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Sewing Tips: Pre-Washing

The holidays seem to have treated many of you very well. I have heard many of you say that you received new sewing machines, silhouette’s, sergers, and/or sewing tools of some sort for Christmas.  Or for Hannakuh or Three Kings Day, etc.  Whatever the occasion………..Hooray!  And with that has come many questions in my inbox.  Most of them are sewing questions.
I have a sewing tips category under the tutorials tab up at the top of the blog, found here.  But there are always more questions.  And now seems like a great time to add to that category.  Because there are lots and lots and lots of questions right now.  Which I love.  Because that means many of you are cracking those new machines out of the boxes and gearing up for new projects.
Now the disclaimer.
Whenever I receive questions……………well, I chuckle to myself.  Because who am I to answer your questions?  I’m no pro.  Honest.  So keep in mind, that whatever I share on here, whatever advice I bubble out with……’s only from this gal’s experience.  Nothing more.  Whew.  But if it helps you out……perfect.  And if you know more about it, please share in the comment section.  Deal?
Onto the tips……
I get asked a lot about pre-washing.  It seems to really puzzle some of you whether it’s necessary or not.  So it must be shared as one great big post.  How I feel about it, anyway.
If you’re anything like me, you head to the fabric store (or online store) looking for one yard of a certain texture and color of fabric……
And you come home with this………..
Yummy fabric, yummy colors, yummy sales.  It really makes a seamstress happy.
So my advice is yes, wash all of your fabrics, before cutting them up to sew with.   Machine wash, hand wash, machine dry, hang dry………whatever the washing instructions are for that particular fabric.
Right when you bring them home.
Don’t wait until it’s time to begin making your project…….or you may forget.  Or even run out of time.
The pile of fabrics shown above is all 100% cotton, and cotton is notorious for shrinking.
So for sure throw those cottons (or cotton blends) in the washing machine………
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Then in the dryer………….
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And then you’ll see, yep, it has all shrunk up and shriveled a bit.  (Not a ton.  Don’t worry about it shrinking several inches all around.  I’d say maybe a 1/4-1/2 inch on a full yard of fabric.  Depends on the quality of the fabric.)
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And don’t worry, frayed edges are normal.  And inevitable.  Just trim off any long strings that get all tangled together…..but don’t worry about those little frayed edges until you start cutting out pieces for your project.
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And then iron/steam your fabric flat.

This step helps a ton if you really want to be precise before cutting out your pattern pieces or begin working on your next project.  It flattens the fabric back out and gives it a crisp look again.  Such an important step.

(I admit, I don’t do this every time.  It just depends on what I’m making.  But it sure makes a big difference if you’re putting pattern pieces together.  Or measuring in any way.)

And then iron throughout your project.  Iron seams flat, iron flaps shut, iron curves flat, etc.
Ironing increases the loveliness of your project, guaranteed.

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So just be sure to check out the washing instructions (located on the bolt of fabric) before buying your fabric.  And then pre-wash that fabric.
Now for a “tell-the-truth” moment.
I don’t always pre-wash before a project.  Even my cottons.  If I am in a hurry or just antsy to get started…….I just make the item a tad bigger and expect it to shrink a bit in the washer/dryer.  For example:  If I am making a gathered skirt for my little girl in 100% cotton, I don’t worry about adding extra fabric to the width because I am gathering it in and it won’t make a difference, but I add an extra 1/2 inch (or even an inch) to the length, just to be sure it doesn’t shrink up too short….decreasing the life of the skirt in her wardrobe.
That’s the truth.  But is more risky.
But my real, non-discouraging, advice?
Always pre-wash.
And if you do it right when you bring your lovely stack of fabrics home……they’ll be all ready to sew with once you begin your project a few days/weeks/months later.  A good habit to get into.
Any other basic sewing questions you have?
I have a list of things I’ll be sharing throughout the next several months……..but if you are itching to ask something, leave a comment.  And I’ll try to answer it in one of the upcoming sewing tips posts.
But no promises of when I’ll get it answered……remember I have this little baby plumping up inside of this tummy of mine. She’s almost done cooking.
Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  2. Janet says:

    For cottons, I was taught this way by my mother and grandmother:

    Place the fabric, still in its original folds from the store, in the sink. Fill the sink with hot water, submerging the fabric so that all of it is wet. Let sit until the water is cold. Remove the fabric from the water, pressing out excess. Hang outside on the line or indoors on the shower rod and let dry.

    This method results in few if any frays. You can press the fabric if you feel the need but often I do not bother. The fabric stays nearly smooth.

  3. Erin says:

    I trick I have learned is to prewash/preshrink my fabics in garment bags like you use for lingerie. It helps a lot with fraying. Also if you don’t have time to prewash then steam iron all your seams which causes them to shrink.

