Students often ask me if it really is necessary to pre-wash their fabric before cutting into it for a new project.
Most of the time the answer is yes! But, if you can’t or you forget and your fabric is natural fibre, you will have to hand wash your finished garment in cool water to avoid it shrinking.
Here are some things to remember about shrinkage in fabrics:
- natural fibres can shrink up to 10%, allow for this when buying fabric as the fabric requirements in pattern instructions don’t allow for shrinkage
- shrinkage tends to occur most along the length – especially on knits
- knits tend to shrink more than wovens as there’s more movement in the structure of the fabric
- ideally dry your fabrics flat – wovens can be hung on a line, but never knits as they will stretch, knits must be dried flat and not draped over anything that will poke into the fabric and distort it ie. chair back, banister.
When pre-washing your fabric, put it on a cycle appropriate to the fabric (check the washing instructions in the shop when you’re buying the fabric) and one that you’d like to be able to use on the finished garment.
Happy washing and sewing!