I always preshrink, not "wash". The sizing in the fabric acts as a detergent, so if you just put it through a rinse cycle that is enough. The fabric then goes into the dryer, or I usually iron it so it is nice and pressed, ready to cut. When I used to use midgrade fabric for quilting (JoAnn Fabrics) I didn't rinse or wash it first because some of that fabric was flimsy and needed sizing to hold together for cutting and sewing. In that case I sprayed the fabric with water and ironed it. I will test dark colors for bleeding.
I don't think it's a good idea to sew first then shrink because the fabrics shrink at different rates. It's better, if you want that look, to use a backing that has a 1 - 2 % shrinkage.
I just wore a shirt yesterday that I made with unwashed cotton..........oooooppps.
Tight in the arms, then remembered I had not washed the fabric first.
It was a fabric line that just came out last fall, I treat fabric like wine, buy it and then let it age on the shelf awhile. lol
I've always done what Ardie does with cottons. My apparel fabric I treat differently. Never wash until ready to use so that I can treat it the same way I will treat the garment. Even though some things can be put through the washer/dryer, there are some garments I like to hand wash only.
If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased. --Katherine Hepburn
I always prewash, just what I was always taught to do. I remember a lady in the 80s gave me some blue and red fabric that bled awfully....seems like the stuff now has better dyes though, I never see much bleeding at all.
Location: south central Kentucky(finally out of all the snow)
I don't sew clothing, so I can't comment on that.
I quilt though and I never prewash/preshrink my fabric before use unless it's for a swap here. I like working with crisp fabric and have way too much material to prewash and resize before using. In 25 years of quilting I have never had a problem with any of the unwashed fabric that I have used in quilts. I do take care to wash my quilts in cold water and don't overly dry them.
I want to have the fabric in it's finished state after going through the most extreme conditions - hot wash and dry, then ironing - so I can use the right stitch and finishing techniques for a smooth garment. No fabric, even backing, shrinks evenly.
THREAD is the big shrinker that can ruin all your work - I only use the Swiss-made Mettler now; it makes a huge difference, and I think it pays for itself just in the amount of ironing those burbled collars and plackets require. Your sewing machine will thank you too!
Last edited by RedDirt Cowgirl; 09/13/11 at 02:06 PM.
I've been told that modern fabrics don't have to be prewashed, but I do it anyway just to be safe and to get out the sizing. I wash, dry and then iron before ever cutting a piece, lots of work, but it's the way I was taught so I'm used to it (but then I'm older than dirt, lol) and I've never had anything shrink up or bleed on me, so I stick with what I know.
Ardie did have a good idea about getting it ready before washing though! I think the hardest part is untwisting it and spreading it out after it comes out of the dryer, especially if it's a 5-yard piece of fabric, like I use lots of times, lol!
Quality thread is a must!
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. - Dalai Lama
Sewing/tailoring class in college: pre-treat your fabric exactly how you will be treating it after the garment is sewn. So for wool jacket and skirt that was to be made I had the fabric, hair canvas and zipper dry cleaned. (that was 28 years ago, maybe it's different now)