  4. Lynko says:

    After pre washing your fabric, what setting should the iron be on for flannel or polyester? I am new to sewing. Thank you for any information you can provide.

  5. Barb says:

    Can anyone tell me at which temperature I should wash and dry the canvas fabric I am using to make my daughter a corset for Halloween? I have finished the mock-ups and custom-sized the pattern to her body shape, so now my project can begin.

  6. Jen says:


    I just found your site through googling “Forgot to prewash cotton before sewing” because… well, I forgot to prewash cotton for my daughter’s dress. I’m just hoping and praying I don’t have any issues. You’ve encouraged me, though. Maybe it won’t turn out so badly, after all!

  7. Kendra Leigh says:

    I’m so happy I found this site! I’ve never seen in my life, but have been wanting to make a quilt for years! My boyfriend bought me an amazing sewing machine and I’m starting my first quilt finally! I’m making a rag quilt with flannel, flannel lining and minky backing. I prewashed and dried all my fabric and the patterns flannel were really hard to cut as they’re kinda mishaped a little. Any secrets on how to keep its shape? They’re little owls, so it would be very noticeable if they were of set and a little diagonal. Thanks to everyone for posting! I’ve learned a lot from you all! :-)

  8. Pipistrelle says:

    I’ve just found your site, and I’m going to bookmark it, it does look useful!
    Currently I’m working on some curtains, and the fabric needs cleaning as muddy dogs got top close. The fabric is hand wash only, but there is 7 meters of it. Can anyone recommend anything for handling that much fabric please?

  9. Deborah says:

    Hi, Just wanted you to know how thankful I am for your tutorial boys vest. I could not wrap my brain around the instructions and patterns that I was reading until I happened upon your website. It was sooo easy to understand! I ended up making two safari vests for my grandchildren. Thanks again!

  10. KyLee says:

    Thanks for the tips. :)

  11. peasquared says:

    Hi, I’m so happy to have found your blog!! very helpful! i was wondering if you just prewash for just cotton/cotton blend fabrics or all? well, not all, but i have some minky that i’ll be using and was wondering if i should prewash that too. thanks so much!!

    1. Rose says:

      I believe minky is polyester. I did prewash my minky, but not for shrinkage–just to get it clean for my project. I do not think it shrunk any. Usually cottons will shrink, but polyester not so much (if at all). However, flannel shrinks like crazy!! ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS preshrink flannel. Flannel shrinks worse than regular cotton, and different lines seem to shrink up differently. Good luck!

  12. Sarah G. says:

    What is the water temperature in washing machine for pre-wash and dryer temperature for the cotton fabrics?

  13. Lift Derm Skin Care says:

    It’s remarkable for me to have a web site, which is useful designed for my know-how. thanks admin

  14. Ammi says:

    May have been mentioned before-I use SHOUT towels saves the bleeding every time! They last forever!

  15. kimr says:

    I have heard mixed responses in terms of prewashing. What do you do when you use charm packs and other precuts? I can’t really see washing them when they are only 5″ square–wont’ most of it unravel, or stretch?

    1. Rose says:

      I have read that a salad spinner works. I guess you could air dry or iron dry your small precuts. Good luck!

  16. Karin says:

    Great tips!! The ONE exception to the rule that I’ve found: DON’T PRE-WASH PUL (waterproof material used in making wet bags, diaper covers, etc.). It has no benefit to pre-washing, and you can’t iron it. It doesn’t shrink or bleed, though, so you’re good to go! But other than that I ALWAYS pre-wash because of the same examples noted above.

    PS- Love love love the blog!!

  17. MB says:

    Does anyone know if a water softening system effects the dye in fabrics. I have bought the same material twice from 2 different stores and they continue to fade. (Black with White pokadots)

  18. Gloria says:

    I learned this in high school when I took a sewing class:
    You can prewash the material and dry or

    You can “stretch” the material slightly from opposite corners, stretching all four corners. Work your way from the corners to the center of the fabric. Has anyone done this instead of prewashing? I’m one to get started right away, and this is easier for me and never had a problem with it.

  19. Lauren says:

    As a beginner sewist, this post was EXTREMELY helpful to me, I even blogged about it and tried an experiment with different prep for my raw edges. You can check it out by following the link below. Thanks, Ashley, for posting!

  20. Anna says:

    My aunt made some lovely tablecloths, aprons, and tea towels for my sister and I’s apartment as Christmas gifts. We started using them right away, but of course they get dirty pretty fast in the kitchen and we soon washed them. She is a quilter and fabric crafter, and chose some very pretty and bright cotton prints that look great with our bright yellow kitchen. But she obviously didn’t prewash because thinks came out all shrunken and puckered along the trims. My favorite table cloth is a looser canvas style woven and it shrunk up several inches, and since it was a circle and shrunk mainly in one direction, it is now an oval.

