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Why wash fabrics before sewing them ?

People often ask me why do you need to wash fabrics before sewing them ?
It is a valid question because when you by them they are nicely ironed, the selvedges are alined and they seem ready for use.

And yet fabrics ALWAYS need to be washed before working with them and there are several reasons for this :


Most fabrics shrink during their first wash. During production they are usually chemically treated to give them a nice aspect and to stiffen them. During the first wash, most of this treatment disappears and the fabric recovers its initial aspect and size. Some materials like cotton or polyester don’t shrink that much, however wool and linen considerably do. If you had sewn your garment with a unwashed fabric it would have shrunk during its first wash.

Quick tip : when you buy your fabric, add a margin to the recommended measurements to compensate the shrinking.


Fabrics come from the shop full of dust and mites. They are invisible to the naked eye but they are there ! Fabric rolls can be stored in warehouses for quite a while before being shipped to the stores.

Furthermore, for storage they are treated with anti-fungals and other chemicals that may induce allergies or irritate your skin.


Setting the color can prove useful to avoid colors rubbing off certain fabrics. A bath of cold water + white vinegar for 12 hours should fix the issue.

Last few tips before washing your fabrics :

  • If you want to avoid your fabric coming out frayed from the washing machine, you can oversew the edges before.
  • Ask for washing advice at the shop when you buy your fabrics, they are usually very knowledgeable about their products.
  • Finally, when your fabric has dried, iron them before storing them. This will help avoid unwanted creases.

You can also use our stock cards and our fabric tags that you can download for free on this website.

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