Saturday, 4 February 2012

To pre-wash, or not to pre-wash

Have you ever made beautiful new clothes for yourself, only to have them shrink the first time you wash them?  I have!  I've been sewing for many'd think I would have learnt to pre-wash after the first time I shrank my clothes and ruined them, but no, I've done it many times over!  Trousers that end up too short, a waistcoat with lining that shrank more than the main fabric (now that's a real mess!) skirts just a smidgen shorter than my normal standard of modesty...

I think, after all these years, I've finally got that one drummed in...

I always pre-wash my quilting fabrics too.  So many hours go into creating a quilt, it would be such a shame if you went and shrank it!  Some dies run, too, so I always check colours by putting a piece of white fabric in with the wash so that I can see if any of the dies run, especially blues and reds, they seem to be the most likely to run.

Recently, I was talking about pre-washing at a couple of different quilting shops, and the ladies behind the counter both insisted that pre-washing was not necessary, because modern, good quality quilt fabrics do not shrink.

As I have just been pre-washing all my fabrics for a new quilt project, I thought "why not test it out?"

So, I took a few pieces, measured them, then washed them and hung them out to dry.

In the interests of science, I made sure I had fabrics made by different companies, and purchased from different shops.  By the way, when I wash fabric, I prefer to dry it on a rack than outside on the line, as that way you don't get the peg-marks, or the distortion than you get with line drying.

So, in the morning, I measured again.

And the results are... (drum roll, please!)  All four fabrics had shrunk!

Prior to washing, these pieces were both 22" wide.  The apple fabric was 18 1/2" long, and the grass fabric was 20"

The fabrics had all shrunk by different amounts, they shrank in both directions, but different amounts in each direction.

So I will definitely continue to pre-wash my fabrics, no matter how much people try to convince me that it isn't necessary!


  1. I am about to embark on a sewing mission and I read about pre washing and I have been very tempted not to bother :-)
    Thanks for the good advice, I will think again.

  2. Glad to be of service! :) So much better to take the time to pre-wash than ruin all that hard work. Good luck with the sewing


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