A bleeding fabric is a fabric that loses its dye when washed, this is bad because if you put it in with other fabrics that you intend to quilt with the dye will damage them. Therefore when you buy a new fabric it is very important to carry out the fabric bleed test.
The usual suspects
If you are familiar with fabrics then I think it’s safe to assume that you know the usual suspects here are vividly colored fabric such as purples and reds, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that only purple and red fabrics bleed. Bleeding can occur with any type of fabric that’s why the test is very important.
How to perform the test
The first thing to do is to submerge the fabric into soapy water, there is no need to use special soap here just use what you normally use. Let the fabric sit in the soapy water for a while, anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes should be okay.
If the fabric bleeds the water will change color, if this happens then its best not use the fabric because if you use it with other fabrics the dye will damage them.
The test doesn’t stop there; in some cases the bleeding may not be that heavy but it still can affect adjacent fabrics. To avoid this, when you remove the fabric from soapy water that doesn’t show signs of bleeding, you should place a white paper towel on it and leave it there for a few minutes.
If the fabric bleeds the paper towel will be affected, if it doesn’t then you have a fabric that you can use to quilt.
You can redo the process until the bleeding stops, if it doesn’t stop after several washes then don’t use the fabric.
If you feel that you must use the fabric, you can purchase products like Synthrapol which is used to prevent bleeding fabrics from staining other fabrics. Note that, it is not a guarantee that products like Synthrapol, safe bleach or Oxi-clean which are products that claim to prevent bleeding will work. Therefore it helps to do the test before you make the quilt and learn to read the label on a product before you use it.
Simply put, when you buy a fabric the first thing you should do before you start quilting is the fabric bleed test, if you don’t do it you may ruin all your other fabrics and have start all over again.
Generally, the idea is to avoid fabrics that are known to bleed. The most common fabrics that bleed are hand dyed fabrics, batiks and fabrics dyed with inferior dye. A good way to avoid such fabrics is to ask or to look at the label on the fabric.
As a consequence of all this, learn how to select fabrics and go for quality fabrics, look at it this way, it is better to be sure that a fabric wont ruin your quilt after spending hours or days working on it.