Why Test Fabric Shrinkage?
You may recall that I began testing some new fabric for shrinkage. For fabrics that might shrink dramatically, I do this to make sure that (1) the completed garment won’t shrink when washed (or if I have to dry clean it instead), and (2) if I will have enough of the pre-treated fabric to sew the garment that I intend to sew. If I wash and dry a swatch of the fabric and the swatch shrinks dramatically, I will have to NOT pre-wash the fabric (otherwise I probably wouldn’t have enough of it) and dry clean the completed garment (so that it won’t shrink later).
I must admit, I don’t do this for all of the fabric that I plan to sew. I generally just go ahead and pre-wash and dry all cotton and linen fabrics (unless I want to maintain the finish of the unwashed linen) with out testing a swatch. That is because, after many years of sewing, I know that these fabrics tend to not shrink much. I simply purchase an extra 1/8th yard of fabric to allow for shrinkage, and pre-wash and dry the fabric as usual.
How I Test Fabric For Shrinkage
I began testing my fabric for shrinkage by tracing around a large swatch of the fabric, on a piece of paper (Step 1). Then, since this garment is to be washed on cold and hang-dried, I put the swatch into a “delicates” bag, washed it on cold, and then laid it out flat to dry (Step 2).
I am now to Step 3, comparing the size of my washed and dried swatch to the traced outline. Here is how that looks.
As you can see, the swatch is smaller than the outline that I traced last week. Thus, I know that this fabric shrank quite a bit. Now I am concerned that it might shrink even more if I continue to wash the fabric. Further, if I wash the entire cut, I might not have enough fabric to make the garment. AAAk!
To find out if the fabric will shrink even more, I am repeating steps 1 and 2. Below, you can see what the new outline of the swatch looks like compared to the original outline.
If this swatch shrinks even more, I think I will go the dry cleaning route. I don’t want to, but I also want to make sure that I have enough fabric to make my blouse.
Southern California is having a sever drought. It has been going on for years. When I left in December of ’08, we were having a drought. And now that I am back, we are still having a drought. It’s just worse.
Apparently, roses are low-water plants and grow well on 10-minutes of drip irrigation 2x a week. Many of my neighbors have them. Here is one that I found on a recent walk.
Is That Fabric Washable?
Dry cleaning is expensive and bad for the environment, so I avoid it as much as possible. To avoid dry cleaning my clothes, I try to sew with only washable fabrics (except for wool). It turns out that many of the fabrics that I would like to sew might or might not be washable. This means that if I washed the fabric, something bad might happen to it, such as shrinking or changing the finish.
Since it would be a shame to put in all of the work (not to mention expense) necessary to make a fabulous custom-made garment and then ruin it in the wash, I test wash all of my washable and possibly washable fabrics. Here is my preferred method. I am using a fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock. You can see it on my Pinterest board here or purchase it from Linda here. This fabric is a drapey 100% viscose-rayon crepe, so it might shrink a bunch. If it does shrink, I will need to dry clean the finished garment, which will be a blouse for work.
Step 1: I cut out a swatch of the fabric. I prefer fairly large swatches, such as at least 4 or 5 inches square. If there is enough fabric, I will test an even larger swatch. The larger the swatch, the more accurate I will be when determining how much the fabric shrinks.
I then place the swatch on a sheet of paper and trace around it with a pen or pencil. When I am finished tracing the fabric, it looks something like this (below). Notice the little pencil tic lines around the edges of the swatch.
When I pick up the swatch, I have an outline of the swatch before washing. I save the outline for later.
Step 2: I wash the swatch using the method I plan on using to clean the finished garment. I would like to wash this garment on cold and then line dry. So, that’s what I will do tonight. To keep from losing it in a load of laundry, I put the swatch into a mesh bag, such as you might use for washing delicates.
Check back later this week for Step 3, when I compare the washed and dried swatch to the pre-washing swatch outline (for shrinkage) and the unwashed fabric (for changes in hand, texture).
Two months ago, my family and I moved to California. I am working as a patent agent for a cool company called Obalon Therapeutics. Obalon is located in Carlsbad, CA, which is north of San Diego. I’m SO HAPPY to be here!
Obalon makes the coolest product, a swallowable gastric balloon (the Obalon Gastric Balloon or OGB). No surgery is required to implant it, because the OGB is folded up into a little pill that the patient swallows. A small catheter is attached to the OGB, for inflation. After the patient swallows the OGB, the pill opens up and releases it. The doctor then inflates the released OGB and then pulls the catheter back out of their mouth. The inflated balloon makes the patient feel full. How cool is that?
The patient can have up to three OBGs, for up to three months. While the patient has the OBGs in his/her stomach, he/she feels more full and eats a lot less food. As a result, the patient can loose a lot of excess weight. When the treatment time is over, the OGBs are removed from the patient’s stomach using and endoscope.
There is a video from our website.
While the OGB is not currently available in the US, it is available in the Middle East and Europe. Hopefully, the OGB will be available in the US soon. The Obalon Gastric Balloon will be a real help to those who are overweight, but do not qualify for weight-loss surgery. Be alleviating some of their hunger, the OGB gives the patient a little boost in resisting temptation!
I hope to get back to sewing soon. But in the mean time, I’ll leave you with a photo of something I see most mornings on the way to work.