I see this question come up about once a week in the various Facebook groups I follow.
Do you prewash your fabric? 💦💦
I cringe when I hear people say they don’t and get defiant about it and then silently make a note never to order from them…
Why is it important to wash your fabrics first?
💦 First things first, you probably want to sew with clean fabric. Or at least make sure whatever you’re making is clean. Fabric is treated with some chemical starches to ensure they roll onto the bolt cleanly and look crisp. That stuff should be washed out.
BUT, more importantly? Do you know there that yardage has been? Who all has touched it? Just take a quick trip to Joann’s and you’ll find bolts on the floor. You’ll see them piled in carts with kids and sticky (and sometimes boogery) fingers. You’ll see them sneezed on. Okay, maybe you get your fabric from small online indie shops. Awesome. Let’s hope their hands are clean, working from home.
💦 Secondly, it helps prevent colors from melting or shifting. I work with a lot of blacks and black and white prints. Sometimes when I’m ironing, the black colors will melt and smear into the lighter shades. This happens a lot on custom prints from Spoonflower, which is a natural result of their eco printing process. They recommend prewashing for a variety of reasons, too. Prewashing ensures that your don’t ruin a project halfway through all your hard work.
💦 A lesser known reason is it helps to ensure your sewing is even and pucker free. What?! Really, you didn’t realize that?
Washing not just gets the gunk out, but it preshrinks the fabrics. That means that once you cut things out, everything will stay the same and correct size. Ever wonder why your carefully steamed zipper is rippled? The steam shrunk the fabric. This is especially important if you’re using multiple layers, each fabric and/or layer could possibly shrink differently.