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.

Pre-washed Fabric

Pre-washed Fabric

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.

First And Second Outlines

First And Second Outlines

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.

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