The Road Less Traveled

Nope, I am not happy; and I really am not happy to be writing this post.  Those that saw my post on Friday read about my 48 month project.  The infamous quilt that has been in the making for way too long.   After my post I was inspired to do some marking and wanted to remove them to see what the design would look like.  The result has me in tears.

Did I prewash the fabric? Of course.  Am I sick to my stomach? The thought of fabric is making me nausea.  Have I cursed myself inside and out?  A million times over.  Were tears shed? Let’s just say I do need to re-stock on tissues.

Just the other day while I was finally motivated to tackle this quilt a friend of mine imparted this thought.  She said that maybe this quilt has already provided me with its lesson; she continued by stating that maybe it’s time to let it go and give the top away which would allow me to move on.  Her words held some truth to them, as I now believe that this quilt has something unique in store for me.


I have learned many lessons from this quilting disaster.  Here are just a couple:

Lesson #1

Hand dyed fabric wash repeat, wash, repeat UNTIL the color catchers come out the same color they went in as.  What color is that? White!

Lesson #2

The ability to salvage this quilt remains uncertain.  But rather than allowing my feelings of regret and frustration take over which would normally have me tossing this project aside indefinitely; I have chosen to go move forward and finish what I have started.  This UFO is taking me into uncharted territory. Will it ever be show worthy? Again, only time will tell.

If you are interested in joining me on this journey, then stay tuned.  I plan on keeping my readers abreast of where this new road takes me. It will definitely include the good, the bad and the ugly.   But I have a strange feeling that this quilt will be providing me with several quilting and life lessons that I will be more than happy to share with my fellow quilters.  And in the end together we will all see where this project ends up, maybe it’s in a show, or maybe we will find it in the classroom.




50 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. Oh, Lisa, how heartbreaking! I’m glad you will finish it. It may eventually come out later. I know there are many ways to remove this, and am hopeful you will be able to. Good luck!

    • I had a piece of fabric that had been bled on when I prewashed some. I did the hot water with Dawn wash and it all came out.

  2. So sorry to see that your fabric bled! Have you heard of a fabric dyer named Vicki Welsh? She has had a quilt do a similar run and she managed to salvage it. I realize you are in the middle of quilting, so you could try her method once the quilting is complete.

    I don’t prewash my fabrics, but I do always soak the completed quilt and get that excess dye out. Here’s a link to her new blog and her test of several different methods of stabilizing dyes in fabrics:

    From reading her blogs, I don’t trust color catchers. Nothing except a hot-water soak (completely submerged) with Dawn liquid soap will convince me that the bleeding is under control, and in the future, I can toss it in the washing machine with no worries.

  3. My heart aches for you….so sorry! But I admire you for continuing on and knowing something positive will come of this. But still…sniff sniff.

  4. when the quilt is finished, wash in hot water with synthropol until the bleed comes out. Not
    retayne! This has worked for me.
    Kathy Carney

  5. Hi Lisa, I want to share a story with you. Years ago when I first began quilting free motion and my daughter and small 2 year old grand daughter were living with us after she had left her abusive husband I made a quilt for one of the twin beds in her room. It was an Ohio Star quilt, white background with the deep blue Ohio Stars. I worked very hard on that quilt and did loads of free motion stitching and was very proud of it. At the time I was working in ICU 12 hour night shifts and came home one fine morning to find that while my husband was “watching” our grand daughter, she had taken a Bic blue ink pen and decided it would be great fun to scribble on loads of the white background. I’m not talking a little scribbling, I’m talking it must have been a long time of my husband paying no attention to the quiet child. Well I nearly exploded when I discovered this. It was a blessing that I was alone and my grand daughter was not here. I decided to plung the whole half of the qilt she had written allover into a bucket of water loaded and I mean loaded with dry Oxi-Clean. There was so much in the bucket that the thing just bubbled and I left it there in the tub until the next day thinking it couldn’t get any worse than what it was with all the ink scribbled all over it. When I came home from work the next day and had calmed myself down I pulled it out of the bucket and tossed it in the washing machine and than the dryer and believe it or not , every bit of the ink Bic pen scribbling was gone and it was snow white and the blue Ohio stars were just as pretty as before this had all happened. So moral of the story is…… keep going, I’m betting that it all will come out in the end. My little grand daughter is now 16 years old and I gifted her with that very quilt on her birthday, and told her the story of the Ohio Star quilt and how it came to be hers after all. Bonnie

    • What a beautiful and encouraging story! Thank you for sharing. I’m a relatively new quilter and, altho I have not had this specific problem (yet!) I have at times hesitated to move forward out of fear of making a mistake. (Rediculous! I know!). JN

  6. Lisa, I actually did this to a customer’s quilt, I was soooo upset…but I did get it fixed – synthrapol hand washing and air drying did it! It was truly a miracle that it came out…it can be done….my quilt was proof! I will be thinking about you…..

  7. Oh my goodness gracious! I’m glad to see you are continuing forward because I’ll bet a solution comes along…it will come out using some process, or, you will figure out how to cover it, or some such. Hugs.