    Moral of the story is always prewash. Anything that could possibly get dirty, someone might want to eventually wash someday, so it is safer to have the whole fabric stash washed and ready. If you like that nice crisp feeling, you can get that again by ironing.

    Regarding vinegar: it helps set dye more if you soak the item in the sink with a ton of vinegar added (I did some red doll clothes in it straight recently. I would recommend this for bright trim, esp natural fibers). But I have heard adding a cup or salt or a cup of vinegar to the hot water rinse can help. When I dye fabrics at home I think the dryer on high also helps to set the dye. Apparently vinegar or baking soda in the wash or rinse cycle is a great fabric softener that leaves no residue and can help remove sizing even better than detergent. I know lots of people who prewash twice with just that, and no detergent or dryer sheet. Going to try that tonight.

    If you do have fabric bleed, soaking the tinted fabric in a sink full of oxyclean will work miracles! Whites can soak for hours, just be sure to watch over your brights or prints for fading (it says it’s color safe, but at a certain point they will fade a tad). Oxy got the pink right out of my whites after a new red sock got in the load!

  21. Marilynn Curtis says:

    I need assistance, especially after reading that I need to prewash the fabric. I am making a crib set for my first grandchild due in 9 weeks. To buy the quilt, bedskirt and bumper is almost $500, Picket Fence ensemble, so I ordered the fabrics from and now I have a dilemma. The main fabric, a Suzani print came in one piece, 8 yards. How do I wash something so large or should I cut the pieces with a little extra and then wash it? This fabric also must be air dried and I cannot air dry 8 yards of 54″ wide fabric. Please advise. I haven’t sewn in 30 years and this is ambitious for me. Thank you.

    1. Bonnie says:

      I am by no means an expert, but my friend who is a seamstress taught me this…and it has worked quite nicely for me: When pre-washing a great length of fabric, fold it into a manageable size and pin one length of the fabric together with large safety pins so it will remain in a folded formation when laundering. She taught me to run it through a rinse cycle and then dry on low/medium heat. I hope you find this helpful.

    2. Victoria says:

      Thank you so much for this comment! I’ve been looking all over the internet for just that information! You have no idea how happy I am right now!

  22. Naomi says:

    Before I wash my new fabrics, I always serge the cut ends of any that will fray. It’s no fun to pull all that fabric out of the washer and dryer all tangled up with miles of frays.

  23. Mikayla says:

    Where do you go to buy fabric online?

    1. Anonymous says:

  24. Rachel says:

    You can use a washable fabric marker or pencil to write washing and care instructions on fabric. I do this if I know it might be awhile before I use the fabric and then I’m not guessing how to clean it once it’s a finished garment. Great tutorials on your blog!

  25. Becky says:

    HI!! So I found your blog this weekend when I was needing help figuring out how to do shirring with my brother sewing machine – LOVE your blog and have been scouring it over for tips. You’re amazing!! I’m really on the look out for tips related to cutting and prepping fabric for projects – there are so many techniques and tips and tricks that I feel like I’m not aware of so I’m hoping to gain a lot of good info!!

    Thanks so much!

  26. Susan says:

    I pre-wash my 1/8 yard and other small pieces in a lingerie bag.

  27. Jody says:

    I am not use to denim and I just bought denim to make my twin grandaughts it is a summer pattern but I thought I would use it with a denim I guess is considered 10, I will make a top and pants with ruffle, for christmas.I am thinking about lining the shirt with a nice soft 100% cotton fabric. Need your feed back soon as to is this all right to do. I thought about It before I bought and got to the store to purchase material and decided to by this as the denim was not light weight and not too heavy. I am going to preshrink as I do for when I make a quilt, soak it for 15 minutes and continue through a rince cycle. Is all of what I told you corret.

    Thank You

  28. lizzie says:

    I live in a small town and I am sick and tired of only having one fabric store to choose from. Do you recommend any online fabric stores that you are pleased with?

  29. Anna says:

    I realize this comment will be at the VERY bottom of all those others and maybe skipped but I wanted to share my thoughts and experience about pre washing. If you’re going to make a quilt, consider carefully whether or not you want to prewash. I started out ALWAYS washing the fabrics I bought, including the popular quilting cut called a fat quarter (18″x22″) then I was so excited when I found a pattern that called for fat quarters. I pulled 10 FQs out of my stash that had been prewashed and realized they were 17×21 inches after I washed them. Sort of difficult to cut a square 18″ square when you fabric isn’t even 18″ to start with. And with SO many patterns being written for use with precut fabrics, I just decided to wash AFTER the project is complete. ALSO, there are precut fabrics such as charms (5″ squares) or Jelly Rolls (2 1/2″ strips) that are so small you can’t possibly wash them without them ravelling all away. So here’s the rule, if you are using precuts and you use other fabric for sashing, don’t wash it until the project is done. If you wash anything in the quilt, wash ALL of the fabric so that it is all preshrunk. I hope that makes sense, from a quilter’s viewpoint. Thanks for sharing this post and all your other great tips.

