Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Pretreat or not to Pretreat

Friday begins a three-day weekend and I've decided that during this weekend, I will make my version of the Christine Jonson Princess Dress.  I've opened the pattern envelope and read the instructions thoroughly (more on that later!)  I've touched my fabric longingly more than once...and now I'm ready to begin.

So a few days ago, I sent this message to Christine regarding pretreating the fabric:

"Hi Christine ~ I had a quick question. Do I prewash the fabric or not? I know there was a lot of discussion on whether to or not in the old Sewing World days but I didn't know if the answer had changed or not."

And here is her response:

"It is your decision as to whether or not you pre-wash the fabric. My advise is to always cut 3- 3"squares of fabric and do this test: leave one alone, press one with a hot iron and steam and "try" to shrink it, then wash and dry the other one either in the dryer or air dry flat (however you will want to care for finished garment). Then compare them to the one you did nothing to and see what happened. 

Check and compare both the lengthwise and crosswise grains to each other, usually there will be more shrinkage in the lengthwise grain. This will help you determine how to deal with the fabric and pattern sizing. 

If the swatch shrinks alot you will know to add to the length/width etc. to your pattern if you do not pre-wash the fabric. 

If nothing changes then it is a safe bet that the finished garment will not change either and you will not need to pre-wash. 

Sometimes a fabric will just "feel or look better" after washing it or maybe the edges will roll and it will be more difficult to handle. Testing the fabric ahead of time is really the only way to know how to proceed. 

The shrink/press information from the "old days" only applied to the cotton/LYCRA fabric that I offered exclusively with the original patterns. I added a bit of extra length and width to the original 6 patterns to allow for pressing shrinkage of that fabric, but now because there are so many fabulous knits with a wide variety of fiber content available I do not do that. 

I recommend doing the swatch test along with using the finished garment measurement chart and the Perfect Sizing Worksheet to guide in choosing size. 

Check out this link and read the To Wash or Not To Wash article http://cjpatterns.com/LittleBlackDress-TableofContents.htm 

I hope this helps. And, fabric content means nothing when it comes to pre washing or not. Just because one rayon/LYCRA jersey washed up beautifully with no shrinkage or ill effect does not mean the next one will not shrink 2" all the way around! Each fabric must be considered as an individual. 

So, I recommend doing this test with both of the fabrics you will be using and see what happens!"

As I told Christine in a subsequent email, that she states it best and there is no need to improve upon what she's written.  So I will be performing my swatch test tomorrow evening and I will post the results then.  I'm on my way to having a great dress, dontcha think!

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On another note, thank you to everyone who left a message, sent me an email or wrote something on their blog (Debbie) about the lack of posts here for the last two weeks.  In a nutshell, I just needed a blogging break.  I've been blogging for the last 5 1/2 years pretty steadily and when I find I need to delete a post from my blog, I would say it's time to step back and take a deep breathe.  

There are some pretty serious things happening in the world right now and especially here at home in America...so blogging nonsense is just background noise.  I hope you will continue to pray with me for the folks in Alabama, Joplin, MO, and Texas...but most especially for the people in Japan.  I know they've fallen off the newscycle here in America but I'm sure living through the rebuilding of their country is still a challenge every day!

I've been sewing while I was gone...so not only do I have the Christine Jonson dress' adventure to share with you but a few other goodies as well.

...as always, more later!

31 comments:

  1. Glad to see you're back. I look forward to seeing the finished dress and hearing all about your journey with it.

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  2. I hear you, Carolyn.

    Though I'm glad you are back, too. :)

    I am pretty firmly in the prewaash camp. Usually. I guess linen jersey might be an exception. ;)

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  3. Glad to see and hear all is well with you! I have missed your post :) And thanks for keeping the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayer, we are truly grateful!

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  4. Lovely to have you back Carolyn. Our thoughts are with you all in the UK. Your President is being received very well here and understand the Queen likes him very much!
    If you feel all 'blogged out' why not blog every other week for a little while. We know you are still there and always appreciate what you write.

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  5. I am glad you are back, I too have missed your posts.
    Although I normally prewash fabric there are times when I am a bit reluctant in case I ruin it - the 3x3" squares test is something I will definitely be doing in future.
    As Pin Queen said our thoughts here in th UK are with you - I read this morning that Oklahoma has now also been hit by tornados. Natural disasters such as these should put everything else into perspective and make people value life and each other - whatever their nationalities.
    On a lighter note I have just seen a picture of the presidents wife (at an official engagement with the Queen) and she is wearing a gorgeous white, simple but classic and elegant, evening gown. I think they are enjoying their visit.

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  6. Glad you're back. I too have missed your posts:)

    An interesting topic whether to pretreat or not. It's something I have never thought about with dressmaking. In the quilting world it is a much discussed topic but in garment making it never crossed my mind. I think the swatch test is a great idea and an exercise I will certainly try.

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  7. Before heading into school...I must say again I've missed your blogs....but totally understand and agree with your written words in your blog today. Much thought, prayers, and love need to be lifted up for the people in these latest disasters.
    Glad you're ok!
    Wow! 5 1/2 years of blogging?? There needs to be a celebration!! That's excellent!!
    Take care for now!

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  8. Welcome back Carolyn! I hope you enjoyed your rest!

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  9. Part of the reason I always pretreat my incoming fabrics is to get rid of the chemicals. I remember that ironing untreated fabric smells really awful, and wondering what chemicals I was literally cooking up.

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  10. Welcome back. I missed you too.

