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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > prewashing fabric--is it really necessary? ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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prewashing fabric--is it really necessary?
tiger28
tiger28
Beginner
NY
Member since 1/11/10
Posts: 16
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Date: 12/31/10 11:31 AM

sorry to ask such a basic question- but i am confused- a sewing book i just bought says something to the effect that 'prewashing fabric is an old-fashioned belief and that fabrics today are finished and ready to be cut into garments and the only time you should prewash is if you are going to dye the fabric first' (the book is sew fast so easy so on by elissa k. meyrich)-everything else i have read says all fabric must be prewashed (unless it is dryclean only) -any thoughts?

Michelle L
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Michelle L  Friend of PR
Intermediate
MO USA
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In reply to tiger28


Date: 12/31/10 11:39 AM

All fabric must be prewashed or treated in some way. It MAY not shrink, but do you want to take the chance?

All fabric should be prewashed or treated in the same way that you are going to launder the garment afterward. If I am going to machine launder a garment, I will wash and dry it in the same way (or even treat it slightly rougher) than I will when I have completed the garment.

If a garment is going to be drycleaned, you can take your lengths of fabric to the drycleaner and have them steamed, or you can preshrink wool by soaking a couple of towels in hot water and putting the wet towels and the wool in the dryer.

Some fabrics shrink progressively, like flannel, and should be laundered numerous times before cutting.

In the case of denim, you may need to not only launder numerous times to take care of any shrinkage, but also to keep the dye from coming off on your hands while you are cutting and sewing.

So, in short, ALL fabrics should be treated in some way prior to cutting and sewing, otherwise you run the risk of all your work being for naught. While some fabrics do not shrink much at all, others will shrink even with dry cleaning.

------
Michelle

http://cheapandpicky.blogspot.com/

Kathi R
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Kathi R  Friend of PR
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CA USA
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Date: 12/31/10 11:44 AM

Absolutely, wash first. In fact Karla Kizer said it best in another thread ....something to effect of wash in hot water and dry on blast furnace so that the finished garment won't be damaged by any laundry treatment. If fabric is going down the drain, I want to know about it before I take the time to make something.....I adopt the same philosophy with the dishwasher. My motto is that if something is going to get ruined, good, I don't want it in the house.

------
2012 : starting stash 386, net additions 206, used 164, ending stash 428...I'm never going to get in front of this pile of fabric!

RockNRoll
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RockNRoll
TN USA
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Date: 12/31/10 12:14 PM

I always prewash. If I didnt prewash half of my outfits wouldn't fit me after sewing them. Knits and flannel shrink in the wash. I wash 2x and dry 2x.
-- Edited on 12/31/10 12:15 PM --

------
Go Sew Something

tiger28
tiger28
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NY
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Date: 12/31/10 12:22 PM

boy am i glad i asked you guys--- wonder what other info i cant trust in that book:)

diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 12/31/10 12:37 PM

I always prewash my fabrics, because I don't want any surprises in the laundry. There can be other problems besides shrinkage. I had a stretch woven that wrinkled so much it went in the rag bag. Another time, I had a knit and the print disappeared. But rtw isn't prewashed, so you can go that route if you feel comfortable with it.

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

quixoticpixels
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quixoticpixels
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WA USA
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Date: 12/31/10 12:39 PM

That book sounds highly suspect to me...Natural fibers do need some sort of pre-treatment. Polyester may not, but that's not my #1 choice in any case.

------
Amy
http://www.quixoticpixels.com

Michelle T

Michelle T
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BC CANADA
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Date: 12/31/10 12:46 PM

A couple other reasons to prewash

You know the fabric is clean, who knows what it may have picked up between the factory and your sewing room.

Those factory finishes may just wash right out and that lovely crisp fabcir may become a limp mess.

The fabric may shrink in ways you could not anticipate. Years ago Julie of Timmels fabrics had a lovely blouse weight fabric that gathered right up after breing washed.

------
Proud parent of a Dwight International School Honour Roll Student

nicegirl
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nicegirl
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DC USA
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Date: 12/31/10 12:48 PM

Yeah, bad advice. If the dye is going to run, the surface going to pill, or the fabric going to wrinkle beyond retrieval, I want to know that *before* I go to the effort of sewing it. And even fabrics that don't change hand in the wash generally have nasty chemicals in them (often formaldehyde) I'd rather not breathe as they run through the sewing machine.

------
http://theslapdashsewist.blogspot.com
=================
2007: purchased 115+, sewed 105+
So close to parity, yet so far

Trying again in 2008
Yards purchased: 133
Yards sewn: Somewhere around 95

2009? I give up

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
Intermediate
KS USA
Member since 12/13/08
Posts: 3072
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Date: 12/31/10 1:13 PM

If you want to know if it's necessary, just think back to the last pair of RTW pants or top you bought that shrank up to nothing in the wash!

------
~Gem in the prairie

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