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Message Board > Fabrics and more... > can of worms ( Moderated by CynthiaSue)

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can of worms
pre-washing fabric
petro
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petro  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/12/11 2:22 AM

When I learnt dressmaking and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we were not told to pre-wash fabric. We were told to cut a measured square of fabric ( if it was fabric destined for washing and not dry cleaning) wash and dry this and re-measure. I've done a lot of pre-washing recently since that seems to be the new orthodoxy, but a couple of threads about the problems of churning yardage through the washer and dryer have set me thinking - is it necessary? I made life hard for myself washing a plaid silk which went wobbly, and much harder to cut than when it had the loom dressing in it. I wished I hadn't bothered. Pre-wash or not?

3HoursPast
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In reply to petro


Date: 5/12/11 3:30 AM

I don't think it's a simple yes or no answer. I will pre-treat fabric in the same manner I want to treat the final garment. It works sooo well as a rule of thumb. If I am working with a "new-to-me" fabric, I'll cut a swatch, do my test sewing/techniques (how will a bound buttonhole behave on this fabric? What top-stitching stitch should I use?) and then put the whole thing in the washing machine. It works well...

Silk can change dramatically in the wash, but it's not always a bad thing. It's just whether or not you want it to behave that way...

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Kat B.
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Date: 5/12/11 7:33 AM

I'm with Bellelass on this one. I only throw the fabric in the washing machine if that is how the final product will be treated. If it is going to be dryclean only, I will test steam and if that works, I will steam the entire yardage to get out any potential shrinkage and proceed with cutting and sewing my project.

koo104
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Date: 5/12/11 8:27 AM

In MFR they do wash after the garment is made. There have ll of these ratios figured out for each fabrication they use for add the "shrinkage back int the pattern. After the garment is made it goes to a washing facility to get what ever type of washing down effect required by the design.
It is a trial and error process to get it right.
At home you would test fabrics that will get hard to handle after wash and wash them after garment is made but you would need to increase in areas where you will get shrinkage. Seems like even more work.

KatieA

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Date: 5/12/11 8:39 AM

I prewash all fabric on the setting I'd like to wash the garment (so I prewashed some silk charmeuse on the hand-wash setting).

I never put it in the dryer as I don't use that for my clothes.

tholtz
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tholtz
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Date: 5/12/11 9:05 AM

I toss almost everything into the washer/dryer, even silk but NEVER wool.

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carolynw
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In reply to petro


Date: 5/12/11 9:15 AM

I do wash most everything - like others have said - if that is the way it will be handled when finished.

I never wash wool and seldom wash silk as usually those garments go to the dry cleaners. I find that washing fabrics that are on the more delicate side with a product called EUCALAN is really a good way to go - if you can't find this then use baby shampoo on a cold water wash/rinse and always, always on the most gentle setting available on your machine

That having been said I am just finishing a light jacket made from a cotton stretch twill which I had washed - nothing terrible happened but it was very, very difficult to find true grain - had to tear the fabric both crosswise and length wise to make sure I had true straight grain which just goes to show - you never really know do ya

diane s
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In reply to carolynw


Date: 5/12/11 12:39 PM

Quote: carolynw
I never wash wool and seldom wash silk as usually those garments go to the dry cleaners. I find that washing fabrics that are on the more delicate side with a product called EUCALAN is really a good way to go

I wash most of my wools with Eucalan. Wool sweaters even the cashmere ones and all my wool yardage. You let the wool soak in the Eucalan, then spin the water out, no rinse. I have no idea how you would do this in a front loader.
I also wash and dry all my solid silk fabrics with shampoo. It changes the hand to soft with drape.
If you want your fabrics to to stay crisp, so not follow these directions.

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tg33

tg33
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Date: 5/12/11 12:47 PM

Twill fabric is not a straight weave, you can't get the straight of grain from pulling threads. Article here, halfway down the page.

FWIW, I've never sewn with twill, I've just seen this advice repeated a few times!

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3HoursPast
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Date: 5/12/11 7:44 PM

You can wash a wiggly fabric, then use some spray sizing to make it easy to handle. Try Best Press or something like that. I generally avoid starch.

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