When you buy fabric at the store, it usually doesn’t come ready to be sewn on. You need to look at the information on the bolt to determine how to care for the fabric and to find out whether it has been preshrunk or not. This information should be noted before you leave the fabric store. Then, the necessary steps need to be taken in order to prepare the fabric for sewing once you get home.
How to Prepare Fabric for Sewing and Crafts: Preshrink the Fabric
The first step is to preshrink the fabric. It is important to preshrink fabric before sewing on it so that the finished sewing project will not be damaged when it gets washed. This is especially important if the fabric is going to be used for clothing. Another thing to consider is that fabric does not always shrink the same way in all directions, so preshrinking will get rid of this issue.
It is very simple to preshrink fabric – all you have to do is throw it in the laundry machine and run a cycle as you normally would. Some fabrics require dry cleaning, so check before washing.
Wash each piece of fabric separately because the excess dye can stain other fabrics. If a piece of fabric is a very dark color, you may want to pre-rinse it in the sink until the runoff water is clear, just as an added precaution.
After the fabric has been washed, dry it in the dryer. It is best to remove the fabric before it is completely dry because it will make ironing it easier. All fabric should be ironed once it has been washed so that it will lay smoothly when laying out pattern pieces or trying to make straight cuts. This will help your sewing project turn out better and more accurate.
How to Prepare Fabric for Sewing and Crafts: Straighten the Fabric Along the Crosswise Grain
Most fabrics will experience some unraveling while they are being preshrunk. If you prefer, you can sew a zigzag stitch along the edge of the cut fabric before washing to minimize this. Either way, you will probably want to straighten the grain of the fabric before you use it for a sewing project.
Straightening fabric grain is easy to do, but each type of fabric requires a different method. First, find the crosswise grain, which runs perpendicular to the selvage edge. Stripes and plaids are the easiest to find because of the print. Once you have determined the crosswise grain, use one of these three methods to straighten the grain depending on the type of fabric:
Cut fabric along a print line: If your fabric has a stripe woven into it along the crosswise grain, it is easy to just cut along the line that it creates. Many prints can be done in this fashion.
Pull a thread and cut along the mark: Fabrics that are loosely woven are the perfect candidate for this method. All you have to do is cut into the selvage edge and pull a thread from the crosswise grain. Once the thread has been successfully removed, you can cut along the line that was created by the missing thread.
Tear the fabric: Tightly woven fabrics can usually have their grain straightened by tearing. To do this, cut into the selvage edge and rip the fabric crosswise to the other selvage edge. Working quickly is usually the best method.
How to Prepare Fabric for Sewing and Crafts: Fold the Fabric
Once the fabric has been preshrunk, ironed, and straightened, it is almost ready for use. The last step is to fold it according to the directions on your pattern. Most fabrics require you to fold it with right sides together matching up the selvage edges, but this is not always the case.
Also, if you do not plan on using the fabric for a while, you’ll want to make sure it is folded up and stored neatly. This way you can avoid having to iron it again before using it on a sewing project. It will save you time, too. This is a great idea if you bought a lot of fabric at the same time.
Preshrinking fabric and preparing it for sewing is the best way to ensure a project comes out looking great and doesn’t shrink or get damaged because of washing. Use the steps above to prepare your fabric for use.