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June 1, 2013

My first collection of batik fabrics will be available this summer.
OK, I can finally let you in on a big secret that we first shared at Quilt Market last month:

My first collection of batik fabrics will be released this summer!

There are 46 different fabrics that shade in three different colorways. I've created two quilts, a tote bag and a table runner, all featuring the batiks. Even better, to save you lots of time, three of those projects use pre-cut 2" strips (which we call Pixie Strips.)

Look in upcoming newsletters for more information on the projects and the fabrics, which will be available by the yard, in fat quarters, Pixie Strips and more!

I'm taking a slightly different approach to this month's newsletter: we're going back to basics. I am frequently asked about whether I wash my quilts, and the Studio gets lots of questions about pre-washing fabric.  So read on to learn about my personal preferences and some approaches you might want to consider.

And we've got Block #5 in this year's BOM quilt, Solstice!

Documenting Quilts in the Digital Age
Next month I'll be spending some time at a one-day educational conference called Not Fade Away: Sharing Quilt Stories in the Digital Age Presented by the nonprofit Quilt Alliance, it's an excellent event for everyone who cares about documenting, preserving and sharing the stories of quilts and their makers.

During the demonstration portion of the event, I will be interviewed for the Quilters' Save Our Stories project by Luana Rubin, veteran quilt designer, writer and entrepreneur.

Workshops will share techniques and strategies for documenting and sharing quilts using digital technologies and social media. And registrants will also get free admission to Sacred Threads, an international exhibition of quilts exploring themes of spirituality, joy, inspiration, peace/brotherhood, grief and healing. 
The conference will be held just a few miles from my shop, on Saturday, July 20 at Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. For more information, visit the link below. 
More on Not Fade Away.

Playing with Venetian Marble Fabrics
The Venetian Diamonds mini-pattern is a free download -- only from this email!
My Venetian Marble collection has struck a chord with the Studio elves as they have several quilts in the works.  I've also been playing with the fabrics and came up with this simple foundation-pieced design.

The mini-pattern for Venetian Diamonds is free for you to download -- only from this email. The quilt finishes 81" x 90" so it's perfect for your full or queen bed! If you'd like to make the quilt, order the fabric following the yardage requirements in the mini-pattern.  Enjoy!

Pre-Washing Your Quilting Fabric -- Or Not!
Do you pre-wash your quilting fabric?

That is one of the most common questions I'm asked by quilters all over the world. My answer:  I don't pre-wash, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

So, let's talk a little about pre-washing.

Fabric manufacturers almost universally recommend pre-washing. Washing your fabrics before using can remove excess dye (the thing that quilters most care about) as well as chemicals used in processing. Washing and drying may also shrink up the fabric a little so you don't have to worry about uneven shrinkage after you've made your quilt. (Folks who like an "antique" look to their quilts often embrace that shrinkage.)

I only use fabric that I design in my quilts, and they are made by RJR Fabrics. RJR includes basic care instructions on the end of every fabric bolt, and they also include a lengthier care note shrink-wrapped with each bolt of fabric. Recently we noticed that the note had changed to include more detailed laundering instructions, as well as instructions for washing pre-cuts. (Read the complete pre-washing instructions here.)

The new instructions recommend pre-soaking dark fabrics in cold water for 30 minutes before laundering. A quick survey of my staff showed six pre-wash, four don't and two sometimes do and sometimes don't . . . but no one was pre-soaking! So we decided to do a little test.

We took two sets of fat quarters from my Corsica collection. One set was washed in cold water in a top-loading machine, and the other was washed in cold water in a front loader. A piece of white fabric was included in each load to see if we could detect any dye transfer.

The results:  the laundered samples are ever-so-slightly tinted, but it's so close, we don't think you'd ever be able to tell. (We took some photos but the photos don't really show anything!)

Another staffer washed her fat quarters in cold water in her front loader and used several sheets that are designed to capture loose dye in laundry loads. Those "dye catchers" definitely ended up colored. That leads us to believe that loose dye is being released but that it is not necessarily going to be absorbed by other fabrics in the load.

Our interest in this whole subject was re-kindled because a group of Studio staffers are working on red and white quilts. Red fabrics have a reputation as bleeders so the group required that all fabric be pre-washed before they traded blocks. Unfortunately, even after pre-washing, the group has discovered that some red fabrics have still transferred dye to the white in their quilts. Our advice: no matter what your pre-washing preference, take extra care when working with high-contrast fabrics! You might also want to investigate products such as Retayne (used to "fix" dye to fabrics before they are used in a quilt) and Synthrapol (used to keep loose dye suspended in the wash water so it doesn't stain other fabric in the load or on the quilt.) Those products are widely available online.

So what do I recommend? Be informed. Use first quality quilting cottons. Perhaps do your own mini-tests. And take extra care when working with very high-contrast fabrics!

SolsticeSolstice Compass Block #5

This month's block design puts fussy cut compass points front and center. The rest of the points can be foundation pieced if you choose.

If you missed last month's information, don't worry! The download page includes all the materials released so far.
[Link Available in Email Only] 

Kit Alert! Solstice Kits are available in three colorways, but one -- the purple/orange -- is seriously endangered with only a few kits left. If you've been waiting to order, now is the time to act!
More info on Solstice Kits.

We've also created beautiful fat quarter bundles of the fabrics used in the three Solstice colorways. If you love the colors in the quilt and would like to use them in a different project, this is the choice for you.
Solstice Inspiration Bundles

Happy Quilting!
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