TUTORIAL- Pre-shrink Wool...Fast and Easy at Home! (revised)

Monday, August 30, 2010
Many of us are ready to sew our fall wardrobes....and I am too!
So I thought you might be interested to know of an easy yet professionally effective method that I use to pre-shrink wool yardage. It is one of a few methods that I learned during my Tailor Apprenticeship.

(This is a revised version of one of the most popular tutorials I have written. Since I have so many new blog followers since it was first published here last year, I thought it was time to revisit it :)

First...the fabric! This luscious yardage is from my stash. One of the pieces was purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics a few seasons ago. The green check yardage is 100% tropical wool crepe, the gray check yardage is a medium weight blend of wool and silk.

Why pay big bucks to take this fabric to the dry-cleaner to steam shrink it,
when we can do it easily at home?

Wool Yardage

Now the method:

  • Serge or zig-zag the raw cut edges of the fabric.
  • Next, wet 2-3 clean thick towels with very HOT water until they are quite wet but NOT dripping. Use towels you have had for a while, so that lint will not be transferred from the towels to the fabric ;)
  • Now toss the hot wet towels and the fabric into your clothes dryer.
  • Set the dryer on HIGH heat, and tumble the fabric and hot wet towels for 30-40 minutes.   (If you are using a high napped wool, or are just unsure about this method, test on a 6"x6" swatch of your fabric before committing the entire length.)
  • If you have a steam setting on your dryer...skip the towels and tumble with steam for 20-30 minutes on high heat. If your fabric is still damp after 20-30 minutes, dry without steam for about 10 more minutes.
    • Lay the fabric flat until it is cool. 
    Align CenterThat's it! Your wool yardage is now ready for the needle.
    The appropriate interfacing for most wool and wool blends  
    is PRO-WEFT Supreme Lightweight Fusible or 
    PRO-WEFT Supreme Medium-weight Fusible

    Wool Yardage After SteamingAlign Center

    As you can see above, this Dryer "Machine Steam Shrink" method did not visibly change the fabric at all, and it's hand is still soft and smooth. However it did shrink. Each piece was 60" wide and 2 yards long before steam-shrinking. After, the green 100% wool piece measured 59.5" wide and was 2.5" shorter in length. The gray wool/silk blend was still 60" wide but 1.75" shorter in length.