  8. It is heart breaking to have something like this happen to yourself and almost as much so when it happens to a fellow quilter! My thoughts are with you.

  9. Several years ago I had a similar incident with a commercial black fabric. Spritzed it to get rid of marks, went to bed got up the next morning it had run so badly that there was black on the white backing too. Once I stopped saying bad words I figured the only way I could retrieve it was to wash the whole thing. So it went into the bath with a lot of cold water and colour catchers, then into the machine and it all went. Yours may be retrievable, don’t give up yet. Good luck.

  10. 10 years ago my sister, a prolific quilter, passed away. She left behind several quilt tops. At the time although I had tried quilting I wasn’t a quilter. I decided I would finish these tops. So I began with a red, white and blue baby quilt, learned to hand quilt, and took many hours to quilt and finish it. When I washed it all the red bled into the white. I was devastated. I took it to a quilt shop and the owner was very sympathetic. She suggested I had nothing to lose if I tried washing it in synthropol. After two washes all the red was gone. I was so happy. Now of course I’m an ardent quilter, making and quilting my own quilts and dyeing my own fabric.
    Lisa, you are such an inspiration. I hope you are able to finish this quilt, that the boo boo is able to be removed and that the quilt becomes a winner!

  11. A friend says she hsd luck using Sew Clean and blotting with a white towel. I also had luck with ao red and green applique quilt bleeding. That one I washed it several more tomes with a Shout clother and it eventally came out.

  12. Omg. I think Vicki Welsh’s tutorial would be what I’d try first. Reach out to her on her blog. I’ve done it, albeit on her much less stressful scale as her instructions removed all of the excess dye.

  13. I have experienced this! I rubbed Dawn dish detergent directly onto those spots….soaked and did it again. I was able to salvage it but they were THE WORST 2 days of my quilting life!

  14. Oh Lisa……I have tears and can imagine how you are feeling because you do everything from your heart! I am so sorry. I’m giving you a virtual hug and permission to just cry till you’re done! I’m hear to listen, hold or rock you, really. Now the tough part…..I know this has happened before to a couple of your quilts. So, {{sigh}} let’s look at “why” the universe keeps trying this challenging with you!!? Is the universe looking to you to try something new for you? Derwent inktense colored pencils to embellish your amazingly talents??? OR is this one of those happy accidents that catapults you into creating a new product?? I don’t know for sure what This all means however, I do know you never let anyone or anything get the best of you, big or small!! Your courage is bigger than anyone I know personally and know you will persevere until you find away to make these bleeding fabrics surcome to the Lisa Calle Way! I love you girl and I believe in you, always. If I had a magic wand…I would definitely give you mine!!!!!

  15. I had the same experience with a red and white quilt which I had spent weeks quilting. After some tears, I soaked it in a bath of cold water with synthrapol. Repeated this three times, and the red came out in all but one of the whites (I had about 20-30 white on whites, light prints, etc), the one had a slight pink tinge that looked ok in the end.
    Be brave, with luck it will come good!

  16. i havea rescued quilts worse than this using syntrapol and then retayne. sick yes….but worth effort….
    it can be done!

  17. Absolutely heartbreaking! I know we are all being taught lessons through this painful event with you, but I sure hope you are able to continue with your original plans for this beautiful quilt! Wherever it ends up, it will be another step on the learning ladder for many!!! I love how your response (after the tears) is so positive, exactly what I would expect from such a positive person!!!

  18. Dear Lisa, So sorry you are dealing with this problem. It is very frustrating, I know. But, let me share some of my good news with you. I purchased your QuiltersGrove Pro Line 2 along with a few other of your tools when I took your class in 2015 at IQF-Houston. Well, I was afraid of it and only pulled it out a year later when doing a show quilt for a dear friend. Well, it was the easiest tool to use ever. I watched your video again, took a deep breath and started in. Not only did it work wonderfully, the quilt took a Second Place in its group at the show! So you are still doing wonderful things. Thought you should know. Hugs of thanks. Mona

  19. Hi Lisa! Margaret Solomon Gunn wrote an excellent article on how to salvage quilts that have bled. It was in a past issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited. I used her method and it saved my quilt. Please check it out!! Blessings, Lin Squires Sent from to salvage my iPhone


  20. Lisa, Jamie from Quilter’s Apothocary turned me on the using Dawn dish soap for bleeding quilts. I have only had to use it once. Fill up your washing machine, add Dawn, and let it soak. I used my color catcher as well in the soak. My bleeder was blue and it survived really well. It’s worth a try.

  21. Tears? I’d have been flooding the house! I hope you can find a way to salvage the quilt — it’s gorgeous, other than that one “little” problem.

