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Tips & Techniques > Prewashing Rayons

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Posted by: SJ Kurtz
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About SJ Kurtz star
Member since: 6/6/03
Reviews: 44 (tips: 4)
Skill level:Advanced
Favored by: 5 people
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Posted on: 3/19/04 1:34 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 4 people   Very Helpful by 11 people   
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I am a firm believer in dry cleaner avoidance, so if it doesn't go in the washing machine I don't buy it. I have found over the years that most rayon will wash just fine IF you make allowances for shrinkage of yardage AND you test a strip first.

I tear off about a six inch strip crossgrain, pop it into a lingerie wash bag with a dye trapper sheet (Shout makes one) and put into the next washer load of similar color. It goes into the dryer as well (keep it in the bag for that trip as well). If it compares well to the original yardage for color and texture (or if I like the results), the whole thing goes into the wash by itself. The dye trapper sheet gives me a good idea of how much ink has been thrown off (I used to use a piece of muslin for that, but I feel this is more accurate). If it's too much, I could dry clean the stuff once I had finished the garment. There is so much shrinkage in rayon I don't feel comfortable not preshrinking in any case.

One odd thing I have found to be true is that you need to use detergent in the load. Without it, you won't get as much shrinkage NOW (but you will later).

When the garment is finished, I machine wash it but hang it to dry. When the garment is dry, I put it in the dryer for about fifteen minutes to heat out the wrinkles. This also works well for woolens and dress shirts, but it does set any remaining stains you may have missed.

Yes, I also wash silk, but that is very much on a case by case basis.

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Klutzy said... (10/19/06 6:19 AM) Reply
Exactly the info I needed, whether to add soap or not. Thanks!
sahmtodaniel said... (4/9/04 10:15 PM) Reply
Great tip - thanks! I am sewing a rayon dress at the moment and wondered if I had done the right thing prewashing it. I never make it to the drycleaners, so if it hadn't made it through the washer cycle, I wouldn't have bothered with it!
AnneM said... (3/20/04 7:44 AM) Reply
Well, don't I feel "duh". I pre-wash just about all my fabric. There are a few that I am not certain about, but that I don't really want to cut a large swatch of for testing. A small swatch would get lost in the wash. I hadn't thought of using my lingerie bags to put the swatch into! I love those dye-trap products.
Phoebe said... (3/20/04 7:31 AM) Reply
Excellent suggestions! I love the idea of the dye-trap as well as using the strip first. Now if I can just be patient enough for 2 laundry run-throughs! Thanks!
Ann C said... (3/20/04 7:27 AM) Reply
Thanks for the good tips - don't like dry-cleaning either. It's nice as sewers we have the opportunity to test wash fabrics, not so with RTW, could be too risky with an expensive garmet.
Annette H said... (3/20/04 6:54 AM) Reply
I had never heard of a dye-trapper sheet - so thanks for that. I always worry about Rayon, vbecause it can be so many different things - some great, some difficult. I can't miagine throwing something handmade into the dryer, though. I think this could ruin the small details - I always dry on a stand or outside on the line.
speedythemouse said... (3/20/04 0:06 AM) Reply
Good tip. I don't dry clean but have a love/hate relationship with Rayon. I got a big piece of rayon with a woven plaid design on it from the bargain bin last year & when I prewashed it I got a lot of shrink and a fantastic seersucker effect. It was unexpected, but a really neat texture. Imagine what it would have looked like if I'd sewn it up first!
katieb said... (3/19/04 6:30 AM) Reply
Great tip. I also avoid dry cleaning. The tip about using detergent is worth knowing and the 15 mins in the dryer, I will be trying that out. Thanks
SewVeryTall said... (3/19/04 3:10 AM) Reply
Great tip! I avoid the dry cleaners whenever possible too.
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