    1. Rose says:

      I was wondering how much a fat quarter would shrink up! I am going to make a quilt with regular yardage, but I am going to use some fat quarters for sashing. I planned on prewashing the yardage, but was unsure about the FQ. The reason I decided to wash the regular yardage is because of shrinkage (obviously), but sometimes the fabric gets pulled out of whack and is wound up on the bolt at a diagonal (even though it looks straight when you buy it). Numerous times my “straight” fabric came out of the dryer on a diagonal slant (the woman at the cutting counter at Joann’s told me sometimes that happens when the fabric is not rolled on the bolt correctly). I also recall reading that you can handwash your precuts (charms, layer cakes, etc.) and spin them dry in a salad spinner. I guess this reduces those tangled threads. Perhaps after spinning most of the water out, you could throw it in the dryer for maximum preshrinking, line-dry them, or iron them dry. Lastly, I am prewashing my cottons first because I am going to quilt them to a fleece backing, and fleece does not shrink. I would not want any goofy puckering as a result of my contrasting materials. Thank you for all your tips!

  30. Ashley says:

    The orange damask is: Joel Dewberry, rose damask in orange

    The blue polka dot is: Michael Miller, Ta Dot

    The red polka dot is: Amy Butler, Lotus Full Moon Polka Dot Cherry

    The Black fabric I got at Hobby Lobby

    The Green was a clearance fabric at WalMart

    Hope that helps!

  31. lulalola says:

    I am so excited to have found your blog! I got a new sewing machine/monogramming combo for my birthday and know virtually nothing! I've got you bookmarked!
    Hooray for prewashing! lol

  32. Fortune Cookies says:

    I have a blanket with one of the fabrics shown here…Can I ask where you purchased the fabric at?!?!

  33. Peggy says:

    With the exception of wool, I have always prewahsed my fabric, even silks. If I am going to spend all that time and money to make something, I don't think it's worth risking shrinkage, bleeding, etc. I used to make all of my own clothes and was never disappointed taking the extra time to do this, even when I had to go to a laundry mat. I also went the extra mile and dry ironed my patterns (depending on the fit of the garment).

  34. Kim-the-girl says:

    I don't always prewash, but I DO like to get the fabric wet in the sink or tub and then throw it in the dryer… that way I don't have to wait through a whole wash cycle first… every extra minute counts, right?

  35. Anne says:

    Sometimes I cut the edges of the fabric with pinking shears before throwing them in the wash so they won't fray quite as much (but fraying is inevitable!).

    And I bought that same black, white, and red fabric at the bottom of the pile last month and used it to make a sewing caddy for my sister! I still have some left so I'm hoarding it for something for myself later down the road. :o) Thanks for the tips!

  36. Lisa Hathaway says:

    I didn't read all the comments, so if someone else said this – sorry!

    My mom always prewashes her fabrics and to save on the fraying business (because some fabrics fray HORRIBLY and some not at all) she serges the cut edges of her fabrics before washing. I don't have a serger, so I do a big zig-zag stitch down the edge of mine.

  37. Bridgette says:

    I've never pre-washed my fabric, but I guess I'm gonna have to start…

  38. Carrie says:

    Cutting and measuring. PLEASE help, I know it seems so simple but how to you cut a straight line? What do you line it up with? Thanks so much!

  39. Amanda says:

    What is the best way to store/organize fabric? I have a tiny house (read: no sewing/crafting space except the kitchen table.) and really need some tips for organization.

  40. java diva says:

    I strongly encourage pre-washing bc of the chemicals on the fabric. My children have reactions to new clothing if I don't wash it first!
    Manufacturers put formaldehyde on fabric to keep bugs from eating it. Nice, huh?
    So I prewash from now on. AND I had read a little tidbit about snipping the corners on the fabric before throwing it in the washer, something about keeping it from fraying badly. Can't wait to try that.

    1. Chloe says:

      Another way to prevent fraying and snags when prewashing/drying is to serge the selvages. It is a simple way to keep delicate fabrics from getting damaged.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for post, I have certainly regretted not pre-washing new fabrics in the past. On the colour fading, I read somewhere that adding black pepper (powdered type) to the detergent could reduce this as well, I tend to do it for high colour washes. Not sure how much it helps, but my clothes don't tend to fade that much before they wear out.

  42. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the tips! I am just reorganising my craft cupboard and my mountain of fabric. It is always a mess, and I like to have things tidy. Do you have any tips for ways to store fabric, so when you rummage through you don't have to refold everything??!!!

