Monday, June 6, 2011

To wash or not to wash?

Do our pre-wash your cotton fabrics?  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

Pre-washing, and the need to, really depends on what you are making and what fabric you are using.

General high quality quilting/dressmaking cottons have very little shrinkage (about 5% in general) so if you are making a snug fitting garment, or a quilt, it is best to prewash so there are not any little surprises after your garment has been washed for the first time.  If you are using a cotton knit, shrinkage can be up to a massive 25%.

Different cottons shrink at different rates so if you are using different fabrics sourced from different manufacturers it is often best to prewash.

Cotton fibres are stretched during manufacture so washing just "relaxes" the natural fibres back to their natural state, hence the shrinkage.  Drying on a low heat can also help relax the fibres.

Cotton fabrics (excluding organics) are coated in chemicals so if you are chemical sensitive, or just prefer to keep things natural, it is always best to pre-wash in a natural mild soap in cold water and either line dry or dry on a low heat.

I always pre-wash in cold water with a mild detergent.  This helps eliminate any colour runs.  I then dry in a warm dryer, and fold my fabric, ready for use.

Do you pre-wash?  Let us know in the comments below!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always pre-wash on handwash cycle to avoid freying as i started sewing 100% cotton clothing for my daughter with eczema - we try to avoid all chemicals. I also then have peace of mind that my fabric is pre-shrunk and avoid any colour running if i mix fabrics in a garnment. I hadn't tumble dried any yet, but i had a piece of fabric spin off as i read this so i just popped it in the dryer - perfect timing seeing as its still -2 outside!

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