24 Nov

Why Do We Want Black & White Answers When The World Is So Grey?

I made a perfectly awful quilt today.

After a mere week on my son’s bed, the beautiful quilt inspired by his awesome racetrack drawing told me that it just wasn’t going to stand up to bi-weekly washings. I knew that going in, but I had my fingers crossed that the quilt would somehow be immune to the ravages of washing, and that my son’s bed wetting would miraculously end (not sure where I got that idea since he’s always been very consistent in that department).

My answer was to stuff an old duvet cover with batting and stitch it together. Stuffing is not nearly as easy to smooth as layering like in a traditional quilt sandwich. I followed the stripes on one side, but didn’t bother to make sure they lined up on the back side. The edges are all wobbly. My loop quilting in the wide stripes has very inconsistent stitching, and I closed the whole thing by folding over the open end and top-stitching. Nope, it’s not a beautiful quilt. But I won’t care when it’s faded and thin after many, many washings.

Which leads me to washing. I’ve determined that the eco-conscious people who promote washing laundry in cold water only definitely do not have bed wetters in their homes. Nor do they have kids still mastering the art of butt wiping or husbands who take long runs and sweat profusely. Sometimes, hot water is just the best way to get the job done. I’ve found that this is especially so when one uses the phosphate-free, all natural laundry soaps. They say they are formulated for cold water, but my nose tells me that I can either wash in cold water with lots of chemicals, OR wash in hot water and have gentler runoff; but cold water and natural soap — still smells like urine.

I like fluffy towels too. My plan: two or three loads of laundry, but only one load in the dryer. Towels, jeans, socks and undies go in the dryer, everything else goes on the line. unless it’s raining — then everything goes in the dryer.

Back to the quilt. I tried a new batting made of 100% PLA fibers. It says it’s eco-friendly. I don’t doubt that this corn-based fiber is friendlier than polyester, but I’m not sure how it compares to cotton. As a big time cotton batt user, I’m thinking that I might be better staying with that, because (as underlined by my copious research a few posts back), if we are eating corn, and eating animals that eat corn, and are putting corn-derived fuel in our cars, do we want to be making quilts with corn too? With a potential need for so much corn, will there be room on the earth to grow anything else? At least if I use a cotton batt, maybe some of those corn crops would get rotated to cotton every once in a while (don’t tell me how it really works, I know it’s not as simple as this). Anyway: the PLA. It feels a little scratchy and more like a poly batt than a cotton one, but it’s light and fluffy and potentially a perfect weight for our mild climate. It was hard to tell how it handled since my quilt making was so bass-ackwards on this project, but it wasn’t awful. The price was good too. I’m curious as to how well it washes. I’m also sure it won’t be long before I find out. In addition, I bought a batt that is 50% PLA and 50% cotton just for comparison. I’ll use that on the quilt for my daughter that still resides only in my head.

14 thoughts on “Why Do We Want Black & White Answers When The World Is So Grey?

  1. Wow, you really unloaded! I just bought a bamboo/cotton batting that I plan to use in a bed quilt. Have you tried bamboo?

    I use not just hot, but the sanitized setting for out sheets and towels. I am allergic to dust mites and it is recommended. For the rest of the laundry, I use cold water.

    I have never had a bed wetter, but my sister was. It is a very difficult thing for child and parents. My dad used to say not to worry, he had never heard of any one still wetting the bed when the got married!

    You found a good solution and who cares what the quilting look like on something that you are washing that often. You just want it to hold up!!

    Hangeth in!!

  2. Oh boy! We had a few bed wetters in our family too and it seems that it’s both genetic and hormonal – nothing you can really do about it. All of the bed wetters eventually “grew out of it”. From our lengthy potty training experience, I do know how these matters can be so stressful and grating. And you have my sympathy.

    As for laundry and temperatures, that is all very dandy, this washing at freezing point. But really, it doesn’t do anything for the environment if you have to do the load twice, does it? I find that there are certain areas where I am perfectly willing to go the extra mile for the environment and there are others where I’m not.

    Hang in there, it will all get better soon!

  3. better an “awful” quilt than a beautiful one fading away, right?

    and you’re right about the washing. I tend to wash most of my things at 30 or 40°C, but some things just NEED hot water. and soap. and prewash.

  4. I understand you… One of my sons was a bed wetter. We tried everything… nothing worked. And it went away by miracle at puberty. You just have to be patient I guess.

