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Do You Need To Wash Fabric Before Sewing

If you are a sewer, then you need to learn all the tricks that revolve around sewing. You need to understand what to do when sewing to come up with a neat product. Moreover, you need to know what to do on your fabric before and after sewing to look great.

One most important thing you need to look out for is when to wash the fabric. Should you wash the fabric before sewing? This article will teach whether it is right to clean the material before sewing and how you can do it. Read on!

Do You Need to Wash the Fabric Before Sewing?

Yes. You need to wash the fabric before sewing so that it does not shrink after sewing. Technically, most materials are prone to shrinking after washing them. If you wash them after sewing them, they may not fit you well, hence washing them before sewing.

Why Wash Fabric before Sewing?

Most fabrics will require pre-washing before you run them over the machine. Well, this step may not be appealing to many, but very necessary, and skipping it may ruin your entire fabric. There are several probable reasons why you need to prewash your fabric.

Also, whether or not you need to do the washing before sewing depends on the material you are using. Here are some of the frequent reasons why you should wash the fabric before sewing.

1. To Prevent the Garment From Shrinking After Sewing

Shrinking is one of the main reasons why you need to pay close attention to washing the garment before sewing. Cotton fabric will have a shrinking percentage of about 5%, while those from natural materials shrink up to 10%.

Typically, some fabrics will shrink much more than others, but no matter the case, you need to ensure that you clean them before sewing.

Washing the fabric after sewing increases the chances of it not fitting you well as it should. To avoid this, you need to wash and dry the material before starting with your sewing the same way you wash your final garment.

2. To Remove Chemicals on the Fabric

Most fabrics will have that appealing look on them. While they look all good and vibrant, it is crucial to realize that they include many chemicals that make them look neat. The substances also help in the easy handling of the fabric, making it strong enough for sewing.

On the other hand, the chemicals on the fabric may be harmful and may cause allergic reactions to the body. As such, it can be vital to ensure that you wash them off before wearing or sewing them. Such a case is critical if your skin is sensitive.

3. To Eliminate Wrinkles

If you Wash fabric before sewing, you will be ensuring that the material has no wrinkles. The case for fabrics is usually the same as washing and drying regular clothes.

For fabrics that come in a sealed package, this should always be the first step so that you can get a smooth time sewing. A wrinkle-free fabric is much easier to press on when sewing.

4. To Prevent Colors Running

If you are dealing with a fabric with multiple colors, the colors may bleed on the fabric when you wash it. Usually, when washing new garments, there will be dyes running from the material and will fall on other parts of the fabric. While such colors may not be harmful to the body, they will make the fabric lose its color.

Washing the fabric before sewing ensures that the colors run out of the garment and that they will not tamper with the fabric color when cleaning it in the future.

However, how the colors will run on the material will depend on the type of fabric. Some materials, including nylon and polyester, do not fade as much like natural fibers.

When Should You Avoid Washing Fabric Before Swing?

While washing is a necessity for most fabrics before sewing, there are some instances where you need not wash the fabric at all. Some will require you to do some simple wiping on the material instead. Here are several cases in which you should avoid washing fabric before sewing.

1. Fabrics That Are Not Washing Machine Friendly

Some fabrics, such as those containing zips, may not be suitable for washing in a washing machine. Such and any other accessory will require only some spot cleaning and will be ready for sewing.

2. 100% Synthetic Fabrics

You need not wash them before sewing for such fabrics because they are not prone to shrinking like cotton fabrics. But if you like being keen on details and working on clean material, you can prewash the material.

3. If the Fabric Frays

If the fabric you are dealing with is prone to fraying, it is best not to wash it. You can clean the material afterward once it is secure. However, if it is a must you wash the fabric before sewing, there are several ways you can follow to prevent fraying.

4. When Dealing With Dry Clean Only Garments

If you are about to sew a fabric that requires you only to dry clean it, then you should avoid washing it before sewing. The case is the same when dealing with a fabric such as a woolen tailored jacket. For these cases, you can pre-shrink the material by steaming it and then ironing it before proceeding with the sewing.

5. When Dealing With a Denim

Pre-washing raw denim before sewing may result in forming white lines on the fabrics. Avoid washing it before sewing, and there is not much that will happen if you use it right away.

The Right Washing Methods Depending on Your Fabric

The fabric you are dealing with will dictate the kind of washing you should impose on it. Some will require you to hand wash the material, while others can still do well in a washing machine.

Moreover, the quality of the fabric differs from fabric to fabric hence the difference in the washing method. Below are various washing options for different materials.

1. Linen

You can wash linen fabric through a washing machine. If you are pre-washing it, you are looking at shrinking it as much as possible. To do this, you can wash it in a washing machine, then put it in the dryer, and it will shrink.

While putting it in a dryer is a good option, it is only viable when prewashing it. Otherwise, washing it after sewing will make the fibers break down and will also have more wrinkles.

2. Silk

You can hand wash silk using shampoo when pre-washing it. You can also use a gentle soap on it then line dry it. Moreover, you can opt to use dry cleaning if you are looking at maintaining its stiffness.

3. Cotton

Cotton is suitable for machine washing and drying it, and after this, it is best to line dry it. Line drying helps to remove wrinkles from the fabric and also makes it more appealing. Moreover, the material will be able to last longer.

4. Wool

Try hand washing or machine washing wool fabric with some gentle detergent and cool water. After this, dry it, then press it on steam to shrink the material as much. When washing wool, ensure you are gentle with it or use the gentle cycle on the washing machine.

5. Viscose

You can wash the fabric in a machine, but rather than putting it in the dryer and dry it under the sun. The reason for this is because it wrinkles a lot. If you opt to use a dryer, ensure you use a low setting, then remove it before it completely dries. Also, when ironing, use a warm iron because it can melt.

6. Acetate, acrylic, nylon, and polyester

You can machine wash and line dry or use a dryer at a low setting on these fibers. When using the dryer, ensure you remove the fabrics before they dry completely.

7. Lyocell

The fabric works well on machine washing and line drying. However, you can place it in the dryer.

How to Wash Fabric Before Sewing?

Washing fabric before sewing will require you to follow the same process as when washing regular clothes. The process is pretty easy, straightforward and will ensure that your material is ready for sewing. Here is how you do it!

Step 1: Put the Fabric in the Machine

Start by putting the fabric in the machine, and you can also add some detergent depending on the type of fabric you want to wash. Also, adding a detergent is dependent on whether the material has been sitting somewhere for long.

Step 2: Wash the Fabric

Depending on the kind of fabric, use the guidelines given to wash it. If you are using the handwashing option, ensure you are gentle on the fabric. If machine washing it, use the soft cleaning option

Step 3: Dry the Fabric

For some fabrics, you can dry them using a dryer, while others will require line drying. You should dry the material the same way you would on the final product.

What Fabrics Should You Wash Before Sewing?

Whether or not to prewash a fabric will depend on the kind of fabric. Materials such as cotton, nylon, silk, linen, and natural fibers are prone to shrinking, requiring pre-washing.

Others, such as synthetic fabrics, do not shrink, but their colors typically run out after washing. As such, you should also wash them before sewing to avoid bleeding.

Do You Use Detergents When Prewashing Fabric?

You can use gentle detergents when pre-washing fabrics. Moreover, quilt soap such as quilt wash and Orvus is also perfect for prewashing.

However, you should avoid using much soap when washing or use a quarter of what you usually use. In addition, you should also not use fabric softener on fabrics before sewing.


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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