It looks so innocent, doesn't it? After my last fiasco with Benjamin Biggs block 5 that sent me into an 8 month sulk I finished block 6 with more than a little anxiety. I thought perhaps that leaving block 5 to soak for about an hour (I got distracted, it happens) might have exacerbated the bleeding from the reds whether it was the fabric or the threads. So, this time I whipped the block out of the water as soon as I was sure the blue markings were gone. I squeezed the excess water out and began pressing. This is what I saw...
Yes, that's what I saw. I won't tell you what I said. It wasn't nice. These are different reds than block 5 - a solid, probably Kona, and pre-washed. I literally watched the color just ooze right into the white fabric. There is a halo on the front but not as bad as the last block. Seeing how the lines show up from the gathers of the fabric makes me think that it's not the thread's fault here. But, there is a mystery.
I had already started block 6 when I washed block 5 and was traumatized by the color bleed. All but two of the red berries were sewn down. I only have two of the plastic templates so I make them two at a time. Being an instant gratification kind of gal I need to sew them down right away so I can then hold the block up and gaze at the cute little circles for awhile. (you are probably starting to get an idea of why I am so slow at appliqueing these blocks). I starched all but the last two circles which remained gathered and squeezed together inside my needle book. [Ooooh, that's where they were - it did take awhile to find what I had done with them.] Anyway, they were nicely creased and I didn't see a need for an iron, much less starch for these two. Those are the ones in the picture above - left and center. The right one was sewn 8 months ago and had been starched. So, my questions are:
- Is it the fabric that bled? The same fabric is used in all three circles.
- Is there some weird chemical thing that happens because of the starch. The two "clean" circles had no starch.
- Is it the thread? The tiny bit of bleeding on the "clean" circles is at the edges where the thread is. It is the same thread used in all circles.
I am now completely paranoid about red fabric. When pre-washing the fabrics for block 7 I stitched a piece of the red to my background fabric and used a color catcher in the wash load. The sample at the top is what happened. Ack!! Now, this was the first wash so I gave the fabric a second chance and stitched another (post-wash) piece to the back ground fabric. The bottom sample is the result. Better, much better. But, blocks 5 and 6 were made with pre-washed red fabric and they still bled. I almost dropped everything - again - but am holding onto the hope that the bleeding has finished for this piece of fabric.
Here is the full shot of the back. Fortunately, the bleeding is worse from the back than the front. I took a class with Mimi Dietrich 16 years ago and she told us to dry our block face down because water evaporates up. That way, the bleeding will go into the background. Seems she's right.
P.S. The color catcher came out hot pink.
P.P.S. The thread hasn't been ruled out as a suspect yet.