  43. the hatch batch says:

    I have so very rarely pre-washed in the past. After having a nightgown out of knit shrink up about 6 inches, I learned my lesson!! I'm really looking forward to the sewing tips!

  44. Barbara says:

    Thanks so much for all your advice, I have a freshly bought pile that I need to wash – wish all of this rain and flooding would stop long enough for it to dry though :(

  45. Suzie Bee says:

    I've never pre-washed anything, and I've never had any problems, but then I am rather gung ho about these things and know I ought to be more methodical.

  46. NunuBelle says:

    I agree with Tasha about doing a post on cutting straight lines! I have such a problem with that. It takes me forever and i have to measure and draw the lines several times before i cut, and even then they come out slightly crooked! Cutting squares and rectangles are my nightmare.
    Also, as for ironing.. why does it take me FOREVER to iron something, and then even still i can't the wrinkles out?! Is it my iron? Ironing board? Or am i doing something wrong? I just dont get it! Any help with the above topics would be awesome and very much appreciated!

  47. Tamiya says:

    I have SERIOUS fabric envy!!!

  48. Tasha says:

    If you could do a post on how to cut your fabric straight that would be so great! I know that sounds dumb, but seriously, every project I do that's what I spend the most time on. No matter how I do it I always end up needing to go back and straighten it out again. Makes me crazy! Btw you're so great for sharing all your sewing knowledge! Your blog is one of the reasons I started sewing!

  49. Lizzy's Nina says:

    I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I am thrilled. I have not sewn since I was a teenager and that was about was over 25 years ago. You inspired me!! I remember more than I thought I would and have been making pillows for my handicapped Grand-daughter like crazy.
    I am interested very much into recycling clothes.I love your blog. I have been following your blog for a long time . You advice for Lizzy's braces worked great.I had to take the fabric off because it was was falling off in places but it worked!! Thank you and Happy Healthy New Year!!

  50. kodie says:

    i am a shortcut queen and usually don't prewash. but when i have a bold colored fabric (especially anything with red!), i force myself to take the time to wash it. and i don't think you need to run them through the washer – just a quick soak will do the trick. my mom would always just let the fabric soak for a few minutes in a tub of water, then air dry and that worked for her. i usually pink my edges first, then soak them in the sink, then throw them in the dryer. with the pinking, you won't lose anything to unraveling that way.

  51. Millie says:

    Where did you get that orange and white fabric at?? It looks like a damask print or something, but I have been looking EVERYWHERE for fabric like that to use for my wedding. Please let me know!!

  52. Anonymous says:

    Do you have suggestion to how to pre-wash flannel fabric? My always came out look like it had been used.
    Thanks for all the great tips.

  53. Kristen says:

    I've gotten into the habit of prewashing. Decided to jump in on a project at Christmas. Bought fabric and came home and made a dress. The ONE time I haven't prewashed lately. And the stupid colors ran. All that hardwork for nothin'. If I had prewashed I could have saved that time. :P Stupid fabric.

  54. Erin says:

    That's so funny, I actually was just thinking about this the other day…my mom pre-washes, and I was wondering if you did too, and thought maybe someday I'd get around to leaving a comment/question…thanks for reading my mind!

  55. Kim @ NewlyWoodwards says:

    I've always heard that you can skip prewashing if you buy precuts (charm packs, etc.). Any truth to that? It never really made sense to me, but I like thinking that I can skip it. ;)

    1. Dee says:

      I have a steam cycle on my dryer. Using the tray that was included for drying sneakers my precuts get unfolded and run thru a seam cycle. This may not take out the sizing but does shrink the fabric without fraying.

  56. Alissa says:

    I always prewash yardage. But, not pre-cuts. I did once and it was a huge mess!

  57. Summer Lewis says:

    Another way to prevent fraying and nasty thread tangles on the end is the serge (or just zig-zag) the ends of the fabric together, so you have a loop of fabric. That's what we always did the costume shop I worked in. Granted, we were washing huge amounts of fabric and all of those loose threads could cause major frustration. After the washing you can either unpick the ends, or the faster route is to just cut it off.

  58. Miss Amy says:

    Good Tip… I always say

    "allow 10% for fabric shrinkage" especially when you are sewing with cotton.

    "wash like colors together" oh dear I have had some mishaps when I haven't… Gorgeous fabric gone pink is the usual problem!

    "double hot wash and then machine dry with natural fibers" this will make sure it shrinks on that pre-wash, then you wont have to worry about your garments shrinking after you have finished making them perfectly tailored to you!

  59. Melissa in Memphis says:

    I agree with prewashing EXCEPT if you are reupholstering something. Lets say you are recovering your kitchen chairs. Put the new fabric on the chair anyway you like. Then spritz them with water. The fabric shrinks and the chair covers are super tight.

