Should I Prewash my Fabric?

by | Sep 20, 2021

Should I prewash my fabric before cutting out?

This is one of the questions I get asked a lot.

I have 3 reasons why you should pre-wash your fabric.

1. Shrinkage

So the first point is the risk of shrinkage. If you’re working with a natural fibre fabric, such as cotton or linen, or if you’re working with viscose fabric, those fabrics tend to shrink when you wash them and you don’t want to do all the hard work of making it, cutting out, making up your garment to then have it shrink when you actually wash it after you’ve worn it.

So if you using one of these types of fabrics, I would suggest that you definitely do prewash.

I have had a disaster myself. I’ve made myself a pair of viscose trousers that were the perfect length. They are now mid-calf length. Luckily I can still wear them. I just wear them as a cropped style. But it is really frustrating when that’s not how you want them to be. And if it goes different when you wash it, if it shrinks, when you wash it, it’s really frustrating!

Should I Prewash my Fabric
Before shrinkage on the right

2. Colour Run

The second reason you should pre-wash your fabrics is if there is a risk of the colour running. Especially if your fabric is red or navy, indigo or black, those are the main colours that would tend to colour bleed. Then I would suggest pre washing your fabric before you use it.

Should I prewash my fabric

You’ll often find particularly with the navy or indigo fabric, that the colour rubs off on your fingers or your sewing machine. And if it’s coming off on your hands, it’s likely to bleed in the wash. So I would always pre-wash that as well. Particularly if you are going to be mixing it with any lighter coloured co-ordinates or trims, then you don’t want that colour run happening.

We’ve all had white underwear. That’s turned pink in the wash because there’s been a rogue red sock in the wash load. So we don’t want that to happen to our clothes that we’re spent time and effort making.

3. Chemicals in the Fabric

The third reason, I would say “yes” to pre washing your fabric is because of the chemicals that can be impregnated into the fabric as part of the manufacturing process.

When fabric is manufactured, it may have been sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, or other preservatives to make sure that it doesn’t go mouldy during shipping and storing. You don’t want those chemicals absorbed into your skin. So if you’re worried about that, and your skin health and what you absorb into your body is important to you, then I would suggest pre washing your fabrics.

The same way you would prewash shop bought clothes before you wear them.

If you are like me and as soon as you’ve got your fabric, you’re impatient and want to actually start cutting and can’t wait to get going with it. Then this is just a word of caution… for those three reasons why you should stop and wait, and prewash your fabric.

Need help choosing your fabric?

Love & Stitches

Alison xx

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