ironing my fabrics (from various manufacturers), I noticed a strong odor coming from the fabrics, probably a combination of sizing and fabric dyes and other additives. I had read a while back about a woman who worked at Quilt University, and who had become so sensitive to these chemicals from working with fabrics that she couldn’t even go into a fabric store. I thought that was rather extreme until I noticed I had started wheezing after an ironing session, and sometimes had tiny red dots on my hands after ironing. I know many people don’t have the sensitive skin that I do, but if we’re going to be conscientious about washing produce and reducing the amount of lead in toys, we need to realize that printing fabric has some really sketchy chemicals associated with it. Not to mention, there are all sorts of gross things that can happen accidentally in transit.
Anyhoo, those are my reasons to prewash in addition to the whole preshrinking and non-bleeding issues. It was kind of an unwitting trial, but really made me stop and think about it from another angle.
Happy sewing, y’all!