Not A Pretty Picture...or Why Pre-washing Fabric is Important !

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Oh Yes my friends, it's NOT a pretty picture...but this is the resulting wash water as it went down the drain... after putting some very nice fabric through a plain warm water (no detergent!) wash....YUCK!

From my experience in the fabric business, visiting mills and converters, I think there are at least 3 reasons why pre-washing fabric is necessary.

1. To remove the sizing, excess dye, etc.

2. Fabric Mills and most warehouses can be dirty places. So Wash that don't where it's been!

3. When fabric is milled/manufactured it is pulled and stretched a few times before it ends up on the selling floor of fabric stores. This pulling and stretching is a consequence of getting it into sale-able form for the home sewing consumer:

First, it is loomed, then it is rolled under tension onto tubes, then people called "converters" use "double and rolling" machines to fold the fabric and roll it onto bolt boards. During these processes, the fabric is rolled under considerable tension to make the rolls (and then the bolts), as tight as make them as compact as possible for ease of shipping and other reasons.

So, often it is necessary to wash fabrics before sewing just to relax them (not to mention that dirt and sizing)....*sometimes* that is why they "shrink"...they are merely relaxing back to their original loomed proportions.