Ask Jo

Judith asked:
I really liked your Sunday Schnibble quilt. Are her patterns still available?


This is her Schnibbles Times Two book.

This is her book Another Bite of Schnibbles.

There are more of her books available that are not Schnibbles.  This is my favorite.  For me it’s a must have in my library.  Kelli has made several of the quilts in here.  The book is Miss Rosie’s Farmhouse Favorites.  The includes a lot of the last patterns she put out before she went on and started working at Moda.

She is a real talent.

The next comment came from April.  She wrote:….

Hi. How wonderful! I do have a question/concern. Do they get washed before they get to their final destination? Rosie is beautiful , but I am terribly allergic to beagles. Not just beagles but they are one of the ones that bother my allergies the most. I would hate for the recipient to have such allergies. (I’m not a dog hater yall…I am owned by a standard poodle)

April wrote this comment after she saw Rosie sitting on a charity quilt that made a pit stop here before it got sent on to someone to get finished and donated.

I wrote back, “I think that’s a personal thing April as to if they get washed or not. I don’t wash quilts before I give them away. I’m guessing that anyone who has an allergy would know to wash quilts before they use them…or anything else the receive from someone else’s home.”

I hope you reconsider, as some of these already sick children, could become terribly sick. Something as mild as a little itchy nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing, don’t seem like much to someone with no dog allergies. For someone that has more severe allergies, like myself, I get all those within the first minute or two. I then have to use my rescue inhaler. I’m blessed that i have apnea and sleep with a CPAP, and it has helped me get air when I’ve had trouble breathing. (I put my mask on.) I have to carry a rescue inhaler, an epinephrine shot (EpiPen), and nitroglycerin. I once went into full blown respiratory arrest, which sent me into a massive heart attack. Code STEMI was called, then Code BLUE. The doctors said it was from my fear of not being able to breathe (the respiratory arrest). I think I read you give your quilts to sick children. I may have read wrong, so forgive me for butting in. It’s just that when someone sick, young, or elderly receives a gift such as a quilt, I’m sure they’re not thinking about washing it first. Every NICU, and retirement home I’ve quilted for, has it in their guidelines for the items to be washed in a “free and clear” type detergent. You don’t have to allow my comment, I just wanted to try to let you know how serious animal allergies can be. My husband is Native American. He grew up rabbit hunting. It broke my heart when my allergies got so bad we had to give up our beagles. They are wonderful, and adorable dogs. Thanks for taking the time to read my rather long comment. I hope you have a blessed weekend, and forgive me if I overstepped.”

First off I am very sorry April that you have this allergy.  That has to be hard to live with.  I can’t imagine being in that situation.

Being April brought this up I think it’s a good time to talk about the topic of allergies.  My family and the people who I come in contact with day to day do not have this allergy.  If they did, I wouldn’t have gotten a beagle.  But they don’t so Rosie, as troublesome as she can be, is staying with me.  If someone were to want to join my childcare family and they had an allergy like April’s, I wouldn’t accept them for care.  Rosie is my family now.  She takes priority.  If something happened that one of my grandchildren ends up with a allergy to Rosie, I would go directly to Mary at Country Threads and beg her to take Rosie.  (Mary is the best pet mom).  I would hate it but for family I would do it.

As far as allergies of others who I don’t know and have never met…I can’t base my life on would be’s and could be’s.  Anyone who sends a quilt top here knows I have Rosie.  They know I could send their quilt top to a quilt finisher with a dog hair or two on it…in fact, expect it.  I am going to assume that the people know themselves and know whether they have allergies or not.  If they have an allergy, finishing a quilt top that came from my home is probably something that they shouldn’t do.  I can’t predict the health concerns of someone who is going to touch the quilt.  I feel they need to know that for themselves.

Once the quilt top is in the hands of charity quilt finisher, they are responsible to prepare the quilt to the specification of the charity they are donating the quilt to.  I am not.  If someone is donating a quilt to Ronald McDonald house, I expect them to find the guidelines and prepare the quilt accordingly whether that be specific fabric used, size of quilt or laundering.  I am no longer a part of the quilt process after it leaves my home.  I can’t be and if I am expected to be, I quit.  I refuse to turn into a charity quilting police officer and I can’t follow quilts that far into the process.

As for me personally gifting quilts, I don’t wash them.  I like the look of quilts unwashed and honestly, I’m typically chasing the deadline to gift it so closely that I don’t have time to wash it.  As the gift giver, it is my responsibility to give the gift.  As the receiver of a gift, it is the receiver’s responsibility to receive it.  If the recipient has an allergy or issue that might prevent them for receiving it, I believe they need to make the accommodation.  They might have their mother or a friend take the gift to their home and wash it once it has met the needs of the recipient.  They might just regift it on.  If I knew of an allergy, I likely wouldn’t give a quilt.

