Thursday, 7 January 2010

Gossip Girl Dress - Pre Washing the Fabrics

It's so funny that over at Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing there is a post today on pre-treating fabrics as that's the topic I had in mind for today too! If you want to know the proper way to treat your fabrics then please head over there for some really good advice. This post is about how I do it, and some of you may not like it.

First I'd like to share a little story about why you must pretreat fabric:

Once upon a time an indie chick in her early 20's went to the Big Day Out. She needed a new dress to wear so she popped on down to her local Spotlight and bought some crinkle 'polyester' to make a quick little shift dress. The festival was the next day so she didn't wash the fabric first and, since it was polyester she figured everything would be fine...

The Big Day dawned, a very very hot day indeed and everyone at the festival was running around spraying each other with water guns and hanging out in the misting tents. She was having so much fun! Then she realised her skirt didn't finish where it used to anymore, it was a good couple of inches shorter. It kept getting shorter, and shorter until she had to spend the last two hours of the festival with her jacket tied around her waist!

Guess the fabric must have been rayon, not polyester! Needless to say that indie chick has never skipped pretreating since.

So, how do I pretreat?

First of all, start with the end in mind. How are you going to wash the finished garment? I have no room in my life for hand washing. Everything goes in the washing machine - silk, hand knits no exceptions. Well everything except winter coats, which I do have dry cleaned once or twice a year. If I'm ever lucky enough to get married I probably won't put my wedding dress in the machine either, but don't hold me to that!

So with that in mind I pretreat everything in the washing machine (except fabrics for winter coats obvs.). See, I told you you might not like it! I have never had a disaster in more than 25 years of pretreating fabrics - ever, and if I did I would rather it was at this stage than down the track when I have invested my time on top of my money. If I am being good I'll overlock the cut ends first so they don't fray and tangle up but if I'm being impatient I don't even bother with that.

Sure there is risk involved and, yes, this means I also have to pre-iron everything. Washing silk does change its finish a little, dulls it a little, but personally I don't mind that.

As this project involves dyeing it was extra important for me to pretreat the fabric, particularly because I'll be cutting some pieces before the dyeing process. I want to be very very sure there won't be any further shrinkage.

So here is where I'm at. From the left: yellow habutae for lining, silk organza for underlining and silk dupion for the shell.

Lazy? Absolutely. Brave? Maybe. Successful? Generally. Quick? Hell yeah!

Stay tuned for the dyeing process, very exciting/scary!


Tamara said...

I hate to admit it but I pretreat in the same way. I want everything to be washable so I make it so beforehand. Sure makes life easier.

Sewtellme said...

Here, here. I figure I'm doing way better than when I didn't pre-treat at all and made a ton of one-wear-wonders.

Louise said...

I hear what you're saying I pre wash everything in the machine, it's sometimes the best way especially with prints of contrast colour there's no chance of the colours running into each other if the fabric is constantly moving.

harbourmaster said...

Haha I love that story. I'm excited to see the dress! I reckon you should embellish it a bit like the Gossip Girl one, it's gorgeous.

I still have you as a reference on my resume and have been applying for jobs (and completely rudely didn't tell you, sorry!), so I apologise and rather belatedly hope that's ok!