To Wash or Not to Wash
Until several years ago, I was of the mindset there is no need to wash. I don't typically use really dark colored fabrics, so I didn't worry about bleeding. I had noticed every time I sewed, my eyes were watering. I thought it was possibly just allergies. I hadn't linked it to quilting, until I broke my thumb. I wasn't able to sew for many months and during that time, I had no problems. Also, my hands were silky soft. I do have eczema and tend to get dry hands, so I didn't link the chapped hands to fabric.
When I was able to get back into the sewing room, once again my eyes were watering and I was sneezing like crazy. My initial thought was the fabric starch was causing irritation... nope. Changing to Best Press didn't make a difference, except for the fact I learned it is wonderful! Next batch of fabric I decided to pre-wash. No more watery eyes and my hands weren't burning anymore after sewing. I was really curious as to why this made such a difference. I found out how many dangerous chemicals are used to make our fabric beautiful! After researching, I decided I was going to wash every single piece of fabric that comes into my home before I use it. I eventually started putting it in the wash before it entered my sewing area. If it goes to the wash first, I won't be tempted to use it.
A tip to help it ravel not so much is to put your fabrics in with other clothing. When I started doing that, it cut down the ravel. Regardless of quality of fabric, it will fray. That's just a fact. I now purchase a quarter yard more, knowing I will cut away a little of it. I don't regret spending those few extra dollars for a healthier quilting life.
Here's an interesting video of the fabric process:
The following articles are basic, to the point, no fluff about what is in our fabrics.