  60. Veronica says:

    I would second the "Color Catcher" (found by your laundry materials in the store) as a fast, easy method for bleeding colors.

  61. Mama Bear says:

    I've finally got into the habit of washing fabric within a few days of buying it. Just like you said it's nice and fresh and ready to go when I am ready to sew.

    P.S. We have the same iron!

  62. Cassie says:

    My sewing machine is looping majorly on the back. I know this is a problem due to tension, but I've tried messing with the tension and it hasn't helped. I know I could take it into a pro, but I only paid $7 for the machine at a thrift store. So it seems silly to pay a pro $50 or more to fix something on my cheapy machine. Any tips?

    1. Bonnie says:

      It could very well be the thread that you are using!! I started having what appeared to be “tension” problems with a wonderful sewing machine that I had for years…I even took it to a repairman that couldn’t figure out the problem, so I got rid of it. I then purchased a rather high end machine and became quite frustrated when I experienced the exact same problem. I went back to the dealer and was told their experience showed it was the thread I was using. I purchased a better quality thread and wha-la…NO MORE ISSUES WITH THE THREAD NOT LOOPING PROPERLY UNDERNEATH!!! I hope this helps you. Unfortunately, I think if I had known this, my oldie but goodie machine would still be going strong!!

    2. Anonymous says:

      Check for dust/stray threads. Dust will get the thread all tangled up. Cłean out the bottom bobbin casing with a paint brush or the air thingy.

    3. Jeannine says:

      It may be the way that you put the bobbin in. Sometimes you have to put the bobbin in so that the thread that comes off is facing a certain way.

  63. These Are The Days says:

    I don't sew, but I have a tiny bit and never thought to prewash. Thanks for the tip before I get started on some projects. You just may have saved me some future mishaps! :)

    Check out my KITCHEN/LAUNDRY remodel today!!

    Have a fabulous week!

  64. Brett says:

    I always wash my fabric right when I bring it home. (otherwise I do get too anxious and just skip it!)
    I also trim the corners on a diagonal before washing & drying and it helps the fraying & strings so much!
    I usually separate colours when washing as well, but throw them all in the dryer together.

  65. Lil Mama Stuart says:

    what exactly does top stitching mean?

  66. Deborah in Atlanta says:

    I've always heard you should "press" your fabric and not "iron" it and that you should never use steam. I was told using stem and "ironing" caused the fabrics to stretch. And yes, I prewash my fabrics and always use a "Color Catcher" to catch any of those colors from fabrics that will fade or bleed.

  67. 'T' says:

    will you post a simple pajama pant pattern… ?

    1. Jeannine says:

      This is a simple method. I have not tried it but have seen it on various blogs.

  68. Erin says:

    Thanks for the tips! Even knowing it's the right thing to do I still hate to do it :) But I know its necessary. I just wish those pesky strings which make knots weren't such a problem. Oh, and I think I am allergic to ironing. Just sayin…

  69. Denise says:

    I just wish fabric would come pre-shrunk. :)

  70. khead44 says:

    I would love some help with invisible zippers. I can get them sewn in, but I can't seem to close the gap between the zipper and the seam I sewed normally (if that makes sense). Do I need to hand sew that? Do I need to use a different presser foot? It is kinda frustrating. Any help would be awesome. Love your blog.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Some they say to open and press the zipper before u sew it. But be careful pressing as it can burn the teeth of the zipper. But what I do is as I see I held the coil open so I get to the edge. And it’s ok.

  71. brittney says:

    To the question above about soaking in vinegar; I was talking to a lady who works at the quilt shop saying I was frustrated about my reds fading so much, she told me to soak it in vinegar before washing it. Also it helps to prevent the color from bleeding

  72. Mandy @ Sugar Bee Craft Edition says:

    I almost always prewash – – one time I didn't, and the nightgown for my daughter shrunk WAYYY up – see if I ever try to cut corners again!

  73. Karissa Jade Ferguson says:

    What about colors bleeding on each other? I always wash mine separately but it looks like you don't. Am I just wasting time and water?

    1. Anonymous says:

      If you have bold colors like red, orange, navy, etc it would be a god idea to soak them each by themselves in cold water with vinegar. I do mine overnight , that’s what my mom did. This sets the colors so they don’t Then rinse them out until the water is clear and then go ahead and wash in cold water with like colors and all should be good.

