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How to Prepare Fabric for Sewing – Best Way

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Do you have a sewing pattern ready to start? From purchasing the right amount of fabric to choosing right fabric to work with, there are initial steps that my be taken in preparation before setting up your sewing machine. 

As part of these prep, consider to take care of and pre-treat your fabric prior to cutting and sewing. Not only does pretreating the material make it clean for working with, but it helps to shrink the fabric so that it still fits you even after being washed

How do you prepare fabric for sewing? Always wash and dry before cutting the fabric, then press with an iron to remove any wrinkles and creases. As a result, when pinning patterns to the fabric and cutting them out, you will get accurate measurements and the garment will fit as intended after being washed.

Making beautiful handmade clothing does not begin with sewing. First, choose the fabric that blends well with the design, otherwise your garment will appear homemade from the get go. 

After choosing the correct fabric, prepare the material for cutting requirements to take place. Pretreating the fabric will allow you to accurately measure, cut and sew the garment to fit the intended size.

In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of pre-washing fabric and how-to prepare fabric before cutting and sewing. In addition, answered below are frequently asked questions with essential tips and the best way to prepare fabric for sewing. 

Does Fabric Need to Be Washed Before Sewing

One of the most crucial steps in preparing fabric for sewing is washing. Check the instructions to ensure you don’t miss the point. 

Some fabrics like wool, silk, and wool felt shouldn’t be cleaned before sewing. Instead, consider dry cleaning clothes made up of these materials after completing the sewing project.

Pre-washing your fabric removes any dirt, chemicals, excess dye, and starch treatments from the sewing process. Use mild or homemade laundry detergent to avoid from damaging the fabrication. 

In addition, treating fabric renders it easy to handle the material when sewing and makes the yarn stronger and softens the material. Also, it can resolve the shrinkage issue and prevent it from happening later on.

Fabrics made from natural fibers tend to shrink when you wash them. Materials made of fabrics usually shrink around 5%, while materials made of natural fibers may shrink up to 10%. 

Therefore, if you fail to wash your garment before sewing, and then clean it after, it may not fit you properly because it may be too small. Trust me, its extremely disappointing to go through all the steps of making a garment from scratch just to find out i doesn’t fit after washing it. 

Why Is It Important to Soak Cloth Before Cutting and Sewing

Fabric made from natural fiber does shrink. Cotton fabrics can be label pre-washed, but even after washing it still might shrink. 

Soaking ensures that your fabric shrinks before sewing the actual garment. The last thing you want to see is your garment shrinking after washing it. 

When you soak fabric before sewing, it shrinks and releases lasting treatments, making it better for use. Treatments on fabric can make it quite stiff and hard to use. 

Soaking the fabrication assures that it will withstand its purpose when you start using it. Also, you know it won’t change its shape or color after washing.

What Are the Steps in Preparing a Fabric

Make a note of washing instructions when buying the material. Most likely, the fabric will come with cleaning instruction label from the store. 

However, instruction to wash clothes based on type of fabric is the same for fabric and finished garments. Understand the basics, and do not skip this step when making clothing from scratch.

Washing and Drying Before Cutting Your Fabric

When you wash the material prior to cutting, it allows shrinkage to set in to the fabric before starting the sewing project. Shrinking is crucial for clothing, and it will save you from spending a lot of time altering the pattern to give you a perfect fit. 

If you cut your fabric without washing, then it will shrink when you wash it after sewing. As a result, you may find it to be too tight when trying to wear it. 

Pressing Your Fabric After Cleaning

Avoid cutting wrinkled material, it is definitely worth taking extra time to get the best results. Failing to press the fabric can make it too long or short, distorting the shapes and sizes during sewing, which will cause you more headaches in the end. 

Ensure you press the pattern pieces under low temperature to avoid damaging the fabrication. If you take the fabric to dry cleaner, be sure to have it pressed. 

Ironing out creases and wrinkles smooth will make it easy for you to cut the material properly with accurate measurements. 

Finding The Grain

The durability and drape of a garment depends on the grain of woven fabrics, so be sure to find it before cutting out the fabric. 

