The Importance of Pre-washing Fabric

Last year, I started pre-washing all of my fabrics.  The reason I do this is because knit fabrics tend to shrink a lot once you wash them.  So I would rather pre-shrink the fabric myself, than have an item shrink on a customer.  Also, the dyes in some fabrics will bleed, and I would rather find that out in the beginning!  I use an all natural laundry detergent that is biodegradable and doesn’t have any perfumes or dyes.  The largest fabric pieces I get are no more than 10-15 yards, so putting them in my washing machine isn’t a problem.  Now this won’t work if you need to shrink fabric that is a hundred yards long.  In that case, there are ways to draft the patterns to allow for shrinkage after they are sewn.  You have to test a square of the fabric by washing it and calculating what percentage of shrinkage occurred on the straight grain and the cross grain, and then factor that into your pattern.  Since I use so many different fabrics, that’s probably not something I would want to do, so pre-washing is the best option for me.

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