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Preparing Your Fabric

That lovely fabric you’ve just brought home from the store isn’t quite ready to cut yet. There are a few things you need to do first before you begin your sewing project.

Preshrink Your Fabric

Any machine-washable fabric with natural fibers ought to be washed. Cotton and linen both might shrink slightly the first time they are washed. Wash the fabric in the way you plan to wash the project when it is finished. Clipping the corners of the fabric through the selvage seems to keep new fabric from fraying quite as much. After it’s washed, cut away the worst of the tangled threads and shake the fabric out before putting it in the dryer, so it won’t wrinkle as badly. To prevent fraying entirely, zigzag-stitch along the cut ends of your fabric.

Hand wash-only and dry clean-only fabrics don’t need to be laundered before sewing. You will be taking special care throughout the life of the finished product to see that they don’t shrink.

Synthetic fabric will not shrink anyway, so washing is optional. Some have a crisp finish when they are new, which makes them slightly easier to work with if you don’t wash it out. However, if the fabric is slightly offgrain, that finish is going to make it impossible to straighten. In this case, you’ll have to go ahead and wash it before working

Iron Your Fabric

If your fabric is heat tolerant, you may need to iron it before you lay out your pattern or measure to cut patternless crafts. Wrinkles will make your cutting inaccurate. Choose the iron setting appropriate for your particular fabric. Some extremely wrinkled fabrics may be difficult to even test for straightness until they’ve been ironed. In that case, iron it again after you’ve straightened it to help set the new position.

Some permanent press fabrics and knits will not need to be ironed. As soon as they are straightened, they are ready to go.

And now you are ready to sew!

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