If you are just starting out in the sewing world, you may not realize the importance behind preshrinking your fabrics. Well trust the experts that say you should always preshrink fabric before starting a sewing project! If you skip the preshrinking process, you risk damaging your completed garment after it is washed and dried for the first time. You may think you can get away with skipping this step, until one day all your hard work and labor goes to waste when your freshly-finished scarf is shrunk down to a potholder after it is laundered. And shrinkage is not the only effect to predetermine, color change and fade are as well. Avoid these devastating consequences by simply preshrinking your fabrics!
Review Fiber Content in Fabrics
When you are purchasing a new roll of fabric for an upcoming sewing project or design, it is important to know your fiber content. These rolls are called bolts, and at the end of them are specifications regarding the fabric. They provide information on the best methods to laundering the fabric, as well as, the fiber content and dimensions.
If you own a cell phone, it is helpful to take a photo of the specifications on each bolt of fabric you purchase. Then you can go home and download the information to your computer, and always have instructions on file regarding each fabric’s care instructions and fiber content. If you don’t have a phone or camera, a trusty pen and notepad are all you need! Simply write down the specs of the fabric and tuck the piece of paper into the fold of the bolt to save it there for future reference.
Follow the laundering instructions on the bolt end and wash the fabric before constructing your garment. This will tell you how the fabric is going to respond to being laundered, so look for color changes, fading, and shrinkage. If it shows too much of all three, you probably don’t want to use that fabric for your project. This is why preshrinking fabric is a great tester.
If the fabric is good and you decide to move forward with your garment, be sure to pass along care instructions if it is intended to be a gift to someone else. This way, they do not damage your gift in the first wash. For fabrics that are dry-clean only, you must take it to the dry cleaners to have it preshrunk and tested. It is not recommended to preshrink dry-clean only fabrics in the washer and dryer.