26 Jun 2015
You spend so much time and money on beautiful and vibrant fabric! Don't let it fade away!
You have some tough decisions before you sew a project. Should you pre-wash your fabrics? Can you always dry clean that quilt? How often does a tablecloth need to be washed anyway?
You buy beautiful textured garments, only to blast out the pleats and folds in the washing machine. It's aggravating!
Fix That Tap Water!
Tap water has been treated with chemicals, piped through old pipes, collected calcium along the way, and then splashes into your clothes washer. There are some home remedies that cancel out the unnatural acid and calcium in tap water.
You can use a Borax cleaner, two tablespoons of baking soda, or 1/4 tablespoon of lye. Each of these chemicals prevent the calcium and magnesium in tap water from clinging to the oils and dirt on your fabric. I go with the borax cleaner, it's fast and easiest.
Run Away from Vinegar!
Vinegar is the new green wonder cleaner, but it's not perfect for every situation. It's great at descaling tea pots, cutting through grease, basically any reason you need a mild acid. But for delicate fabric, acid is a problem, it can discolor your fabric.
Do you need to cut through grass stains on tough denim? Use all the vinegar you want.
Do you have some Irish lace? The best thing you can do is get a colorless, scentless detergent and hand wash it in slightly cold water. After that, simply set it out to dry.
There's a Trick to Drying
I've tried drying my fabric every way you can think of. Unfortunately, the way that gets the BEST results, takes the longest and takes up the most room in my house!
First air dry your fabric on an indoor line or an accordion rack. Keep it in an area that gets great ventilation. Really delicate fabric and garments need to lay flat so that the weight of the water doesn't pull them out of shape. However, when you lay them on a surface there's one side exposed to the air and the other 'sweating' against the surface. A really easy solution are bakers cooling racks! Don't use ones you bake on, because they will have built up oils and proteins on their surfaces. These racks lift the textile off the surface and let it dry uniformly.
Sun damages fabric too, just like your skin can get burnt by UV rays, your fabric colors and fibers can scorch or fade. So, keep them shaded.
The second optional step, is after it has dried, throw it in your electric dryer for, at most, 10 minutes on very low heat or fluff-dry. This softens the fibers in the fabric and gets off little hairs or threads. Don't do this for very delicate fabrics, like antique fabrics.
Before You Sew
Get to know your fabric, if it's vintage, repurposed or exotic, try and track down more information about how it was dyed.
Test out detergents, use scraps or a 1 inch strip of your new project fabric and run it through you wash, you can see color fade, and if it bleeds or frays.
When in doubt, hand wash.
Good luck with your projects and let me know if you have any amazing tips!