  74. Allie says:

    Thanks for the sewing tips I love them! I need help with cutting fabric. I always struggle with cutting fabric the exact measurement I need it. Like if I'm making a large square blanket how do you cut it so the front and back pieces are the exact same size. I'm probably making it harder then I need to but just curious if theres some good tips to cutting your fabric. Thanks!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Y not cutting them same time??? Wouldn’t it be the same?? And if u a joining pc seperately once u finish one side put the other one on the top and trim it to fit the other

  75. tinajo says:

    My mother always said that I had to zig-zag before prewashing, so I actually do that even though it feels terrible boring. Less fraying though, but OH so boring…

    1. Dana says:

      I wondered about that. That’s what my mom always had me do too and I really really really hate doing it. It does help with the fraying but I wonder if it is really necessary?

  76. Teesha says:

    Totally unrelated to the topic of your post but do you follow any photography blogs? I love the quality of the pictures that you take and I have a camera very similar to the one that you use but my pictures come out more like those from a point and shoot. Any tips or recommendations? I can't wait to see what you are doing with your snow days! We are covered here in SC!

  77. Emily says:

    Any advice on prewashing dry clean only material? I've been avoiding it (mostly b/c I hate spending money on dry cleaning). You can also you pinking shears or serge the edges of your fabric before washing it if you don't want the strings. On projects I care about I definitely prewash. On experimental things or stuff that doesn't really matter, I don't prewash. I also don't prewash fleece b/c I don't like how pilly it gets and it doesn't shrink.

    1. ERIN says:

      I need this question answered too!

    2. Rose says:

      Twenty-some years ago I bought dry-clean only fabric from Joann’s to make several sets of floor-length curtains. I loved the fabric (I still do!!) but I really did not want to be bothered with having to haul all those curtains to the cleaners. After I brought home the fabric (it was yards and yards and yards of a gorgeous print), I washed it on a normal wash cycle and threw it in the dryer at a normal heat setting (to simulate a “future” washing), then ironed it flat again. It was a huge ordeal, but I am so glad I went through the trouble. Yes, the material did shrink. However, I was able to make my curtains with no worries that they would shrink after I sewed them. So yes, you CAN machine wash dry-clean only material; just be mindful that it will shrink. Buy additional yardage to offset the shrinkage. Happy sewing!!

    3. Pam says:

      Rose – Did you cut the fabric before washing or just wash one large piece? I have 15 yards I want to wash, but wonder how it will do to leave it one piece. Thank you.

    4. denise says:

      Same question! I also have 15 yards to be made into 4 curtain panels and I was going to skip prewashing since they will always be dry cleaned. Curious on how 15 continuous yards would handle the washing machine!

    5. Debra says:

      I’m sitting on 10 yards of faberic wondering the same thing. How am I gonna to wash, dry, and Iron that much continuous faberic?

    6. Elizabeth says:

      I recently made drapes for two windows, floor-to-ceiling length with 9.5 foot ceilings. In total, I purchased about 15 yards so that I’d have lots of extra fabric, and I put the whole length of fabric through the washing machine and dryer. I was pleasantly surprised that it did not tangle or get unreasonably twisted in either cycle. I did open the dryer once mid-cycle to make sure it hadn’t twisted itself into a ball, but that was the only extra precaution I took. This fabric was a machine washable velvet, which did not need to be ironed, but when ironing an extra-long piece of fabric in the past, I “fan fold” the fabric on either side of my ironing board, which has worked fairly well.

  78. mtnhomequilter says:

    I am no expert on this subject, but I will let y'all know what I've done in the past. I worked at a fabric store for 3 years and worked with ALL types of fabrics. When I buy fabrics, I sort them by color or type, then typically throw them in with the regular laundry. I LOVE to dry them outside on a nice hot day on the clothesline. Darks in the shade, lights in the sun. They ravel much less, wrinkle much less, and just smell so dang good when they come off the line. Plus they look so pretty hanging there. Knits love to hang dry too. If you don't have a clothesline you can take the wet fabric out of the washer and iron it dry too. I would only recommend that with quilting cottons, heavier fabrics don't do as well. Now if you have denim fabrics, do them SEPARATELY! They have a ridiculous amount of dye in them and it will run in to other fabrics or clothing. I know this from experience when my old jeans turned a strange new shade of blue one day. Lesson learned. And no the vinegar doesn't work that well with denims. As far as the sizing in fabrics, yes it needs washed out first, plus I always liked to wash out what I called "road dirt" from the fabric stores. How many times had that fabric been handled before me? You'd be surprised. I just like a clean crisp piece of fabric when I start a new project. And for Marlie, a pillowcase is a good first project. Happy washing!

  79. Beverly Tank says:

    I always prewash. One time I had purchased 3 different fabrics, all from the same line, of quilting fabric for some nursing covers. After I dried it, I noticed one of the pieces had shrunk a good 4 to 6 inches, and it was unusable for my project. When I took it back to Joanns, the manager claimed that was normal and did not want to replace the piece for me since it had been washed, but I was finally able to work it out with her. I have never had anything shrink that much, and the other 2 pieces did not shrink like that either, but just beware that it is possible.

