Cidell posted a timely query on the Pattern Review message boards recently about pre-treating wool. The suggestions people offered up were:
- get it steam pressed or dry cleaned at the dry cleaners
- steam press it yourself at home
- wash it on the delicate cycle and line dry
I have a few wool garments that I made last year. I didn't pre-treat the fabric, I haven't taken them in for dry cleaning yet, and now I am afraid to because I'm worried they'll shrink. I wouldn't be completely crushed, but still it would be a loss (and a gain for someone shopping at Goodwill, I suppose). So I decided to go on the offensive here and pre-treat the wools I bought earlier this week.
I took two fabrics and swung by my dry cleaners after work yesterday to get them steam pressed. The woman who has been at the counter every time I've been there for the past 4 years was not there. A different woman was working yesterday. So I plopped my fabrics on the counter, and our conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi. I'm going to use this fabric to make some garments, a coat and a dress. Should it be steam pressed first so that it won't shrink when I get the clothes dry cleaned later?
Her: Oh? You are going to sew this? You are so talented! What are you going to make?
Me: A coat and a dress. It's wool. Is dry cleaning going to shrink it if I don't have it steam pressed first?
Her: Oh I don't think so, but I'm not 100% sure. I don't think so. What are you going to make?
Me: A dress and a coat. So it's not going to shrink when it's dry cleaned?
Her: You are so talented!
I refrained from screaming "WHERE IS THE REGULAR LADY?!" and instead I just smiled, said thanks, picked up my fabric, and left.
Maybe I should have stayed and asked her to steam press the fabric, but I wasn't thinking straight.
Well, I am way too lazy to steam press the fabric myself, so I cut a few 4" x 4" swatches and threw them in the washing machine with a few other delicate cycle garments. I let them line dry overnight, and today I ironed them to get out some wrinkles.
I traced each of the swatches before washing, and you can see that they all shrunk a little bit. The good news is that the look and feel of the fabrics is unchanged. So, I guess I am going to have a little wool-washing party with these fabrics.
When I buy wool in the future, I'd do the swatch test again, because I don't think all wools are going to turn out so nice after washing.
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