Sunday, June 5, 2005

What Your Mama Never Told You About Sewing...

How To Pre-Wash Fabric!

Most modern sewists know the importance of washing fabric before cutting a pattern and constructing a garment. A pre-wash will rid fabric of mill sizing chemicals and any excess dye, and perhaps most importantly it will reduce the chances of the finished garment shrinking.

What is the best way to pre-wash fabric? Does it matter what soap is used? How hot the water is? You bet it does! I have found that the following methods give me consistent results every time:

For Denim, Linen, Hemp and their blends, I wash the raw yardage as ruthlessly as I can, even if I will be more gentle with the finished garment. Hot water, plus a soap like Synthrapol will both soften the fiber and keep any excess dye suspended so that it goes down the drain rather than settle back into the fabric.

Additionally, I splash about 8 ounces of plain vinegar into the wash water along with the soap. I like the way the acidity softens the fabric and seems to help stave off future wrinkles.

It's a good idea to always test a scrap before preparing the entire length of fabric for the complete pre-wash...because while these methods have always worked very well for me, your mileage may vary!