We have friends that have a 3rd grade girl.  She has celiac disease.  That means she has to eat gluten free.  We are often at potlucks and things that they are at.  The mother takes care of her daughter’s eating.  If something comes that looks like it might be an issue for her daughter to eat, she tells her daughter don’t eat it.  She might also ask the person who brought it what the ingredients are.  She always makes sure that she herself makes food and brings items that her daughter can eat in case there aren’t many things at the potluck that she can eat.  When we go, I often make monster cookie bars.  They are something that can often be eaten by people with gluten issues.  I have another friend that makes pickle roll ups.  When we go and we know that she will be there we try extra hard to bring something the gal can eat.

I think most people who have severe allergies do the same thing our mom friend does.  She watches, she looks out, she handles things.  She makes accommodations as needed as only she and her daughter know best how to handle their own allergy.

My mom had terrible headaches that were triggered by woman’s perfume.  We’d go places and we’d smell it…we knew within a short time, we’d all be leaving.  Mom would be getting a headache.  Once she got out of the place she would take some meds and in a few hours, be okay.  It changed our life style and it’s sad…but at the same time, it was my mom’s problem and she had to find a way to deal with it.  Leaving early is what we did.  Friends and family knew not to wear perfume so if we were with them, we were okay…others didn’t know and that made it difficult.

I truly believe if I give a quilt to anyone and they have an allergy, they already have a personal plan in place to deal with a potential allergy.  I believe it is their responsibility to work their plan or someone who is their care partner to work the plan for them.  I don’t believe it is my responsibility unless I know the person has an allergy.

I do occasionally get in fabric or quilt tops that come from a smoker’s home.  I know smoke is a common smell that bothers people.  If I smell it, I always talk to the people who will likely be getting the donation.  I ask if it’s okay to send it.  I’ve gotten both yes and no responses.  I respect that and work with the places I am sending the donation to.  If you do smoke, don’t be afraid to send it my way..I’ll find a home.

Anyone getting fabric or quilt tops from me, please know that anything that comes from my house likely has dog hair or two on it.  If you have allergies to dogs, my house is not where you should get fabric from.  If you are a charity quilt finisher, when you donate the finished quilt on, please be aware that some people do have allergies, you might want to wash them…but most importantly, follow the guidelines of the group you are donating the quilts on to.

Thanks so much to April for bringing this dilemma to our attention.  I think it’s always good to have the most information we can when we make decisions.

17 thoughts on “Ask Jo”

  1. Years ago, I gave my daughter’s neurologist many things – some made of fabric, some toys, etc. I always reminded him “from dog friendly home.” Now I label donations “cat friendly home.” Dr said that helps him know which child/patient he share the items. When I gift a quilt (especially for a fundraiser) – same info shared, info on washing/storing and a color catcher sheet. Fabric I am given gets the sniff test. Most tell me about pets. Smoke is troublesome for me & gets washed immediately. Working well so far …

  2. Jackie Goosen

    I wash and dry my gifted quilts. I LOVE the look of the shrunk quilt. That is mostly why I do it. I also have a couple of dogs that run through my house and I sew in my basement that during some times of the year when the air doesn’t run, it can get a little musty. As some say…you do you. I like the label or disclaimer idea.

  3. I understand this also. I am deathly allergic to cats. I love cats and it’s very hard to be allergic to them. I used to sell candles and did a demonstration in a friends house. They did not tell me they had cats, and I forgot to ask. Within minutes my throat closed and I had to use my inhaler. Luckily my sister was there and helped with the party. Before I make plans with friends, I always ask if they have cats. A friend of mine still invites me to her parties even though she knows I can’t come. As an extremely allergic person, I take that responsibility on myself. I am the one who would be miserable not the other person. It’s on me to ask. Thank you for bringing this up. It’s good to have a conversation about this. And yes, it’s our responsibility to wash items or ask questions.

  4. I sew charity quilts that go to a children’s hospital. We used to wash them before sending them, but the coordinator told us we didn’t need to do that because she has to wash them with a specific detergent that they have there. I feel for the people who have severe allergies as April described. I don’t know how you’d be able to go out in public and not be exposed. Maybe routine medicine to prevent an allergic reaction would be in order.

  5. Joanne M Perry

    How about a card included with the quilt stating made in a pet inhabited home, wash if necessary?
    The charity would then know what to do.

  6. This is a great explanation of how to handle fabric and quilts when there are possible allergies!! Thank you so much for being so firm, fair, frank, and friendly!!

  7. Our little sewing group makes and donates many quilts to our local hospital. We do wash all of them, not just because of possible allergies, but also to make sure we wash them with color catchers to make sure the fabric doesn’t bleed and ruin the quilt. A lot of our quilts are used in the infusion center. The hospital may wash all of them before they use them, but we want to be assured the colors don’t bleed. I, too, like the look of a washed quilt.

