Have washable fabric (as opposed to dry clean or spot clean only) that you need to pre-wash? Here’s how to do it, in 4 simple steps! By using this method you can get your fabric ready for sewing but preserve every last bit of usable fabric – you won’t lose inches in messy tangles of fraying thread on the cut edges.*
- Fold your cut edges together as neatly as possible.
- Serge or stitch the edges together – you can use a fairly small seam allowance, 3/8″ is great!
- Wash and dry the fabric just like you plan to wash the finished garment.
- Cut away the stitched edge as close to the stitching as you can. You’ve skipped thready messes and kept from losing inches of fabric that would have otherwise frayed in pre-washing!
*Before you pre-wash – a question: Do you need to pre-wash?
If you’re making a garment, pre-washing is probably a good idea. Fabric often shrinks more in length than width or vice-versa. If there’s also a lining fabric it’s even more important to prewash because in all likelihood the fabrics will each shrink differently and can wreck your project. Go ahead and wash the fabric with the same detergent, water temperature and drying cycle that you plan to use on the finished garment. You’ll get any shrinking that’s going to happen out of the way and end up with a garment that fits as well after it’s washed later as it does when you first finish it.
One group that often opts not to pre-wash? QUILTERS. Once a project is quilted some folks like the worn and crinkled sort of effect that appears when shrinkage takes hold. Unless your fabric is vintage or infused with an undesirable scent, you can opt to wait and wash after your project is finished. If you’re making a quilted item to give as a gift, you might also want to let the recipient know that you’ve chosen not to pre-wash and that the crinkly effect is a desirable one!