Some quilters pre-wash all their fabrics before using them in a quilt – others do not. Similarly some individuals insist on pre-washing their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and some dislike pre-washing. (Personally I do not pre-wash dishes that are going into a dishwasher, but I do pre-wash fabric before it goes into my stash!)
Concerning me mostly is color transfer of the fabrics used in the quilt. Nowadays most of colors do not run but red and dark blue can sometimes cause a problem. Using color catcher sheets when washing a finished quilt for the first time is always a good insurance policy.
While some quilters like the resulting shrinkage and puckers that result after a finished quilt (that has been assembled from unwashed yardage) is washed, I think that the puckers detract from the overall beauty of the quilt. Others believe that they make the quilt more antique-like. Definitely personal preference.
My personal choice is to wash all fabric before storing or using it in a quilt. Treating the fabric with chemicals during the manufacturing process leaves a finish on it that I’d don’t like. In addition even after washing yardage or precuts, I do not iron the fabric but just fold it for storage and iron when I need it. The pieces have to be ironed before use anyways to remove fold lines. Ironing them twice doesn’t make sense! Normally I wash yardage in the machine and soak fat quarters or other precuts. Then dry them both in the dryer.
So I guess the answer is – it’s your personal choice. The popular quilting website, Bluprint agrees that it depends on you alone.
There are no ‘quilt police.There is always time to quilt!