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Fabric Care Guide

You spend considerable time and energy sewing your clothes, so it only makes sense to show that same kind of attention to your completed garments. Our fabrics—and your clothes—can last a lifetime with the proper care. Here are a few broad guidelines from Mood on how to properly care for your fabrics:

Test a swatch of your fabric before you cut out your pattern to determine how you’ll care for your garment after you complete it. If you want to be able to machine-wash and dry your finished garment, see what happens when you prewash a swatch that’s at least 4” by 2”. Compare the washed swatch with your untouched fabric: Do they look the same? If the swatch changed in appearance and texture after washing, can you live with those changes? Being able to throw your clothes in the washer and dryer makes life easier, but not if it comes at the cost of your fabric and hard work.

Pre-shrink fabrics before you cut your pattern, if you’re working with a fabric that can take it. Cottons and other natural fibers can shrink or bleed, which is the last thing you want to find out once you’ve finished sewing your garment. Buy another 1/8 of a yard of fabric as insurance with fabrics that shrink a lot. Some home sewers steam-shrink wools and wool blends with a hot iron or by soaking the fabric in a tub of hot water; there’s plenty of information on the internet from home sewers about various methods of pre-treating and pre-shrinking. (Just test a swatch first.)

Relying on a reputable drycleaner to care for your finished garment is one of the best things a home sewer can do. First, the dry-cleaning method allows fabrics to maintain their original look and texture. Second, the drycleaner can professionally press your garment so that any hint of homemade nearly disappears. We’ve fallen in love with some of our home-sewn garments after they’ve come back from the cleaners.

Fabric-specific care guidelines
These tips are very general and meant only to be taken as broad suggestions for the care of your fabric and garments. Always test a swatch first if you’re in doubt about a fabric’s care.

Bamboo
Machine wash cold on a gentle cycle like colors. Mild detergent with no bleach. Tumble dry low or hang dry.

 

Cotton
Machine-wash warm or cold, tumble dry. Pull straight from the dryer to prevent wrinkles, or iron while damp.

 

Linen
Dry-cleaning recommended. If you prefer to hand-wash your linen garment, test a swatch first to ensure you’re satisfied with the softer hand that will result.

 

Nylon
Most items made from nylon can be machined washed and tumbled dried at low temperatures. To minimize static electricity use a dryer sheet when machine drying. If ironing is needed, iron on a low temperature.

 

Polyester
Machine wash warm or cold, tumble-dry low. If ironing is needed, iron on a low temperature.

 

Rayon/Viscose

Drycleaning is usually preferable, but some rayons or viscoses can be hand-washed or machine-washed on delicate, cool water. Line dry. Test a swatch first.

 

Silk

Drycleaning is usually preferable, but silks can be hand-washed or machine-washed on delicate, cool water. Line dry. Test a swatch first.

 

Spandex/Lycra

Hand or machine wash in lukewarm water, line dry or tumble dry low.

 

Wool

Dry-cleaning is recommended, though some wools can take hand washing. Test a swatch first.