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1. What is a Fabric Bleed Test?
Carrying out a fabric bleed test represents an important step to do for any new fabric that you intend to use in a quilting project. Lots of fabrics are susceptible to “bleeding”, which refers to the tendency of losing the dye after washing. Even if you choose high-quality quilting fabrics that boast great colorfast performance, it’s safe to say that you can still run into the problem of fabric bleeding. All dyes can run after a wash though it seems that red and purple tones are particularly likely to bleed.
Fabric bleeding is a critical issue to watch out for because many fabrics only show this problem after the quilt has been washed multiple times. Therefore, it could be a good idea to test the fabrics for bleeding before you go ahead with your quilting projects. This is a highly recommended solution if you have any suspicion regarding the stability of the fabric’s dyes. Some fabrics could bleed very little yet still be enough to affect adjacent patches sewn together in a quilt. Let’s find out how to perform a fabric bleed test.
2. How to do a Fabric Bleed Test?
The testing process starts with putting a piece of the fabric in soapy water to sit for around 30 minutes. By giving the fabric a good soak, you should be able to simulate the washing conditions that cause the bleeding. After the time has elapsed, look closely to see if the water has changed its color. Any possible discoloration can mean that the fabric’s dye has the potential to bleed into other fabrics.
What if the water shows no discoloration? In that case, it could mean that your fabric isn’t vulnerable to bleeding. However, more testing is required to confirm this. Repeat the initial soaking process in a different batch of soapy water for another 30 minutes. Once you do this, it’s recommended to take out the fabric piece and put it on a white paper towel. The absorbent properties of the paper towel can easily capture any dye that runs from the fabric.
If the paper towel doesn’t show any stains, it means that your fabric is fairly safe to be used without worrying about bleeding dyes. Otherwise, you can expect unwanted dye transfers when washing a quilt made with the fabric. Rinse out the test piece of fabric and allow it to dry. Do the fabric bleeding test once more to be sure that it can be safely used for the quilt. When there’s no longer any sign of bleeding and staining on the paper towel, make sure you pre-wash the fabric before use.
3. Preventing Fabric Bleeding
When you’re faced with the problem of fabric bleeding that doesn’t go away after a few pre-washes, your best bet is to use a specialized product that prevents the issue. A good example is Synthrapol which can maintain the colors suspended during the washing process to avoid the dyes from running into other fabrics. Another great product is Color Catcher which absorbs loose dyes. Although these products can be useful to prevent fabric bleeding, they’re not foolproof and they could be required for several washes.