Always pre-wash fabric before you embroider on it

comments (0) May 11th, 2008     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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The piece on the left was embroidered on pre-washed fabric. The one on the right was embroidered on unwashed cotton. That fabric will shrink when it gets laundered. Don’t let this happen to you!

The piece on the left was embroidered on pre-washed fabric. The one on the right was embroidered on unwashed cotton. That fabric will shrink when it gets laundered. Don’t let this happen to you!

Photo: Len Hasemann

I learned the hard way that it’s important to wash your fabric before you embroider. As an avid sewer, I have gotten into the habit of washing my fabric before I sew anything, but I didn’t think about it when I was working on an embroidery project. I was working on embroidering the hems on new curtains for my kitchen. Because I wasn’t going to wear them, it didn’t occur to me to pre-wash the fabric. I proudly hung up my new curtains. They looked gorgeous until I took them down to freshen them up, and I tossed them into the wash. When I took them out of the dryer, I revved up my iron to press them back into shape. Unfortunately, the fabric had shrunk and the embroidery didn’t. No matter what I did, I couldn’t press out the puckers.

Fabrics made of natural fibers tend to shrink more than synthetic fibers. In addition to shrinking fabric, pre-washing also removes sizing and dyes in the fabric. (If you wash your project after you embroider, removing the sizing and dyes in the fabric might effect the quality or color of your embroidery.)

Even things that you wouldn’t think could shrink—such as tote bags and towels—might. Why take the chance? For the best results every time, remember to throw it in the wash before you embroider!

posted in: embroidery, prewash

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