We all know that pre washing our fabric meterage is a good idea if not pretty much essential. It takes care of any shrinkage that may occur before we make our garments because, lets face it, the last thing we want is to go to all the trouble of crafting the perfect garment; only to find that the first time we wash it it shrinks! Gah! Been there! BUT, do you pre wash your swatches people? Like, before you even decide to buy that fabric?
The reason I ask is that I have taken to doing just that. I don’t know if I am alone in this, so chime in because I’d love to know! But here is my reasoning. When a fabric is produced there will sometimes be a “finish” or “coating” applied to the fabric at the production stage. This coating is often temporary and designed to protect the fabric whilst it is on the bolt, and during transit etc. Upon washing, the coating dissolves and this can subtly, and sometimes dramatically, change the way the fabric feels and behaves.
Well, I want to know that before I decide if a fabric is right for a project. I also want to know how much a fabric creases, how much the colour runs and how much it picks up fluff during the washing process. Because depending on the answer to those questions, I am either going to wear my finished garment. Or I’m not. I have a set of rules for a garment to make into regular rotation in my wardrobe. I have to be able to machine wash it and hang it to dry and have the majority of creases drop out without having to iron it. If a fabric does crease excessively then I think twice about buying it. If I like it enough, I might elect to make a simpler garment where ironing won’t be too much of an issue. But I have to really like it. I’m firmly in the “life’s too short” camp when it comes to day to day ironing. Fluff magnetism (yeah I gave it a name) is also a deal breaker. I have a pair of black jersey harem pants that I love but never wear outside the house because the fabric attracts dust and fluff like a demon and it looks like my legs have dandruff! Not cool! Life is also too short to defluff a garment every time you want to wear it. So it follows quite simply, that I’m not going to choose to make my garment from a fabric that doesn’t meet those criteria.
So, here is what I have taken to doing in an effort to find these things out before I get to the meterage, or worse, the finished garment stage! When the swatches arrive, I cut off the section containing the fabric details and set them aside. The remainder….goes in the wash with my laundry! Any little surprises about how a fabric responds to my “laundry lifestyle” are then out in the open and I can decide if that fabric is really right for my garment AND my lifestyle!