How to Perform a Bleed Test on Your Cotton Fabrics

Cotton fabric quilting, quilting fabric patterns, quilt shop fabric

A quilter should keep in mind the possibility of bleeding in some quilting cottons. This is important considering the negative impact such bleeding can have on the other fabrics that are in contact with it and most especially, it can form color patches on a finished quilt.

Bleeding is the transfer of the dye in a cotton fabric onto other materials that come in contact with it. It is a common occurrence in cotton fabrics that have vivid color dyes like red and purple. In all fairness not all fabrics with vivid color do bleed.

Those cotton fabrics produced by companies that cater to the needs of quilters rarely bleed. Yet, to be on the safer side, it is better to be very sure that these specially made cotton fabrics do not bleed before making use of them in prewashing. How can that be done, you may ask? It is done by performing what is referred to as bleeding test as described below.

• Soak the cotton fabric to be tested for bleeding in adequate soapy water.
• Allow the fabric to remain soaked in the soapy water for up to thirty minutes, after which you should check to see if the water is discolored or not. The fabric can be said to bleed if the water becomes discolored by the color of the dye on the fabric.
• You can give the fabric under testing a second chance by re-soaking it in soapy water for another thirty minutes stretch.
• If this discoloration persists after the said time, then you will need to forget about using this particular fabric in prewashing because it will definitely cause damage to other fabrics.
• In case the soapy water in step two above remains uncolored by the dye on the cotton fabric, don’t think all is well yet. You will need to check further to see whether the dye on the fabric is capable of staining other fabrics with which it comes in contact with.
• Remove the cotton fabric from the clear soapy water without rinsing it and place it on a clean white towel.
• Allow the cotton fabric to remain in contact with the white towel for a while. Then check to see if the dye on the fabric had been transferred onto the white towel.

If the white towel is stained, then you can be quite sure that the cotton fabric will stain other materials with which it comes in contact with.

In case the quilter still insist on using such material then it is better to make use of a commercial dye fixative, this prevents the dye on the cotton fabric from staining other materials with which the fabric comes in contact.