Preshrinking the Fabric

Clothing can survive for a long time if simple safeguards are taken during the production process, much like many other items we use on a regular basis. It’s not a given that if the clothing has issues, they will appear or fit worse. Fabric shrinking is one issue, though, that may turn a fantastic outfit into something hideous. Fabrics cannot be used to produce clothing without the right shrinking.

What is Meaning of Preshrinking the Fabric?

Preshrinking is actually a stage that must be completed without fail. Even though preshrinking cannot totally eliminate shrinkage, it significantly lowers the amount of residual shrinkage.

Preshrinking can minimise shrinkage depending on the fabric’s composition. On the care label, the manufacturer may, in some situations, advise dry washing to prevent shrinkage. These approaches, however, fall short since resin application decreases residual shrinkage while making the fabric less supple. The industries are also using a cutting-edge technique called the “beater approach” to control shrinkage. It is preferable to bring up the potential shrinkage issue with the manufacturer before placing an order for fabric.

When should I Pre-shrink Fabrics?

As you are already aware, pre-shrinking is done to get the fabric ready for more work. Therefore, we always do it prior to cutting the fabric. You should make it a habit to preshrink the cloth as soon as you purchase it. You can always be certain that the fabrics in your stash are ready to be cut when your fabric is pre-washed in the washing machine after it leaves the store and arrives at your sewing area.

Reasons for Preshrinking a Fabric

The two reasons why preshrinking fabric is a good idea are as follows

  • The sizing that gives fabrics their crisp appearance and feel also makes it more difficult for anything adhesive to “stick” to the fabric, such as fusible interfacing. Fabric may be cleaned by washing.

  • If the fabric has not been pre-washed, the quantity of shrinkage will affect the final garment because many textiles really shrink on their first wash.

Which Materials Ought to Be Pre-shrinked?

Regarding the various types of fabrics, some won’t shrink when washed for the first time and don’t need to be pre-shrinked before sewing, while many others will benefit from a fast wash in your washing machine. Preshrinking is always required for fabrics made of natural fibres, although it is optional for fabrics made of synthetic or man-made

The total shrinkage for cotton, which comprises denim, twill, canvas, calico, sheeting, and flannel, ranges from 10 to 16 percent, with denim and twill shrinking by 12 to 16 percent and the remaining fabrics by 10 to 14 percent. Twill and sheeting are examples of the fabric types under rayon, which shrinks between 16 and 20 percent. Ramie fabric has a shrinkage range of 8–12%, whereas a ramie/cotton blend has a range of 9–12%. The maximum shrinkage for wool, including all varieties, is between 15 and 25 percent. Fabrics made entirely of polyester and nylon experience a minimum shrinkage of 0–2 percent.

Basic Technique for Fabric Preshrinking

When fabric is washed, it often shrinks. When someone advises you to preshrink your cloth, they actually mean to wash it first before using it. Depending on your cloth, this could either imply dry cleaning or machine washing. Even if not all fabrics shrink, it is still a good idea to wash or dry clean the majority of fabrics before sewing with them to remove excess colour and other manufacturing-related chemicals.

Generally speaking, all you need to do to preshrink your fabric is wash it normally in your washing machine, dry it, and then repeat. The heat is mostly responsible for the shrinking. While using soap to preshrink your cloth is optional, I normally do so because it helps get rid of some of the chemicals and colours that have been left behind. To avoid ravelling, many individuals choose to serge the entire cut edge of their fabric before washing. Unless you are certain that your fabric, like denim, will ravel badly, this is not necessary.

Guidelines for Pre-Shrinking Fabrics Before Washing

It includes

  • Before washing, make a 14-inch (2.5 cm) diagonal clip on each corner of the fabric. This works wonders to limit any thread unravelling on woven fabrics.

  • As an alternative, you can sew or overlock the cut ends before washing to stop fraying.

  • Another choice is to pink the fabric’s cut edges with pinking shears before putting it in the washing machine.

  • To avoid the extra dye damaging other fabrics you are washing, wash all denim separately.

  • If you’re prewashing fabric that is much longer than you can handle, fold it up into a

  • manageable size and use big safety pins to hold it folded throughout the washing and drying process.
  • Hand wash sensitive fabrics with care.

  • Avoid pre-washing with fabric softener since this can alter how well fusible interfacings adhere to your fabric.

Preshrinking with an Iron

You’ll need a steam iron to preshrink fabric with an iron. You also need a pressing cloth for finer textiles like silk. Hover the iron over the fabric as it is laid out on your pressing table or ironing board (a wool ironing mat like the one pictured above also works great!). The fabric shouldn’t be in contact with the iron. To “steam” the fabric below, press the button to create the steam. Make sure to pre-shrink the entire piece of fabric in order to achieve consistency.

Preshrink Fabric by Hand

The easiest approach to preshrinking fabric by hand if you don’t have a washer or dryer is to fill a bathtub (or a large container if you don’t have a tub) with water that is the same temperature as the water you would use to wash your clothing. Next, stir the water and fabric together to ensure that the fibres are thoroughly wet. Make sure the hanging technique is appropriate for the fabric type before removing and hanging it to dry.


In conclusion, preshrinking the cloth ensures that the finished item will remain the same size as when it was sewed in. Furrowed seams can result from fabric shrinking after stitching because the seam stays intact but the fabric does not. The preshrunk-processed clothing also has wash care labels because the textile business is adamant on giving consumers the best services possible. Manufacturers are now handling the issue of fabric shrinking, so buyers can buy the item knowing there won’t be any issues down the road.

Updated on: 13-Feb-2023


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