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Preparing the Fabric: Shrinking the Fabric

pressing photo

Pressing with a damp cloth can shrink wools and woolens.

No need to shrink your fabric before sewing if it was alreday sanforized.

Labels can be found every where stating if the fabric of a garment was stanforized.

 In 1919 Sanford L. Cluett developed a "compressive shrinkage process" that soon carried the trademark "Sanforized," named after him, the inventor of it. With that invention people could be sure when they bought a garment that it would fit them for as long as they owned it. Before that, fitting new clothes was mostly guess work, and it was certain the garment was going to shrink.

     Once you have selected the fabric to use for your next garment to make, keep in mind that most fabrics need some attention before the pattern can be laid down for cutting. Most will need to be straightened and pressed, but some will also need shrinking. Man-made fibers, such as dacron and nylon do not shrink and do not need to be washed. Of the natural fibers silk does not shrink and should not be washed. However, the very popular cotton fabric should be shrunk unless it stats on the bolt that it has been pre-shrunk. Wool and linen should be  also be shrunk using the method below.

Here are the shrinking methods for fabrics.

Fabric Type Shrinking Method
Linen or spun rayon 1. Roll up in a damp sheet, leave for a few hours, and then press carefully. OR

2. Fold fabric several times and immerse in warm water. Drip dry. Press, using a damp cloth if necessary.

Cotton Always check the bolt for information. Many cottons are treated for shrinking (example: "sanforized" but if not, treat cotton the same as linen.)
Woolens Press all over with a damp cloth.

     I'm sure you are wondering if this is what I do to all my hundreds of fabrics that are in my studio. So to answer that, no, I do not. I simply wash and dry the cotton fabrics (and some linens) and then press them. Although I do treat the woolens by pressing over a damp cloth. But I wanted you to know the process as I learned it in school too.




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