  5. I totally agree. Sweaty undershirts still smell like sweat, unless washed in hot water. We line dry everything we can, and I’m the odd one who likes my towels done outside to a crispy crunch.

    You know, your “awful” quilt is destined to be the most-loved, most-dragged around, most-needed-when-sick…so you might as well understand that your work is wonderful, no matter what!

  6. Or you could go rogue here. Blankets here in the contiguous 48 are different these days. You can pick up a waffle weave acrylic or lightweight fleece (or I can send you one) that will wash well, dry quickly, and last forever. Then Z can remove the nice quilt at bedtime and throw it on again during the day.

  7. Raising my hand over here….with two hockey players living with me (both hormonal teens, one a goalie) I am with you on the water temp thing. I was “normal, everyday” laundry in cold. The hockey stuff (and any clothes that got tossed in the basket with hockey clothes) gets warm. Towels and sheets, both of which are the most prone to growing bacteria, get hot wash/hot rinse. The environment doesn’t care what temp you wash with- it’s the damned electric bill (or gas). Thankfully, I have a tankless hotwater heater so I am not wasting all that energy to keep the water hot all the time. So it’s much more kind to the environment and the checking account. I wish I could hang stuff out- sunlight is the best for killing off left-over bacteria and getting rid of urine smell (nothing like diapers hung out to dry) but our condo association frowns on clothes lines and compost bins. Once the fence is up I plan to plant lots of stuff for privacy around the edges of the yard and THEN the clothes line is going up and the composter will be in a good spot to get sun!

    At least you can hang stuff out year-round. Wouldn’t do me any good today- cloudy, cold and snowing….but it looks nice!

    hugs,

    teri

  8. I love that your mom says, “Go rogue.” It’s a favorite expression around our house!

    And I’m glad to hear that it’s not just me who doesn’t think things smell clean when washed on cold (though they smell better once dry than while they’re still wet, for some reason). I kept thinking that the front-loader just wasn’t as efficient as everyone says it is.

    But I still worry about things fading faster if I wash with warmer water….

  9. This eco thing is so debatable…six of one, half a dozen of the other. Sometimes the remedy causes as much damage as the perceived problem. But I try. I compost, recycle, drive sensibly, use up and wear out. Still, as long as the utility bill isn’t too high, I will continue to use hot water with towels and bedding.

  10. Hi Kristin, I bought some of the corn based (PLA) batting and the type I bought was NOT washable. Because of this I have not used it…and it felt strange and yuck to my fingers. I have a peedeebutt in my home too, and I just stack quilts up under him and cover him with another. I figure he will grow out of that dreadful phase before too long. I quite like your quilt. Looks great to me! Oh and thank you so much for the uniforms! They arrived today safe and sound.

  11. Hang in there Dear. This too shall pass. I agree with the warm/hot wash. I’m very scent sensitive and fussy about smells. I will try to conserve in other ways.
    Don’t even get me started about low flush toilets. It’s not helping anything if you have to flush twice and three times. Give me a whoosher every time.

  12. My brother and I were reminising about growing up on a farm in the late 50’s early 60’s — I think we were the last people on earth to not have running water in the house! Even so, carrying pails of water to fill and then empty the wringer washer, my mother always used hot water to wash — even though it meant 4 big pots on the electric stove heating up before dumping into the wringer washer… hot water has always worked better, even when the energy used was human labour and electrical power both… Then of course everything hung out on the line, there was no such thing as an indoor dryer unless it was one or two of those wooden drying racks…
    Being ecology friendly today is easy compared with way back when!

  13. Kristin! You write the most marvelous posts. I just revel in your sense of humor which is so finely tuned that it is sharp! Poor you, with the bedwetter, not good at wiping but children, and sweaty husband! It is challenging trying to be environmentally friendly! If I just knew what to pack my trash in instead of these darned plastic bags…

    I like your quilt!
    Happy weekend!
    ~Emily

  14. Trying to remember where i just came from… sewchic perhaps? Anyway, this post caught my attention because I too have a bedwetter who could really use a nice quilt/comforter but I’ve been dragging my feet making one for the very reasons you listed. I like your idea – I think that’ll go on the list to do after Christmas.

    Anyway, to help get rid of the urine smell, have you ever tried white vinegar? I got this tip from my cousin who uses cloth diapers; she adds white vinegar to the spot where you’d usually add fabric softener. I’ve been doing that for a few months now and it seems to have helped, even when I just wash the sheets on warm.

    Best of luck with this whole thing. I just keep reminding myself — just like everything else so far, she WILL grow out of this! : )

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