When and how to pre-wash fabric for sewing
Hey y’all, today we’re going to talk about pre-washing fabric. I see the question about whether you should prewash fabric come up often, especially amongst beginners, so today we’re going to talk about it more.
Should you prewash your fabric?
If you are sewing garments, YES you should prewash your fabric! I made the video below to show you my reasoning. If it won’t load below for some reason, you can also watch on YouTube here.
So as I said in the video, prewashing fabric is the best way to make sure that your clothes don’t shrink after you sew them. For example, you can see how much the pre-washed fabric on top shrunk compared to the same size fabric that I did not wash which is on the bottom of the stack.
You should wash the fabric the same way you plan to wash the finished garment. So if you would normally wash on cold and tumble dry low, do that. In addition to getting the shrinking out of the way, pre-washing can also remove any extra dyes that might bleed.
Quilters may not always want to prewash because sometimes the shrinkage after quilting is desired. Stitching the quilting lines and then washing will give quilts a crinkled and vintage look if the fabric shrinks a bit. Just make sure your fabric for your quilt is either all prewashed or all not pre-washed, mixing the two types of fabric is a recipe for disaster!
What if you’re worried about fabric fraying in the wash? With some fabrics like rayon challis that is a legitimate concern. In that case you have a few options.
How to Prevent Fraying When Pre-Washing Fabric
- You can use a serger to overlock the cut edges
- You can do a faux overlock stitch with a regular machine
- You can use pinking shears to cut the raw edges
- You can fold the fabric in half and align the cut edges with each other, then sew those edges together with a 1/4 inch seam. This will keep fraying to the seam allowances only. After washing, cut at the stitching line to open your fabric back up. You do lose 1/2 inch of fabric with this method.