Fabric Bleeding (or why you should always use a colour catcher)

My best friend recently had a baby, a very sweet, very cute baby girl.  And I’m a quilter, so of course I made her a quilt.  It’s what we do, right?  I swear, when someone a quilter knows well has a baby, it’s like a homing signal goes off in your brain and it won’t stop until you start sewing.  But I love sewing, so that’s not a problem.

Anyway! I made her a quilt.  I used a pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew for a quick baby quilt.  And it was very quick; I had the top together in an evening, using a bobbin that seemed to go on forever.  I love when that happens!  All was going well.

Baby Quilt

I basted the quilt, which was also quick and easy since it was small.  I had planned to free-motion the quilt, but my machine is still giving me endless trouble when I try to free-motion.  The thread will snap after about 10 seconds nearly every time.  So maddening!  A long and frustrating story that is not the point of this post.  Back to the topic, the quilt was stitched with my walking foot using organic lines down the length of each strip.

The binding went on quickly and was easy peasy. I usually hand-stitch my bindings but I did this one by machine because I figured it would get washed lots and I wanted it to wear well. So I was all done, just a day and a half after I started. And then I threw it in the washer….

Disaster! I always use a colour catcher the first time I wash a quilt. Always. And usually that colour catcher comes out the same colour it went in because the fabrics dyes hold. Except! This one time, I was in a hurry and I forgot to put that blasted colour catcher in the washing machine. So what happens? One of the fabrics bleeds! Argh. I was not happy.

Baby Quilt - bleeding!

You can see, it was that very dark pink on the top left. I said not nice words to the fabric but it was too late. The damage had been done. I was so deflated about the whole project, and I hemmed and hawed over whether to give it to her at all. In my eyes the whole thing was completely ruined. But then I decided to give it to her anyway. Maybe if it was already stained, she would’t worry so much if it got puked on. 🙂

Baby Quilt - bleeding!

The dye went onto this section as well because of the way it ended up folded in the washer. Grrr.

Baby Quilt

So I dropped it off at her house when I picked up her older daughter for preschool (our daughters are in the same class) and she texted me later to say thanks, and I apologized for the blasted fabric bleeding and said I’d make her another. And she said, “What fabric bleeding?” She hadn’t even noticed! I mean, she saw it after I said something, but what was so glaringly obvious to me she didn’t even notice. I guess you always only see the flaws in your own work.

Moral of the story: friends appreciate the thought that goes into your work and don’t see mistakes like you do. But also, just don’t forget the colour catcher. I know I never will again.

15 thoughts on “Fabric Bleeding (or why you should always use a colour catcher)

  1. What a shame. I was taught to use vinegar in a wash of colours the first time they were washed, but; I have also taken to washing my fabrics as soon as I get in the door to pre-shrink, and eliminate excess dyes. I hope there is something you can do??


  2. I recently prewashed two red fabrics by hand because I was in a hurry and I didn’t have a suitable laundry load to run — a printed one, and a red solid Kona. Guess which one bled? The printed one. I usually don’t prewash my solids, so thank goodness they seem to be colourfast.


  3. That has happened to me, too…and on a quilt using that very same pattern, lol! But where does one buy a colour catcher in Canada? Can we get them here, now? I admit I haven’t looked in awhile because they didn’t used to sell them here…


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