Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Journey of Donna's Stars: A Finished Quilt with a Cautionary Tale

Today I share the bittersweet story of a finished quilt.
"Sweet" because it is finished.
The story of it's journey is a bit of a "Bitter" one for me though, due to a bleeding nightmare that resulted in the faded colors pictured above.

It all began in March 2014, with some of Donna's favorite batiks, pre-washed and cut into strips.
Blocks were completed and I posted layout options in June 2014.
So, it was 18 months in the quilting - different sections at a time and continuously interrupted by other projects while I made decisions about how to quilt different areas.
Look how pretty those colors were!
Here is where the nightmare began:
Once quilted, the quilt came out pretty square and flat. Because all the fabrics were pre-shrunk, I thought I would skip the tub-bath and blocking process I often use before I attach binding. I had set red fabric aside for the binding but it did not look pre-washed when i went to use it. I couldn't really recall, so I gave it a hand wash and the water turned bright red. I rinsed and washed three more times, and the water continued to turn red.
The reds were purchased in 2014 from my local quilt shop, just for this quilt.  
Top of the line (Bali's?)
I read, and read, whatever I could find online about saving quilts...

And then I went about dealing with it:
I purchased Synthrapol at the art supply store. My LSC does not stock it, nor do they provide any advice in dealing with bleeding fabrics, nor did they seem to care one bit about the fabric culprit I kindly reported to them, that is still shelved in their store...hmph...

It is advised online to use Synthrapol with hot water and as much water as possible. I started by using the product to wash the red binding fabric by hand and I was able to rinse it out with clear water results.
Encouraged, I took the quilt to the Suds Shop...
I wasn't sure if I should use fabric magnet sheets in combination with the Synthrapol, but I did, and I could see them turning color in the machine while it worked.
After holding my breath for 28 minutes, the background looked pretty white when I took it out.
I folded the damp sandwich in some muslin, and felt hopeful as I packed her into the car.
Once home, I blocked it out on linoleum flooring.
Unfortunately, it was only a couple hours before the dreaded dyes began bleeding through to the backside of the quilt. Pictured here while still damp, as the dye began to seep..
I thought maybe not all the Synthrapol had rinsed out, perhaps continuing to draw dye out as it dried.
A bit forlorn, yet I persevered:
Next, I attached the binding and finished it by hand.
Back at the laundromat, we shot a before picture. Most of the damage was directly behind the red fabrics. This photo only shows the bleeding to the back of the multi-colored star.
Plus two areas of red in the background, on the frontside. 
The Synthrapol wash was repeated, and the red spots were still there. I then resorted to a back up plan, a color-out product I had picked up at the grocery.
Following directions on the package, I gave her another wash and it did work to remove dye from the White Kona.
Once dry, it was ready for final inspection. I noticed the faded colors, but nothing doing. Finishing Donna's Stars was my December goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, as well on my Q4 list, and I was in a bit of a rush to package and ship, so it was a quick trip outside for photographs !
The random spots are gone and although a wee bit of dye is present on the back, the bleeding is far less noticeable overall.
 However, the fabrics do have quite a bit of fading.

Here is what I really want to share with you:
I think the fading could have been avoided.
Just last week, after washing my quilt, I found this great article by Vicki Welsh. I encourage you to click the button, read Vicki's advice, and save the article!

Vicki Welsh

 Donna's Stars
 A special quilt for my DMIL!

Celtic Thistle StitchesMy Button

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side


  1. Oh Heidi...my heart went out to you. So glad you got most of it our and I DID bookmark Vicki's page...thank you!!! Your quilt is gorgeous though!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. i visited Vicki`s page and added her button to my blog.

  3. Oh my, I'm so glad you didn't give up. Those stars are shining wonderfully on that white background thanks to your perseverance! The quilting on this is amazing. I love the stars in the white space. What a beautiful quilt. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Bummer, bummer, bummer on the bleeding!! I also bookmarked that page and hope to never have to use it.

    That said, the quilt is terrific. I love how you quilted it. The colors are still very pretty.

  5. I know you're disappointed in the fading, but I always try to tell myself I'm the only one who knows or will notice because I know it's there. To us your quilt is awesome. I looked at the photo when the blog post appeared and thought, "What a great quilt. I love the colors." Then I read the post. Without the post I'd never know about the faded colors. They look great to me.

  6. Excellent, excellent post! Very informative and noteworthy. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. It is a wonderful quilt despite all of the problems you had with it Heidi, as Paula says I am sure that you are the only one who will notice that the original colours have faded. Your LQS attitude to the problems was disappointing to say the least, I would have expected a bit more sympathy from fellow quilters!
    Thanks for linking up to Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew too :)

  8. I'm so sorry for all the trouble the bleeding fabric caused you! In spite of all the 'bitterness' this quilt really did turn out beautifully, if not quite what you planned.

  9. You know if I didn't read my way through this I wouldn't even notice the fading, It's a beautiful quilt, but what a pain for you to have done all that work and to have the bleeding occur, and then all that work to fix the problem. Thanks for sharing the link.

  10. I think the end result is still an amazing quilt that looks beautiful. It will be loved and appreciated as it is made for a special reason.
    I will go back now and read the link you refer to. Thanks for adding that one.

  11. It's still a beautiful quilt Heidi. It looks soft and well loved and your quilting is simply gorgeous! My gosh what a hard time you had saving it though. Thank you for sharing your steps and also the Save My Bleeding Quilt steps.
    Hope your Christmas is a peaceful and happy one!

  12. I am so glad you were able to get the bleeding out and even with the faded colors...it is beautiful!!! Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing!

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  14. Thank you for writing up your painful experience. I agree with other commenters who said that it is a beautiful quilt! I know it will take you a while to love it as it is, because in your mind it was supposed to have been brighter. But I hope that day comes soon, when you can see that your fabrics, piecing, and quilting still shine!

  15. Such a lovely quilt! So sad about the colours bleeding through! I am always nervous about using red for this reason.

  16. Oh my... what a fiasco. Thanks for sharing your process of dealing with this as well as the link to Vicki's blog. Your quilt is beautiful. What a lovely gift!

  17. Lovely quilt and I like your blog, I have a website where you can buy best product of quilt at best price in India, Please click here Shopping Online

  18. This is a gorgeous quilt! I haven't sewn too much with batiks but I can see where this would be a problem. Glad it worked out in the end. Visiting as part of the 2015 FAL Cheerleading Team. Thanks for participating.


Thank you for sharing your comments!

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