HI DARLINGS! Okay I get asked this question all the time so here it is… YES you should pre-treat your fabric before cutting it. Let’s say you spend the day fabric shopping and get home excited to create a project… You cut it, sew it and wear it…it’s great right? Yeah… then you throw it in the wash, it shrinks and now you cant ever wear it again… sound fun? Hell no!
So when I get home with a bag of fabric I set them apart by type and then pre-treat them so I can get them ready to be cut and sewn. It’s not really all that complicated a process but it is worth the time and effort so you can make sure you get all the pre-shrinking that is going to happen before you cut!
Here is a quick look at some of the most common fabrics and how to treat them.
Most if not all fabrics need to be washed in the same manner that you plan to wash them when it’s a finished garment. You can, however, skip pre-washing for 100% poly fabrics (these will not shrink) You also can skip it for fleece, vinly and faux leathers.
Okay there are two obvious choices… your washing machine at home…throw your cottons, rayons, denims etc, in the wash the same way you would if it were a finished top or dress you bought at the store. (Wash one fabric at a time, do not combine several types in one wash)
The second option is the dry cleaners! I send all my “good fabric” to the dry cleaners like silks, wool, chiffons etc. Same rule applies, if you bought a coat at a store I highly doubt you are going to stick it in the washing machine right? So treat the fabric you would use to make a coat the same way and have the yardage dry cleaned first.
TIP I suggest you serge or zigzag the cut edges of your fabric together (not the selvage edges) before you toss it in the washing machine. This extra step will prevent raveling and the fabric from twisting into a hot mess.GUIDE TO TREATING SPECIFIC FIBERS
Knits love to shrink, so I wash my yardage in hot water. Once I make something I try not to dry it in the dryer. I usually will hang it to dry and then when almost dry I will throw it in the dryer for a few minutes on medium to knock wrinkles and get that “crunchy” feeling you get when you hang dry.
Linen Wash away! Linen will soften up so much after you wash it so you can freely toss the yardage and the finished garments into both hot water and hot dryer.
Cotton Voile, Challis, and Lawn (generally thin fabrics) should be washed on the gentle cycle with cool water and then pop in the dryer on a medium heat setting or hanging to dry.
Rayons I wash my rayons and rayon blends in warm water and tumble dry on low heat.
Silk There is so many opinions on how to handle silk but for me I use Woolite or baby shampoo (Johnson and Johnson) and I hand wash them and hang to dry or like I said before I will take it to the dry cleaners. It’s really a personal preference.
Wool I dry clean 100% of the time.
I hope that takes the mystery out of pre-treating fabrics. I always iron my fabrics and fold them up nicely once I am done pretreating.
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