  8. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, 1st let me say thank you for answering my question. 2nd as to wash or not wash quilts. I figure even if you would when when could you find the time. Allergies are not a fun thing. I’m allergic to most soaps, lotions and perfumes. It is my responsibility to take care of myself. Most of the family and close friends know and take care also. I do like the honesty of your response. Thanks again.

  9. Stearns Carol

    Gluten free peanut butter cookies
    1 cup peanut butter, any kind
    1 cup white sugar
    1 egg.
    Mix, drop, bake at 350.

  10. I belong to a Charity Group and our leaders distribute our monthly pile to multiple local shelters and hospitals. All of them wash before gifting so we are not expected to prewash. (Why gift a quilt already washed twice?)

    My sister who lives in town, is seriously allergic to cats. I have 2. So all gatherings are at her house (sometimes I take all the food and/or go to her home early and do all the work). I have only once prewashed a quilt: I made a quilt for the daughter of 1 of my anesthesiologists who had been diagnosed with cancer. I washed it organic along with a pillowcase. I immediately removed from the dryer, folded and placed in pillowcase, and straight out to my car for delivery).

    As for heavy smoker fabric, I learned long ago, when receiving some nasty smelling fabric, that 3 days in the bright sunshine eliminated the smell. Yippee!!!! Cheap easy cure. I draped it over our picnic table!

    I concur that allergies are the responsibility of the person who has them.

  11. I agree. Even if you did wash the quilt maybe the recipient is allergic to your type of detergent. You could come in contact with any allergen you have by just going to Target. Maybe someone with a cat or dog has touched and transferred cat or dog hair to the merchandise that you are purchasing. There is no right answer. I do wash every quilt I make because I like the squishy look after it is finished. Have a great day!

  12. I’ve always told everyone that I live with dogs. I’ve donated many quilt tops to Project Linus and have no idea what they do with them. I’ve sold a few campers and cars and always state that even though it’s clean, pets have been in it. I figure I have my own self to take care of and will allow others to take care of theirs. I do not wash my quilts but always give them 2 color block papers pinned to the back to keep colors from running. I do try to be considerate of others but have recently started wearing perfume at home. It doesn’t last long but I sure love smelling it.

  13. I live in a “cat friendly” home and any quilt that I gift or donate may have cat hair or dander on it. It’s usually not a problem. I send QOV quilts to someone who states they would like them washed without detergent or fabric softener and dried without dryer sheets so I follow that guideline.

    Before I retired I worked in a public library and remember one time a lady walked in who must have bathed in perfume, very strong perfume. I had a migraine within minutes. That told me to quit wearing perfume to work as it could really affect someone else. Later I found an unopened bottle of perfume at home that had been a gift. I think it must have been the same scent because one little sniff gave me a headache. Into the trash it went!

    I do think anyone who has severe allergies needs to be responsible for looking out for themselves because people who don’t know them don’t realize how serious their problem is.

  14. I appreciate that opinions are being expressed with respect for others. I would like to add that sometimes we have no options and no way to care for ourselves. I’ve been hospitalized for surgery, for accidents and injuries. When you are hooked up to machines, feeling sick and bruised and a nurse walks in with two bottles worth of perfume sprayed all over her clothes, hair and skin, you literally have no way to escape, to protest or to take action on your behalf. Asthma and migraines are often triggered by scents. I will speak from experience and say that bedding washed in a hospital laundry using standard detergents can add to a patient’s distress. All of the opinions expressed on today’s posts don’t seem to recognize that sometimes those of us with allergies and sensitivities cannot speak up for ourselves nor can we take action to help ourselves. That is why I always washed my Project Linus quilts and why I always ask the recipient of my quilts what they wish to have done before I deliver their quilt. It’s just my little bit of consideration.

  15. I never wash my quilts, whether I’m gifting them or they are a charity quilt. When I give a “gift” quilt, I always include washing directions and a packet of Orvus for the first wash. I don’t have indoor pets and we don’t smoke, however, if they want to wash the quilt before they use it, they have a good soap to wash with. I usually suggest they add a color catcher, just to be on the safe side.

  16. Bonnie Lippincott

    A very good post. I don’t gift many quilts, but when I do they are unwashed. Our guild gives pillowcases to a children’s hospital and one of our members has volunteered to launder them in Dreft, iron them and package them in small baggies. All at the request of the hospital. She’s willing to do that for them. If someone hadn’t volunteered they wouldn’t get pillowcases from us. Others might not, but it is up to the facility, agency, or another giftee to decide. We make hundreds of quilts and pillowcases each year and they go to various organizations and they are unwashed.

    It’s a wonderful thing to be able to pass on our love with these items.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top