How to Do a Fabric Bleed Test
- Submerge a small piece of a fabric in soapy water -- a 2-inch square is fine. Use the same soap and water temperature you normally use to wash fabrics and quilts.
- Let the fabric sit in the soapy solution for about 30 minutes, then check to see if the water is discolored. If it is, the fabric bleeds and the dyes could potentially damage other fabrics.
- If the water is clear, try one more thing to make sure the dyes won't transfer onto adjacent fabrics when wet. Remove the patch and, without rinsing, place it on a white paper towel. Wait a bit and check to see if dye has transferred onto the toweling. If it did, chances are good that it will transfer dye onto adjacent patches when your quilt is washed.
- Rinse out the soap and dry your test patch, then perform the bleed test again. If bleeding continues, do not use the fabric in your quilts.
If you can't bear not to use a fabric that bleeds or transfers, purchase a commercial dye fixative, such as Retayne, to help make the dyes more permanent. Treat a snip of fabric, following the instructions carefully, then try the bleed test again.
Most fabrics produced by companies that cater to quilters do not bleed, but it's a good idea to do a bleed test on all vivid fabrics until you have a good understanding of which fabrics you can trust.