Shrink Test

shrink

To pre-wash or not to pre-wash? That is totes the question today! Do you do it?? Personally, I so rarely pre-wash, especially if I’m making a quilt (shhh, don’t tell, sometimes even with a garment). Pre-washing adds in a lot of steps to a project and if I am feeling inspired to make something I want to do it NOW. I know some people always pre-wash, it’s like second nature to them. As soon as their fabric comes home it goes straight into the wash. This got me curious about how much I’m really risking in my act of defiance/laziness. How much is my fabric really going to shrink? So I took a swatch from each of the fabric manufactures we carry at the shop and gave ’em a whirl in the washer. The results were kind of shocking and not all results were the same.

I started with a 6 1/2 inch square of fabric and I did my best to keep everything on grain. All of the fabrics chosen are woven, quilting weight, cotton. They all went into my washing machine on cold and tumble dried low. I used a gentle detergent because, well, my skin is sensitive like that.  After the wash and dry I pressed each square very lightly just to get them flat again but not overly pressing out of shape. I’m super happy to report none of the swatches had any noticeable fading! I threw a color catcher in, just in case, since I had quite an assortment of colors, and it came out perfectly clean. Yay, no bleeding! The results of shrinking and fraying were all over the map though. There are some clear winners amongst the group!

agf

Fabric Used: AGF – Pure Elements – Empire Yellow
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/8 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal

 

andover

Fabric Used: Andover – Alison Glass – Sun Print Text – Ocean
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal

 

birch

Fabric Used: Birch Organics – Charley Harper – Nurture – Koala 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: less than 1/8 inch 
Fray Amount: Small amount but enough to have to trim

 

cloud 9

Fabric Used: Cloud 9 Organics – Rae Hoekstra – Lotus Pond – Diamonds Are Forever – Green 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 3/8 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal

 

dear stella

Fabric Used: Dear Stella – Nutmeg – Rakes – Cream 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Fray Amount: Lots of fraying along the crossgrain

 

fs-w

Fabric Used: Westminster/Free Spirit – Anna Maria Horner – Honor Roll – Overachiever – Burgundy 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/2 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 3/8= – 1/2 inch
Fray Amount: Tons along the crossgrain. About 1/2 more needs to be trimmed to get rid of all the fraying

 

mm

Fabric Used: Michael Miller – Cotton Couture Solids – Turf
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: none
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal

 

moda

Fabric Used: Moda – Sweetwater – Feed Company – Vanilla Navy
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 3/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/2 inch
Fray Amount: Minimal along grainline but lots along crossgrain

 

rk

Fabric Used: Robert Kaufman – Kona Cotton – Honeysuckle 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: not even 1/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Fray Amount: Almost none

 

timeless

Fabric Used: Timeless Treasures – Adult Novelty – Wolf – Mustard
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/2 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal but shrank kind of wonky and uneven

 

windham

Fabric Used: Windham Fabrics – Heather Ross – Far Far Away – Unicorns – Green 
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/2 inch
Fray Amount: No fraying along the grainline only the crossgrain

 

cands

Fabric Used: Cotton & Steel – Rashida Coleman-Hale – Mochi – Moon Bunnies – Navy
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 3/8 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Fray Amount: Small bit of fraying 

 

alexanderhenry

Fabric Used: Alexander Henry – Heath – Eggplant
Grainline (Warp) Shrink: 1/4 inch
Crossgrain (Weft) Shrink: 3/8 inch
Fray Amount: Very minimal

 

Although I’ve never had an issue with a quilt shrinking unevenly after it’s all made up, this little test may have converted me into being a pre-washer! What about you? Do you pre-wash? Has this post changed your mind one way or the other? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A Few Good Sewing Habits

With the start of a new year it’s the right time to start some good habits. These are some tips for new and old sewer alike.

Trim your threads as you go 

This is something I am constantly trying to train myself to do. I keep a small pair of snips at my machine to snip off close to the fabric rather then my usual habit of using my machine cutter. I love these snips in particular for this job. They are sharp and the blade curves up so you can get right on the fabric to trim your thread without making an accidental snip into the fabric. Plus, they squeeze like tweezers, so no time lost getting your fingers in the hole!  I’ll be honest, this is a really hard habit for me to build, my left hand auto piolets the fabric up to my machine thread cutter before my brain has time to think. But I’m working on it! And I’m always SO SO happy when my threads are all tidy, without having to put in extra snip work later.

Start and end with a Back Stitch

It’s really never a bad idea to backstitch. Sure, there are times it’s not 100% necessary but it won’t hurt to have some extra security on your seams. There’s nothing worse then having to go back and add in a back stitch on a stitch that is coming undone. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Change your sewing needle

Fun fact: your machine needle has a life of about 8 sewing hours. Using a dull needle can give you all kinds of greif, from skipping stitches to ruining your fabric. It’s also important to use the right type of needle for your fabric or project. When I switch my needle out for a new project but my old needle still has some life in it I use a piece of painters tape to stick it to the side of my machine. I write the type of needle and how many hours its been used on the tape. The painters tape won’t gum the needle and you won’t have to spend time trying to identify it later. I have plans to make this Needle Organizing Wallet (such a great idea!!!) but for now the tape works just fine.

Don’t point out your mistakes

I’m completely guilty of this! I’m sure we all are. I tend to follow up a compliment someone gives me on a project by pointing out a “flaw”. Just remember we are our harshest critics. Maybe you see that your seam is 1/8″ off from matching, or your stitch line went a little wonky but only you see that! Everyone else sees the big picture, and its beautiful!

Do you have any tips for good sewing habits??