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Denim woes
is it actually a delicate fabric?
blue mooney
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blue mooney
Intermediate
TX USA
Member since 12/21/02
Posts: 1867
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Date: 12/29/08 7:52 AM

Denim is a great fabric for my everyday life and I am always on the lookout for colors and weaves other than the usual blue denim. But often, when I pre-wash, the dye comes off in irregular diagonal streaks across the yardage, and it's ruined.

This is stuff from well-thought of internet dealers, and hasn't been cheap.

I have a front-loading machine, and wash denim in cold water on the regular cycle. Does it have to be washed like a delicate? Dry cleaned? That just seems wrong! Was the fabric trash to start with?

Any advice appreciated!

------
--Robyn
sewing blog: http://bluemooney.wordpress.com/
illustration blog: http://storybooky.wordpress.com/

Big Dog

Big Dog
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MI USA
Member since 1/22/06
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Date: 12/29/08 7:58 AM

Denim does normally fade, and the first few washes a lot of excess dye does come out, but I've never had a problem with it fading unevenly. My first thought would be a manufacturing problem. Is there any way you can use the stripes as a design feature? Or maybe overdye it after a few washings?

------
Formerly sew*itch

Karla Kizer
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Karla Kizer  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/29/08 8:03 AM

Could the fabric be twisting into a long rope in the washer and dryer? That could let diagonal bands of it get more abrasion than other parts. Maybe next time, you could fold the length in half, inside out, and baste or pin the edges together to keep it inside out while you pretreat it.

------
“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” -Robert Heinlein and Ann's father. Thanks for the reminder, Ann.

Where are we going, and what am I doing in this handbasket?

Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'



Flying Seamstress
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Flying Seamstress  Friend of PR
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In reply to blue mooney


Date: 12/29/08 8:42 AM

My thoughts on denim exactly...I wear it everyday and am always on the lookout for variations from basic blue. And yes, I've prewashed and ruined denim and I don't think there is any 'real' way to know beforehand which fabrics will 'streak' or not. I always prewash (three times) using warm water and dry on very hot to get maximum shrinkage. If the denim doesn't survive the prewash treatment it's not worth sewing anyway. I used to baste the yardage selvage edges together before prewashing, but now I just serge the cut edges and toss it in the washer 'as is'. The most recent denim I purchased from JoAnn's was manufactured in Korea and the bolt care instructions said 'Dry Clean only'. Yep, thats gonna happen, right? LOL. So I did my usual prewash and the denim is absolutely wonderful! So you never know. I know this tidbit of information doesn't help you much, just wanted to let you know that You aren't doing anything wrong!

Gail

Sewliz
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Sewliz  Friend of PR
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In reply to blue mooney


Date: 12/29/08 11:44 AM

This happens to me too. With the most recent cut of denim I used the delicate cycle and a few times during the wash and rinses I lifted the piece to shake out the folds it has put itself in. Same with the dryer. That seemed to work. I think it is mostly the edges of the folds that end up bleeding the color more.

My washing machine has a front loader type mechanism but is a top loader (a Staber) that can be opened whenever I want during the cycle which helps. If your machine locks and holds your fabric prisoner for the entire wash then my suggestion is useless!

I have found that most denims bleed but the cheap stuff bleeds like crazy through many washes.

------
Liz

thefittinglife.blogspot.com

sewinggeek
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sewinggeek  Friend of PR
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In reply to blue mooney


Date: 12/29/08 3:56 PM

I have not done a lot of denim, but have done some and have not had this problem. I prewash my denim a bit more severely than you do. I prewash all denim in HOT water and dry on the hottest temp. That way no matter who does laundry the worst has already happened.

Patti

------
PattiH
Brother 4000D, Brother 650Q, Brother 1034D, Kenmore 117-841, Kenmore 158-1040, Franklin, Singers: 15-91, 66, 221

blue mooney
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blue mooney
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TX USA
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Date: 12/29/08 6:42 PM

I'm thinking this is an abrasion issue - so I'll give stitching up the sides a try next time I buy denim to see if that keeps it from twisting so much. But, dang! That might take an extra 5 minutes!I feel so virtuous that I'm taking time in construction press better. Now I have to take extra time for pretreating too? This is starting to sound like work!

------
--Robyn
sewing blog: http://bluemooney.wordpress.com/
illustration blog: http://storybooky.wordpress.com/

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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KS USA
Member since 12/13/08
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In reply to blue mooney


Date: 12/29/08 7:41 PM

This could be a total gimmick, but I pre-wash all my cottons with a product called Retayne. It's supposedly a dye fixative for quilters. In the "maybe not a gimmick" column, I haven't had anything come out streaky *or* bleed after I've used it, though, so who knows. Might be worth a try.

(That website, btw, is grossly over-pricing it. I just picked up a bottle at my quilt shop for $2.95.)

------
~Gem in the prairie

blue mooney
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blue mooney
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TX USA
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Date: 12/19/11 12:06 PM

After thinking about this for a few years, I'm thinking that some denims are specifically designed so that they will be sensitive to abrasion - all the easier for manufacturers to do all those special effects that are sometimes in style. And since we don't have that information when we buy, that's why it's a bit of a crap shoot.

Sound plausible?

------
--Robyn
sewing blog: http://bluemooney.wordpress.com/
illustration blog: http://storybooky.wordpress.com/

a7yrstitch
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a7yrstitch  Friend of PR
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In reply to blue mooney


Date: 12/19/11 1:49 PM

blue mooney,

The problem may be with the efficiency of our front loading machines. I seem to be okay with pre-washing my fabrics, but I do press the option button for heavy load.

When I tried the Calypso washing machine (which Sears exchanged out for the front loader), big pieces of fabric, sheets and blankets would billow up above the level of water that the machine was programmed to use for water conservation. There was no over ride for that so there would be telltale water/detergent marks in odd patterns that were left from the billowing effect that pushed some of the fabric up and away from the wash water.

Your front loader may be behaving the same as the Calypso. If you pre-wash your fabric by itself, it will perceive it as being a smaller load and will use less water.

You could try your initial soak in the sink (bummer). You could see if there is a combination of options that would pump more water into the cleaning cycle. You could do preliminary cutting of your fabric to make smaller pieces. If none of that works, you could use some sacrificial fabric to increase the volume and equalize the balance of your wash load.

Do you use detergent when you pre-wash. In the past, I did not. With the front loader I use a small amount of detergent. It is the carrying agent in the water and I think it is more critical in our newer water efficient machines.

Best wishes.

------
I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

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