Pre-Washing Your Fabric: Pros and Cons

Craft & Design Yarncraft
Pre-Washing Your Fabric: Pros and Cons


Ask any sewing or quilting enthusiast if you really need to pre-wash your fabric and, pro or con, you’re sure to get an impassioned speech. In the same way that every knitter knows the best way to turn a heel on a sock and every embroiderer knows the secret to a perfect french knot, every experienced fabric crafter has an answer to the pre-washing question, and bone-deep conviction that her approach is definitely the correct one.

So, what’s a new fabric crafter to do? Get the facts and decide what’s best for you and your projects, of course! If you’re ready to choose sides, this handy pros and cons guide to pre-washing fabric that Angela from Fussy Cut shared on Craftsy is a great place to start.

In case you’re wondering, I fall into the anti pre-washing camp, mostly due to the fact that I live in a small Brooklyn apartment with no laundry in the building. Unless I’m working with special fabrics, I just can’t bring myself to carve a chunk out of my busy days to go sit in the laundromat for a couple of hours. For me, it’s simply not worth it.

So, what about you? Do you pre-wash your fabrics?

8 thoughts on “Pre-Washing Your Fabric: Pros and Cons

  1. rosa says:

    I tried pre washing once and didn’t like it. There was fraying and I had to iron for measuring and cutting. Plus, ultimately I love the look of slight pulling at the stitching after washing!

  2. Alison says:

    I’m a pre-washer for two reasons. 1. Colors run. And if you have a beautiful quilt of lights and darks, the last thing you want is a quilt where that pattern doesn’t stand out because your lights are darker now. 2. Different fabrics shrink different amounts, and I would hate to spend so much time working on a quilt just to have it not lay correctly because some of the fabrics shrunk up more than others.

  3. Jean B says:

    i used to wash mine as soon as it got home. but i stopped a few years ago. An instructor advised against it. i

  4. Kara Brandon says:

    It depends on the kind of sewing you’re doing. It’s not usually important to pre-wash fabric for quilted items or those that won’t be washed. It’s very important to either pre-wash or plan for the shrinkage of each different fabric if you’re making clothing. I’m too lazy to adjust my patterns for each different fabric, so I pre-wash fabric intended for clothing.

    Preventing the fraying is easy; if you don’t have a serger, you can trim the edges with pinking shears, use any overcasting stitches your sewing machine has, or even just run a line of stitching along the cut edge.

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Haley Pierson-Cox from Red-Handled Scissors is a maker of crafts, a lover of cats, an avid swearing enthusiast, a cross-stitch book author, and a general purveyor of quirk. She's also sometimes an irritable cartoon named Tiny Cranky Haley.

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