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Quilting FAQ

Should I pre-wash all my fabrics before piecing my quilt top?

That is a matter of personal preference. Some believe that pre-washing is essential to pre-shrink and  prevent dyes and inks in the fabrics from bleeding and migrating onto each other. Others like to work with unwashed fabrics as the sizing manufacturers use on the fabrics keep them more stable and easier to work with. Quilt shop quality fabrics generally have minor color bleeding and minimal shrinkage. We do recommend pre-washing commercial and some artisan hand dyes especially if recommended by the maker. The Creative Art Textiles hand dyes that we carry at the shop have been rinsed and washed until they are colorfast.

If you are using a high contrast color palette, such as red and white, it is a good idea to pre-wash fabrics for insurance. For pre-washing fabrics we recommend using Quilt Soap (also known as Orvus Paste), Synthrapol, or Dawn (original blue formula) and to also add several Color Catcher sheets (found wherever laundry products are sold) to the wash water.

Help, I washed my finished quilt and the fabrics bled! What do I do now?

If the quilt has been machine dried, the color may be set but it’s worth a try to wash again. Our best advice is to immediately wash the quilt again using Synthrapol or Dawn (original blue formula) and also add several Color Catcher sheets (found wherever laundry products are sold) to the wash water. After the spin cycle, take the quilt out immediately and inspect it thoroughly to make sure that the migrated color is gone. If the Color Catchers come out with dark, saturated color it may be best to wash the quilt again, as above. Air dry the quilt flat on a line or rack.

How do I clean and care for an antique, heirloom, or vintage quilt? 

Please refer to this comprehensive document from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

How much is my quilt worth? Where do I get it appraised?

If you made a quilt or own an heirloom quilt and want to know its insurance and/or market value, we recommend getting it professionally appraised. 

Here is the contact information for two Wisconsin appraisers who are certified by AQS and PAAQT:

Contact the appraiser of your choice to make arrangements for an appointment. Many large quilt shows, (such as The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show that takes place in Madison every September), will have appraisers on-site to do appraisals by appointment. The current cost for an appraisal is approximately $55 and you will typically receive a professionally written document for each quilt appraised. Information regarding your appraisal is held in trust between you and your appraiser. A separate appraisal is needed for each quilt that you wish to have appraised and the average appraisal will take approximately 30 minutes per item. 

Where is the best place to donate unwanted fabric and sewing supplies? 

The non-profit organization, Textile Arts Center of Madison, collects any and all items related to fiber arts and needlecraft, including materials, tools, patterns, books, and equipment. Please refer to this linked document for donation guidelines and email to arrange for donation pick-up or delivery. For more information about the resources this organization provides, please visit their website, 

Another charitable organization we recommend donating to is RSVP of Dane County for their group projects program. Their volunteers make and distribute many different clothing, bedding, warm outerwear, childcare, and eldercare items to non-profit and first responder organizations throughout Dane County, Wisconsin. They also accept yarn and knit/crochet supplies.

If the fabrics are specifically appropriate for children's quilts we also recommend donating to Project Linus which has local and nationwide chapters. FYI-our shop is a drop-off location for donating finished quilts and blankets for Project Linus.

If you have vintage textiles and items such as bedding, doilies, lace, embroidery, needlepoint, or table linens that you don’t want but can’t bear to throw away, we recommend donating them to St. Vinny’s as the Madison area stores will often have curated sales events featuring these items.

Where can I sell my vintage & antique quilts/sewing machine/stash fabric/inherited sewing & fiber arts paraphernalia?

Our suggested place to list and sell such items in your local area would be Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If you are willing to ship, eBay is an option as well.

If you think your vintage items may be valuable, you can try contacting an antiques or collectables appraiser to see if there is a market for your items. The condition of antique sewing machines, textiles and the like plus documented provenance on the item (owner’s or maker’s name, proof of age, story behind the making or procurement of the item) will add value if that particular type of item is a hot seller. Antiques and vintage items don’t have value unless many collectors actually want them, a popular current market for your items is what creates value.

If you are a member of a quilt guild, you could ask if they have a market day when members can sell their sewing and quilting stash, notions & machines to other members.

(608) 284-9299
6333 University Avenue
Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
In-Store & Curbside Pickup Shopping Hours:
Mon, Wed, Fri 10 AM - 5 PM
Tue, Thu 10 AM - 6 PM
Saturday 10 AM - 4 PM
Sunday Noon - 4 PM;
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