  22. Lisa I know that sometimes when making a quilt we seem to have this love hate relationship with the quilt but for some reason when the quilt is finished these are some of our best quilts. Probably because of the challenges. You are an amazing, talented quilter and you find time to share the good and the bad times with us which is truly inspirational. You will overcome, this quilt is not a WOMBAT (waste of money brains and time) as we say here in Oz. It is magnificent and I am sure you will mop up those tears, find the way that works for you to get out the color run and get on with it. Cos that is what you do. That quilt has been on the back burner too long it is time for you to bite the bullet and finish it! Pep talk over get out there and WIN!!

  23. Borax has also cleaned heirloom smocked clothing that was in storage and had spit up stains (? Even though I had washed before storing) that evolved from years of storage and heat from attic. A good friend of mine took the garment, soaked it in cold water, then made a paste of Borax and water and let it sit on the stain. Washed and repeated and the stains are gone!!!! Hope yours comes clean, if not….you have a great attitude!

  24. Oh Courageous Leader…. My heart goes out to you! Just as others have commented …I have no doubt that you will somehow overcome! Thank you for sharing and allowing us to see how you Press On!

  25. What I have learned:

    We are not perfect; perfect people are SO BORING!
    Set it aside and walk way. Do not throw it away. Just walk away. I find if I come back to a project with a fresh mind it becomes manageable or even so easily fixable!

  26. That is frustrating but finish the quilt. Then hand sew catchers directly to those areas and wash again. There has been success in this!

  27. I had a quilt on a frame that was an entirely hand pieced drunkards path queen sized quilt. When I moved, I rolled it up, wrapped it in a tapestry cloth and stored it behind my couch on the floor for safe keeping. When the basement flooded the navy from the cover went into the yellow of the quilt. I washed it in the bathtub, hung it to dry to no avail. When it was dry, I rolled it up and stuffed it in a closet. Two years later, when I was selling the house I took the quilt out to fold it and the stains were gone. The product is called Z’out. It also takes grease out of ski jackets from skiing chair lifts but not right away, same as the dye in the quilt. there are other products out there now I’m sure. Good luck!

  28. Okay. Take a deep breath and breathe. I had something similar happen with a flood and Baltimore album blocks. Rewash with a colour catcher. If no dye comes out dry. Get a box of q-tips and bleach. Treat each stain individually until stains are removed. Now Rewash your quilt with a chlorine remover. They sell them for fish tanks.
    Good luck.

  29. How heartbreaking!!!!! Praying one of the tricks above works and that we can read of this beautiful quilt’s rescue soon!

  30. Lisa, this is still a beautiful quilt. Your story inspires me to continue with my own UFO–a complicated pattern well above my skills. I love your blog!

  31. So sorry your fabulous quilt bleed. Hoping you find a fix. Keep the faith and good luck.

    On Mon, May 22, 2017 at 2:01 PM, Lisa H Calle’s Blog wrote:

    > lisahcalle posted: ” Nope, I am not happy; and I really am not happy to be > writing this post. Those that saw my post on Friday read about my 48 month > project. The infamous quilt that has been in the making for way too long. > After my post I was inspired to do some markin” >

  32. Hey Lisa, don’t despair!!!!! Either wet it some more to make the best of the bleeding or get your paint/dye out and make it look like that was the plan all along! That is too much work to give up on it! Ellen

  33. Oh Lisa: what a disaster! But I am sure it can be fixed. Many gave good suggestions. I do try to remember to wash my fabrics in retayne (before cutting and quilting if using strong colors with white). I had made one a few years ago and the red bled into the white when I spritzed the blue marks away! I was devastated. My local quilt shop recommended a product, Sew Clean. I used a q-tip and the red came out. The quilt went on to win a second place, judge’s choice and viewers choice!!! So with your expertise there is definitely hope for your quilt. Best wishes. L

  34. Lisa,

    Like everyone else… I feel your pain. I was blocking a quilt with Hand dyed embroidery threads and Inktense water color pencils. I’m not sure which bled, but I had great success with Blue Line Eraser. The stuff we use when the blue water soluable pens don’t wash away. Keep going, with all the tips here, something is bound to do a success.


  35. Really sad about your quilt. I had some batik that faded on my ironing board cover when I was starching it. Before I washed the finished quilt, I BASTED Shout Color Catchers over all of the offending fabric pieces. Mine where just squares. I think the close contact caught it all. It is possible with some Sew Clean and color catchers you can get it out. Best of luck.

  36. hi , I commented about using Z’out to remove stain in fabric from a navy blue cover that got wet bleeding into yellow on a quilt. I did not mention Zap. I do not know if it still available but it came in a small white container suitable to keep in a purse which measured about 1 1/2 inch y 3/4 inch by about 5 inches, with a raised dots scrubbie at one end. It also has taken grease out of ski jackets which didn’t come out right away just like the Z’out. It wass available at Joanne’s fabrics. Another brand in the same style of white container seemed to work just as well and was named Martha’s Choice. good luck

  37. I had success getting color out of a quilt that bled using Synthrapol. It actually worked. I washed the quilt in it after it was completed

  38. Pingback: My “Almost” Shoulda, Coulda Been Houston Auction Quilt | Lisa H Calle's Blog

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