5.02.2008

sewing tips friday

Prewashing Fabrics:

It's always absolutely necessary to wash your fabrics before you sew, more than once if possible. Years ago, I used to wash my fabric once on cold before sewing. I found that after washing the completed garments, the seams would pucker. The garments I worked so hard on ended up looking terrible. This happens because the fabric continues to shrink with each washing, but the polyester thread doesn't. Now I always wash my fabrics at least three times in hot water and dry them on high before sewing. Not only does this prevent shrinkage and seam puckering, but it also gets rid of the sizing and excess dyes in the fabric. It's an extra hassle, but it's so worth it.

I also learned a fabric washing trick from this blog (which has tons of other awesome sewing advice too). I tend to wash at least 2-3 yards of fabric at a time, and the fabric always gets all twisted and comes out really wrinkly. I hate it when that happens! To prevent this, first open the fabric to its full width. Then fold it in half, matching the cut ends together. Pin the ends along the full width using safety pins. Make sure the selvages are aligned and pin together each side as well. Then throw the whole thing in the wash. If you follow this tip, the fabric will come out much less wrinkly, and you'll save lots of ironing time. Just remember to throw out the safety pins often and get new ones or they will leave rust stains on your fabric.

21 comments:

Julia said...

ah hah! thanks for the safety pin tip, i will definitely try that. i HATE when the fabric comes out all twisty and wrinkly. happy weekend jenny! (hopefully it'll be tornado free)

Lena said...

ohhh that top (dress?) in the photo looks sooo cute...

jenny gordy said...

thanks, lena! it's a dress. i made it for my friend's birthday.

jean said...

ooh, thank you! after the last two twisty crinkly loads of washed fabric came out of the machine I thought to myself: there has GOT to be another way!

another question related to this: do you tend to use only cotton fabrics? I found a nice yardage of some mystery fabric at the thrift store that I think is silk (it smells like silk to me) and I've been afraid to wash it. Or if I did, I'd probably go the gentle cold cycle. How do you handle washing fabrics that are of a fussier content?

jenny gordy said...

jean,

DON'T WASH SILK!!! unless you want it to have a really rumpled look. but i have to warn you that it may turn out very badly. silk should be dry cleaned. you could hand wash a swatch of it with a gentle cleanser just to test it out. when in doubt, always wash a swatch first.

i mainly use cotton, linen, and bamboo fabrics, all of which can be washed. in the winter i use wool, and it's dry clean only. for the most part, never wash wool or silk.

: )

seashoreknits said...

hi jenny - i have been enjoying your sewing tip posts very much! this one was just great too. i'm a brand new beginning sewer, so i love all these tidbits of info. one question about prewashing - i am sewing a zigzag stitch around all the cut edges of my fabric before washing. do i still need to be doing that? or does your safety pin trick help to take care of the fraying and unraveling issue? many thanks!

studio craft said...

Oh my goodness, the tip regarding washing yards of fabric is amazing! Thank you thank you!

And I know your friend is going to love her new top! So cute!!

studio craft said...

Ugh...I need to get a new blogger account. The last comment is from me [Sally].

Marianne said...

Thanks for the tip on how to avoid that crinkly tangled thready mess I always end up with when pre-washing fabrics.

I hate HATE pre-washing as I am SO impatient to get started on a project, but if I skip it, tears inevitibly follow.

jenny gordy said...

sorry, sally! someone left kind of a rude anonymous comment, and so i want people to sign in so i can avoid that sort of thing. i know it's annoying though.

jenny gordy said...

seashoreknits,

i've never heard of someone sewing a zigzag stitch on the cut ends before sewing fabric. i personally don't think that's necessary. with the safety pins, you'll get about an 1/8" of fraying at the ends, but that's not really a problem.

seashoreknits said...

oh that is great news, jenny! i don't know where i picked that zigzag tip up - but it has definitely been a hassle. you have just saved me loads of time. thanks so very much for sharing your expertise and for the inspiration your blog continues to give!
(teri)

quaint handmade said...

i love gingham and the dress; so pretty. thank you for the safety pin tip. i'm really bad about pre-washing my fabric, but i think you've convinced me.

jean said...

Thanks for the head's up on silk. And wool too, it seems. Though I must confess (whisper) I have machine washed wool slacks and some of my sweaters and it turned out okay. I don't think I'd recommend this for every article of wool, but it worked out for me.

With the question about the zig zag stitch that you sew before washing? I sew a running stitch on the cut edges to prevent additional fraying. Also helps keep all those messy threads from coming loose from the fabric and tangling when you pull it out from the wash. It IS a pain in the butt to do this extra step (and a waste of sewing thread in my opinion) but when I don't do it, I hate pulling out the fabric from the wash. Maybe with the safety pin trick it won't be an issue anymore.

Thanks Jenny!

PS. I agree, that is a cute gingham dress!

lesliewar said...

I can't wait to try that saftey pin trick! I'm so impatient about pre-washing fabrics too. Not having as much ironing would make it that much less annoying.

Lucys Place said...

You are wonderful to be taking your precious time to write these articles so other's sewing may prosper.

Oh, can I have your hair please? Gorgeous film date photos!

stephanie said...

i can never hear this advice enough!! i never used to pre wash because i made mostly home stuff..handbags, potholders, etc. but now that i am venturing into clothes...i totally see the need to pre wash...and i am finally doing it! thanks!

Collins said...

Thank you. I always wash, but never three times. With three kids I do so much laundry anyway, so I'm going to start this. Great safety pin advice, I hate all those wrinkles.

Hyena In Petticoats said...

Hi Jenny,

I'm loving the sewing tips Fridays - you always seem to post things that are absolutely relevant to what I'm trying to learn - I especially love the simple pattern drafting tutorials - trying to teach yourself pattern drafting is quite complex!

Your clothes always come out so realised and gorgeous - even in the photos I can tell that the finish is impeccable - you inspire me to keep trying, so thank you!

Leah xxx

habitual said...

My Mom always told me to machine baste the ends, but it seemed like such a hassle! I guess I'm a lazy sewer! I've been buying and washing lots of fabric lately and enjoying the giant wads as they tumble out of the drying. I find the ironing of fabric very relaxing. But ironing clothes? Not so much.

Loving your sewing tip Fridays!!!!

Samantha said...

Thanks for the tip! I'm loving your sewing pointers.