ZJ Humbach

Preshrinking Guidelines for Sewers

ZJ Humbach
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Duration:   4  mins

Preshrinking fabric prior to cutting out pattern pieces and assembling a garment or project can help ensure that the completed project does not shrink once washed. ZJ Humbach shares a great guideline for preshinking several different types of fabric.


To begin, ZJ explains what preshrinking entails and what can happen if you don’t preshrink fabric prior to making a garment or other project. She then talks about different types of fabric and explains why some of them shrink more than others. In general, natural fibers like cotton and wool shrink more than man made fabrics like rayon and polyester. For this reason, the natural fibers are focused on for these preshrinking guidelines.

ZJ talks about wool and how it should be handled in terms of preshrinking, which can include dry cleaning as opposed to washing it at home. ZJ also talks about cotton fabric, which can shrink up to three percent, and how it should be prewashed. ZJ stresses the importance of prewashing a fabric like cotton because of how much it can shrink, especially if it is being used in a garment. The next fabric ZJ recommends prewashing is flannel. This is due to the fact that flannel fabric not only shrinks, but ravels and lints as well.

Prewashing flannel fabric can cause much of that lint to come off of the fabric in the washer and dryer, as opposed to your sewing machine, which can help keep your sewing machine running smoothly longer. Zj also discusses linen fabric and how it should be prewashed as well. ZJ also shares several tips that can help when working with different fabrics, such as stay stitching the edges of the fabric prior to washing them to help cut down on raveling and distorting of fabric edges.