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  11. Yay! You're back! I wasn't worried because I had seen you commenting on my blog and others and knew you were still around the interwebs. You're right, sometimes blogging needs to fall to the wayside in favor of more important things.

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  12. Good to have you back. And I too am looking forward to whatever comes out of your sewing room, including this dress.

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  13. I'm glad you're back, too. I am also insanely excited about the long weekend (our university gives us the friday before off, too) and I am planning on spending as much time as possible in the sewing room.

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  14. I'm glad you're back but quite understand your absence, especially with all the awful things that have been happening. I am joining you in your prayers. We all love to hear from you but blogging should never be a chore. I'm looking forward to following the progress of your Christine Jonson dress.

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  15. Glad you're back and you weren't sick or something. I understand about needing a blogging break now and then, but next time could you give us a heads-up, please? You had us worried! And as far as your blogging being background noise, from my perspective, reading your blog is a nice break from all the bad news going on lately.

    Now to fabric - in my younger days, I never pre-washed. Regretted it many times but somehow it just never clicked. I guess I was too anxious to get to sewing it up! Now I always pre-wash, including "dry clean only" fabrics because I don't do dry cleaning except for very rare cases. I just chuck the whole thing in the wash - I'd rather find out it can't handle that before sewing it up. And since I'm not always the one empyting the washer during normal laundry-doing, I usually chuck it right in the dryer too.

    Thanks for putting Christine's thoughts up for us. And thanks to Christine for taking the time to write them.

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  16. Missed you Carolyn! I always prewash my fabric which ever way I am going to treat the finished garment - hand wash, machine wash & dry, or dry clean. I want to know how the fabric is going to behave before I invest my sewing time.

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  17. Glad you are back! My prayers are with all in the world who have recently suffered such tragedies, and prayers of thanksgiving for keeping those I love safe.

    As for pretreating, I've always been told to treat the fabric as I would when it's made into a garment--so washing/drycleaning first is a necessity for me.

    Congrats and thanks for 5-1/2 years of great blogging!

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  18. Like JustGail said, please just give us a heads up next blogging break so we know why you aren't blogging and that you are ok.
    I'm in the prewash camp, want no surprises later, little squares isn't going to tell me diddly.
    Enjoy your 3 day sewing weekend; looking forward to reading about all the fun you had.

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  19. So very glad to see you back. I was worried about you. This weather has been scary. And blogging makes us 'smaller' so we know everyone. Does that make sense?

    Can't wait to see your fabric to dress adventure. g

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  20. Welcome back, I know that you have been busy while you were on a blogging break. It is beyond comprehension that these weather related diasters are happening one after another. It makes me very grateful for where I live. I told everybody to slap me sllly when I complain about the heat and humidity this summer. :)

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  21. Glad to see you upa nd going again!
    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing that great tip on the 3-swatch test! I was use to the old method, but I will definitely be inplementing this from now on!
    Cam't wait to see all of your goodies you've been working on!

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  22. Yay, happy to have you back.

    This may horrify sewists everywhere but as I am kind of "survival of the fittest" in approach to my RTW laundry, I pre-treat my fabric by washing it in the same way I plan to wash the finished garment. If I want something I can throw in the dryer, I will wash and dry the fabric that way before I sew it to see if I can do all the damage I can before I start. I would rather discover problems with the fabric before I start sewing.

    Of course if it's a delicate fabric that I know can't handle that treatment I will approach the whole plan differently, but I'm generally pro pre-treating.

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  23. Yay, happy to have you back.

    This may horrify sewists everywhere but as I am kind of "survival of the fittest" in approach to my RTW laundry, I pre-treat my fabric by washing it in the same way I plan to wash the finished garment. If I want something I can throw in the dryer, I will wash and dry the fabric that way before I sew it to see if I can do all the damage I can before I start. I would rather discover problems with the fabric before I start sewing.

    Of course if it's a delicate fabric that I know can't handle that treatment I will approach the whole plan differently, but I'm generally pro pre-treating.

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  24. Glad you are well! Yes, we are living through interesting times, as the Chinese proverb says.

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  25. Glad to see you back, Carolyn :)

    Lately, I've been in the "no pretreatment" camp when it comes to knits. I find that, in general, they are just easier to handle before they've been washed. Many times I will just leave them unhemmed, and then hem after the first wash. Sometimes, I'm just plain lazy (LOL!) and hem before that first wash. I've been pretty lucky with very few surprises. Now, I also have to tell you that I wash my knit tops (of which I have many!) but NEVER put them in the dryer. I think that's why it usually works out for me.

    Just my two cents...

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  26. The Japanese have not fallen out of the Wall Street Journal, so I remember them daily, too, along with the victims of our tornadoes here. It's wonderful of you to remind us to pray for those who have lost and be thankful for what we have. Enjoy your long weekend!

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  27. We all need a blogging break! Glad you are back!

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  28. i can't wait to see how it comes out- hooray long weekend sewing mini breaks :-)

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  29. Oh, I've missed you!!!

    My motto is to wash EVERYTHING before it every hits my cutting table!

    Terri

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  30. Sometimes it is good to step away in in order to get rejuvenated. But I must admit, I'm glad to see you posting again.

    I generally prewash all my cottons and rayon jersey. I steam shrink my linens and wools. I attended the PR Weekend in Chicago. Angie Wolf, designer and guest speaker, talked about prewashing silks. I am going to try prewashing some silks. But will start with the sample first.

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  31. It's wonderful to see you back in 'blogland, Carolyn.

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