Monday, February 12, 2018

Should I Prewash My Red Threads?

Recently someone on the ANG email list asked if they should pre-wash their red silk thread with cold water and vinegar to keep them from running.  Two finishers answered their question and very kindly agreed to repeat their advice here—


This is from Margi at Sandy's Finishing Touches:

Test all threads before stitching. Just cut a 6-12inch length off the skein of thread and swish in cool water. You will have color release if the thread is not color fast. If the thread bleeds I recommend flushing out the excess dye just to be sure before setting any threads with a vinegar rinse. If the thread does not bleed check for color transfer by blotting with a white cloth or paper towel. If you have color transfer I wouldn’t stitch on a project that would run the risk of coming in contact with any liquids. Just projects to be framed or ornaments.

As a finisher who has blocked hundreds of needlepoint items each year for over 30 years I have experienced a variety of threads that bleed. Red is not the number one color to bleed. Green and Burgundy threads are more problematic than red threads. Certain overdyed thread manufacturers jewel toned threads bleed the worst. I personally will not stitch with any overdyed threads without testing for color fastness first. I have had red thread run orange and brown thread run red. I even had a black thread run for the first time in 2017.  Silk threads are no more likely to bleed than other thread type so test all threads.

Pat Mazu, finisher and author of Finishing 101, added:

I really agree with that advice! I have often found that the deep colored metallics and the overdyed deep color metallics are often problems as well. Navy blue, burgundy, and forest green can be real problems in any thread (even embroidery floss/stranded cotton) or yarn. Some threads or yarns are also color fast to dry cleaning and not to water, as well.

Before beginning to stitch, think about the final purpose of your piece and test your threads/yarns if it is something that will be used and may eventually require cleaning, such as a pillow. Then, always use a frame and have clean hands when stitching. Those two steps will modify the need for cleaning and blocking the completed piece.


Thank you both very much for your help!  I've added links to Margi's company and Pat's book for those who are interested.

 Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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