For woven fabric, the threads run crosswise and lengthwise. Therefore, you can locate the grain by looking at the direction of fabric fibers. 

For example, the weft runs perpendicular to the hem, while the warp is parallel. Some patterns are best cut with the grain.

Pinning Fabric and Patterns

Consider laying out your pressed fabric on a flat surface and smoothen with your hands.

 Start pinning fabric to pattern by pinning two pieces of materials and inserting pins perpendicularly to the stitch line on the inner side of seam allowance. This will help protect the material from undue tension that could overstretch the material. 

Cutting The Fabric

Using sharp sewing scissors, make long and smooth cuts. Then, use small sewing shears to cut notches or clip curves to get more precise lines. 

Straighten the material grain before starting the sewing project, and make sure the selvage edges meet the bottom and top straight by folding the fabric lengthwise. 

Even though you pre-wash the fabric before cutting, improperly matching the selvage can result in uneven tension and weave throughout the fabric pieces when sewn together. 

Tips to Prepare Fabric for Sewing

Preparing fabric for sewing is important role that every sewer needs to accurately follow in order to accomplish garments that do not have any issue with shrinkage. 

Other than pre-washing and ironing, here are additional tips for you to follow in order to prepare fabric properly for your next sewing project:

  • Ensure to unfold fabric before placing it in the washing machine
  • Always wash similar colors together, or by itself to be safe, as some fabrics might contain excess dye that may end up staining the other materials. 
  • Clean a test swatch by itself, consider cutting a 10 cm square to evaluate it after pre-washing. 
  • Measure the edge before washing, and observe how it shrinks and how well it holds up after a wash.
  • Iron your pre-washed fabric and add it to your fabric library for future reference.
  • Rinse dark colors in cold water until no dye tinges the water.
  • Avoid ironing delicate fabrics, and instead lay them on a flat surface to air dry.
  • Apply fusible interfacing before sewing to assist in stabilizing the material while stitching.
  • Trim the selvage edges by laying the fabric on a cutting board and using scissors to clean the cutlines. 

Use these tips to prepare fabric for sewing to prevent from any misleading shrinkage that cannot be rescued after the garment has been assembled. Pre-wash, dry, and iron to match the grain line before cutting and sewing. 

Best Way to Prepare Fabric for Sewing

One of the best ways of preparing materials for sewing is pre-washing. First, wash and dry the material, just like you will be washing the final garment. 

For any delicate fabric, plan to hand wash. However, if you will be using a washing machine for the final garment, pre-wash the fabric using the washer. 

Consider finishing the fabric edges using a serger or zigzag stitch to protect the fabric from fraying when it is pre-washed. Also, straighten the grain of fabric since correcting the fabric grain helps the project never go out of shape when washed.

When pre-washing the material, avoid overcrowding the washing machine and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Depending on the fabric type, some require normal or gentle wash cycle and cold or warm water. Most fabrics such as cotton, flannel, and knits can shrink significantly when washed, so be aware of these fabrics.

After washing, iron out the fabric to remove any wrinkles or creases. Use the appropriate amount of heat to avoid from melting or burning the fabric surface, and that is why it is recommended to iron the wrong side fo the fabric.

Pre wash fabric for sewing

Preparing Fabric for Sewing: Conclusion

From thread to notions, there are lot to consider and gather prior to starting a new sewing project. Preparing fabric for sewing is an important step to take for every project.

Investigate the fabric type and required washing and care instructions. Pre-wash and dry fabrics before cutting the pattern pieces out, then use mild heat to press with iron and eliminate any wrinkles and creases. 

As a result, fabric shrinkage is already set in so that the garment won’t loose its shape and size when finished. Also, finding the grain of the fabric and matching before washing can prevent it from warping or becoming distorted.

Use fabric pins to pin perpendicular to the seam line on the seam allowance to protect the garment surface. Follow along the pattern pieces to cut out with precise cutline by using extra sharp scissors. 

Spending time and energy to put together new DIY clothing is super exciting, but without taking these steps to prepare fabric for sewing in advance can cost you fortune later on. Alway pre-wash your fabric before sewing so you can enjoy your finished garment with a perfect fit every time.

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