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WASHing Fabric
What's the rule?
Desert Maille
Desert Maille  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/13/14 7:25 PM

Is it a rule of thumb to always wash the fabric before it's used for sewing? The instructions for my first quilting class (which I can't take for a month or 2) tells what kind of fabric to get and says to not wash it. Several articles I read say the opposite.
Jack

heathergwo
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Date: 1/13/14 8:13 PM

I will tell you that it's up to you.

MOST people on here wash EVERYTHING before it hits their cutting table.

SOME of us, myself included, don't wash hardly anything before sewing.

It really depends on several things. If the fabric is dirty then I'll wash it. Is it going to shrink significantly? If so, you may want to pre-wash. Is the fabric even washable? If you're unsure and you want to test, you may want to wash a little swatch and see how it does or how much it shrinks.

There are all different reasons to wash or not to wash. For me, it's just not something I do and so far I've not had a problem. However, if I was really concerned about shrinkage, I would probably pre-wash.

HTH!

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MrsCharisma
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Date: 1/13/14 8:17 PM

I used to just sew my things up but after having a couple of items go wonky (probably were off grain) or shrink I prewash almost everything to be safe. Things that say hand wash or dry clean (but aren't wool, silk, etc), I cut a swatch and see how the swatch goes. The last swatch I washed and dried came out the same size, texture and there were no color changes so I ended up not washing the whole length of fabric.

I bought some cotton flannels that shrank down to 41" (from 44") after washing and drying so I'm glad I prewashed those.

So yeah all that to say...it depends! Lol!

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Nakisha
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My Big 4 Sizing: Medium | Tops 14/16 | Pants 18 | Skirts 16/18.

My Measurements: 36 HB | 38.5 FB | 34 W | 44 Hip

PattyE
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In reply to Desert Maille <<
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Date: 1/13/14 8:45 PM

I always pretreat...even taking yardage to the dry cleaners. I don't want to spend all that time and effort making a garment only to have it shrink or something the first time it's cleaned.

Speech girl
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In reply to Desert Maille <<


Date: 1/13/14 8:46 PM

Sometimes I have heard for quilting you don't prewash the cotton batting so it will shrink when washed after the quilt is made and so it gives the quilt a certain look. I have not done much quilting, so there may be reasons not to prewash your fabric.

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dmh1
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Date: 1/13/14 8:46 PM

Another consideration is your skin sensitivity. I find the chemicals in unwashed fabric make my hands and arms itch when I sew with that fabric, so I wash everything for that reason mostly, but also to check for colorfastness (is that a word?) and shrinkage. I have had one print disappear in the wash and I would have hated to have that occur after spending a lot of time on a sewing project.

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Michelle

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Nancy K
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In reply to Desert Maille <<


Date: 1/13/14 9:01 PM

I don't quilt so I can't speak to quilting cottons, but I test before I wash and I don't wash things I am going to send to the cleaners. Sometimes I don't like how the fabric looks after washing so I plan on sending to the cleaners. I don't pre treat coating fabrics

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frame
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Date: 1/13/14 9:08 PM

I was under the impression that most quilters don't prewash their quilting cottons. I don't know about this because I am not a quilter so perhaps you could ask on the quilting board.

I can tell you that I prewash all garment fabric before I sew it and I can tell you why. It's dirty. Many fabrics are manufactured in factories and finishes are applied that will cause your machine to skip stitches and in general just not sew as well. Fabric is stored in warehouses and shipped across the country/oceans/seas/whatever in delivery trucks (who knows what was in those trucks previously) and delivered to stock rooms where it may sit for awhile.

I worked in a fabric store for many years. I received the fabric, unpacked the giant boxes it was delivered in, stacked it in the storeroom (our storeroom was clean but I was in some that were not), unwrapped it (it was usually wrapped in plastic) and placed the fabric out in the store. That fabric sometimes fell on the floor, it was sometimes stepped on. I watched people touch it. I watched people rub it on their skin, I watched 4 year olds spit gum in it, I watched kids blow their noses in it.

I don't want that dirty fabric touching the rest of my clean fabric. I for sure don't want it touching my skin and I definitely don't want to sew on it. I don't sew dirty things. I won't repair a broken zipper or replace a button on a dirty garment - my family knows this well.

I wash the fabric, make the garment, then wash the garment before I wear it. I also wash RTW before I wear it, but some people are not so particular.

Some fabric continues to shrink even after several washings and I may wash those more than once before I sew them. Cotton, linen, denim, some rayons. Linen gets progressively softer and nicer to work with as it is washed.

All that said, in the end it is entirely up to you if you want to wash your fabric before you sew on it. There is no rule. I hate rules. I like logic and common-sense.

ETA: I don't use fabric or make garments that must be dry-cleaned.






-- Edited on 1/13/14 9:09 PM --
-- Edited on 1/13/14 9:11 PM --

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ccris
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Date: 1/13/14 10:43 PM

If you're using cotton batting and cotton fabric for quilting, you probably shouldn't pre-launder. My grandmother used to quilt and she never pre-laundered cotton fabrics before quilting. There's a certain look finished cotton quilts take on after they're washed. If that's what you're looking for, don't pre-wash. Follow the directions. I think you'll be happier with your completed project.

PattiAnnJ
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Date: 1/13/14 10:48 PM

If the fabric is washable, I lightly prewash for garments well as for quilting.

Reasons are to test for shrinkage, remove chemicals, excess dye and soil. You have no idea who has handled the fabric or how many times it has been on the floor.

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

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