  80. Nichole says:

    thanks for the tips! I am a beginner and I got too excited and cut my fabric for a slipcover before I washed it! But I caught myslef and I think it will still turn out fine.

    how far along are you? I am expecting too and our baby girl is due Feb. 15 so I've been trying to work on my sewing skills with projects for her room :) I decorated a clock with the cloth rosettes I saw on your site and everyone has loved it!

  81. Emily @ Merrypad says:

    Good tip! Thank you for sharing (as I embark on a series of sewing projects)…

  82. Lara says:

    Great tip! Thanks. I was wondering how do you get the sides of the fabric straight when your getting ready to cut things out for a quilt?

  83. latoya Irby says:

    I wash most of my fabrics like you mentioned, but occasionally I skip it if I know the fabric is going in a project that will never be washed, e.g. a wall hanging. And because I need to save energy and water around here, I wash fabrics with a similar load of laundry.

  84. Char @ Crap I've Made says:

    What is the name/make/whatever of that orange fabric? Pretty sure I NEED some!

  85. Marlie @ Crafting, Cooking, and Cats says:

    Thanks! I think I'm finally getting ready to make my first project and totally wouldn't have thought to do this. Do you have a suggestion for a good first sewing project?

  86. Brandy says:

    Sometimes I put vinegar in the water because I've heard it holds the color in. Has anyone else heard that?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yes it’s true. I heard it too

  87. Lee Ann says:

    Thankyou so much! This always always confuses me and I never know where to start. I am waiting on some yummt fabric coming through my door any day so I will be sure to wash it as soon as it gets here! x

  88. Kristi says:

    I'm kind of like you – I know I should prewash – but I don't always. Couple of other things I've learned over the years about prewashing.
    1. Another reason to prewash besides shrinkage is to remove the "sizing" (I think that is what it is called) that they put on fabric to make it look all nice and crisp in the stores. If you don't and you are trying to iron anything onto the fabric (interfacing, appliques, etc) they won't adhere correctly. I always prewash if interfacing or other iron-ons are involved in my project.
    2. You don't need to send the fabric through an entire wash cycle. It really just needs to get wet and then dried. Also, you don't need to use detergent or fabric softener (in fact the fabric softner can cause the same adhering problems that the sizing does). I usually just sent my fabric through a rapid wash,or whatever my shortest wash cycle is, or even just the rinse portion of a wash cylce – and then throw it in the dryer. If it isn't a lot of material, I will even just run it under a faucet or dunk it in a sink full of water until it is completely wet, wring it out and then throw it in the dryer. I'm always so impatient to get started, and anything to speed up the process is a bonus.

    1. sunshinequeen says:

      Thanks these tips are super helpful- especially about the applique stuff. I don’t really sew, but I love to use fabric to dress things up!

    2. Terri B says:

      Just to correct something that I think is a myth – I NEVER wash my fabrics first and I have been quilting 15+ years – I love batiks and hand dyes and I never have a problem with fusibles adhering to my fabrics EVER and I do alot of raw edge appliqué – perhaps you are using steam when you shouldn’t and a not reading the directions for the type of product you are using.

      I personally love when my quilts look all wrinkly and loved. My art quilts never get washed so why bother with washing when it won’t ever get washed…extra work where I’d rather be quilting rather than washing and ironing..plenty of ironing going on as I’m quilting :)

  89. Rach says:

    When I took a quilting class I was told never to pre-wash and if I did to not use softener. Then I made a quilt and I had problems with fading, and some pieces shrinking different amounts. Now I always prewash the way I intend to use the fabric.

  90. Rhadonda says:

    I prewash my fabrics for garments and a trick i learned elsewhere to avoid all the raveling is to snip of a little piece at the corner of each selvage, a diagonal clip about 1/4". Hope that makes sense. That keeps it from raveling all the way across. Works for me! Thanks.

    1. Alice says:

      At 80 plus years I’ve pre-washed many yards of fabric. I serge the cut end of the fabric to provide a clean edge for laying out pattern pieces. No frayed edges to contend with.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I tried clipping vs not clipping the edges today!! I am amazed!! No knots with the clipped corners! Thank you so much!!

  91. ShirleyC says:

    I don't prewash everything I sew, and I haven't had any major shrinkage problems yet. My DD likes the look of the new unwashed fabric in a new outfit. She handwashed all of my handmade items anyway.
    Another way to check is to cut a 3×3" square, wash and dry it, and then measure to see if has shrunk.
    I strongly recommend to iron, iron, iron when sewing. You won't get a proper size if that material isn't wrinkle free, but I'm old and picky about things like that. LOL

  92. marilise says:

    thanks , and have a happy new year hugs from Greece

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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