The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting Basics 1: How to Prewash and Cut Fabric

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Quilting Basics 1: How to Prewash and Cut Fabric

To get our new Machine Quilting Block Party started on the right foot I've created a new series of Quilting Basics video tutorials. This series of videos will guide you through all the basics of quilting and answer a lot of your questions as you're just getting started.

To begin, let's learn more about fabric preparation and cutting. This is one of the most important steps to creating a quilt because it set the foundation for everything to come and every step will be easier if your fabric is prepared properly.

Watch the video to learn how I prewash, starch, square and cut fabric for quilting:

Do you want to test your fabric cutting skills? Click Here to find the pattern for Block #1 and learn how to cut and piece a Blooming Nine Patch quilt block!

Click Here to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

I know prewashing and starching fabric is not everyone's favorite first step to quilting. It's a bit of a hassle, especially when you're in a hurry to get started cutting out the pieces for your quilt.

But it's also the only way you can guarantee your fabric colors won't bleed into one another after creating your quilt. Trust me, it's absolutely crushing to see fabrics bleeding into one another after taking all the time to make a quilt.

Now for cutting - I've received a lot of questions about this from quilters starting on Block 1. Make sure to watch the video to see how to cut your block from strips. I created a mock up cutting diagram so you can see how I read it and use it to cut the strips and then sub-cut other units.

Cutting from strips is always easier to manage and it will keep your fabric nice and tidy throughout the quilting process.

What do you think of fabric preparation? Have you ever prewashed your fabric before or is it a new thing for you? Do you like to starch fabric? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Leah, I'm curious as to your opinion of adding the liquid starch in the rinse cycle in the washing machine - would this help? Then iron the fabric dry, not in the dryer.

    1. I've never tried worry is the already wet fabric would significantly dilute the starch. It's worth a try if you're curious. Let me know how it goes!

  2. have taken classes from Bernina dealer for 7 years. Actually learned more reading instructions and watching these videos.
    Now I understand quilting skills much, much better. Thank you.

  3. Before I "met" you, I never pre-washed or prepared fabric with starch. I am never going to piece again without starch! Everything lines up in my blocks with starched fabric. And I open my seams now... Best teacher ever! I look back at my original you tube teachers with dismay. Why don't they share these secrets with us? Thanks Leah for wanting us to be as successful as you!

    1. Thank you so much Jennifer! Every teacher is different and has their own style. Personally I always teach the way I really do something. Sometimes that makes it take longer and adds a few extra steps, but I think it's worth it to get such great results with every block every time. I'm so glad you appreciate that about our videos!

  4. I was taught to spray starch fabric prior to cutting and NOT to wash fabric first. Tried to find out why not wash and research only told me that washing or not washing was a personal choice. In 2016 I followed your instructions to pre-wash and press and began using the Niagra starch instead of the canned spray starch. It is a pain in prep but I really like the results and will continue to follow your method. I am just now starting to do block one of the 2017 BOM. My goal is to finish by the end of December this year!

    1. Yes, prewashing is 100% personal preference, just like starching and pressing seams open. Everyone does this a little differently, but I always wash my fabric because I've been burned with bleeding dyes too many times. I never want to go through that again!


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