With all the types of fabric blends, cleaning materials, and temperature settings, maintenance and care for fabrics can be pretty confusing and intimidating! There are some general rules such as don’t over-wash and when in doubt, use cold water, but the rules and methods of care do go a bit deeper than that… depending on the fabric, of course!
That’s why we’ve decided to create this series of care and methods for fabrics! In this series of guides, we’ll give you short and easy lists for your reference that will note qualities of the fabrics, how to wash them (or not wash them), and when it’s safe (or not!) to iron a fabric! We’ll start with a small group–the Luxury fabrics–consisting of Silk, Velvet, Wool, and Leather.
Spun from organic fibers, silk fabrics are probably one of the easier fabrics to recognize because of it’s subtle sheen and smooth texture. Silk glides over the body when worn, it drapes beautifully, and it breathes well, making it a very popular choice to wear. It’s also a natural fiber that’s strong and durable, so it will last a long time if you take good care of it! Silks also come in a large variety of prints and design due to their capacity for taking dyes well, which gives seamstresses lots of options to work with.
However, because of their organic qualities, silk fabrics can be damaged easily if you’re not careful. Generally speaking, excessive heat is a big “NO” for silks. Sunlight, direct ironing, hot water–these conditions can cause things like fading, yellowing/browning/burning, and shrinking in silks. These methods should be avoided unless the tag of your garment or fabric reads otherwise when caring for silk fabrics.
With that said, silks may be sturdy in their weaving, but due to the blends they are used in, their care requirements can vary. When it comes to silks, always make sure to consult the directions or tags for your garment or fabric, and never store silk products in direct sunlight. When it doubt, keep them dry and cool!
If you’d like to see some silk fabrics, start here!:
Did you know that velvet fabrics aren’t just one type of fabric like cotton or silk, but that they’re actually a combination of layers of different types of fabrics? This fuzzy and textured beauty is known for it’s thick and plush feel, and the wonderful stretch makes it a popular comfort fabric. It’s also a great fabric for autumn and winter because of how warm it is!
Caring for your velvet is more straight-forward than caring for silk, but it does still take a bit of work. Generally, cool water is best to clean velvet with, because keeping velvet in high temperatures can damage or shrink it. This is another fabric that you should always consult your tags or directions with for the best care methods for each individual garment or fabric of velvet.
One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you should never iron velvet.Velvet has its own unique texture, whether you’re working with crushed velvet or not, and ironing can ruin this!
To remove major wrinkles like creases and folds, use a steamer on the wrong side of the fabric. Steamers remove wrinkles quickly without ruining velvet’s texture.
If you’d like to see some velvet fabrics, start here!:
Wool fabrics are a durable and functional fabric! They’re known for their thick, scratchy layers, and they’re great at keeping you bundled up and warm in the winter. Some wools are softer, especially when blended with other fabrics, and they look best when made into jackets and other garments that require a solid shape! Mature tones and patterns are their game, and they look good with them for a reason. Wools also last a long time; they’re flame- and dirt-resistant, and they dry quickly (thanks to the natural fibers!).
Wool doesn’t need a lot of maintenance, but when it does need it, dry-cleaning is the only option. You may think that throwing it in for a quick wash will be fine, but your wool really doesn’t need it! Because wool dries quickly, it doesn’t hold onto odors or stains, and over-washing fabrics can wear them away if they’re not built to be worn down. Wool is one of these fabrics–keep it simple and take your wool to a dry cleaner only when needed!
Ironing wool takes just as little maintenance; low heat setting and on the wrong side of the fabric or garment. Ironing wool can leave iron marks, so ironing on the wrong side can help prevent these from being visible should any get left behind.
If you’d like to see some wool fabrics, start here!:
Leather is a fabric made from the skin of animals like cows, pigs, and lamb and is most notable for its tough exterior that resists wear and tear, and when treated for it, leather can be water- and fire-resistant, making it a great and long-lasting fabric to work with. A fabric this unique this requires a special kind of TLC to maintain!
Because leathers are cured with chemicals during manufacturing, they require special care or dry-cleaning in all cases. Leather is designed to look and function best when it is bone-dry, which means NO washing, steaming, or water for leathers! Excessive heat must also be avoided! Do your best to keep leather away from both extremes; store your leather fabrics and garments in cool and dry places, and if you need to get a piece of leather cleaned, take it to a specialty cleaner. It’s a bit inconvenient, but it’s necessary to keep your leathers safe!
If you must iron your leather, you can under two conditions: you must use a very, very low setting as well as a piece of heavy paper for a press cloth. Do not iron your leather directing with your clothing iron. Work slowly and carefully, and only iron as needed (which shouldn’t be often!).
If you’d like to see some leather fabrics, start here!:
That’s all for luxury fabrics! These are some of the most common fabrics used in fashion sewing, so it’s important to know how to take care of them. The last thing you want to do is ruin a beautiful fabric! Do you take good care of your fabrics? Did this article help you learn what to do for your garments when they need cleaning? If you have any stories about caring for types of fabrics, please share them with us!