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Shrinkage and washes


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#1 nokens

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Posted 28 December 2013 - 05:00 AM

Hi guys, first post here.

 

So I'm going to go on a trip around the world I've decided to try and make my first jacket. Not a suit jacket, but a field jacket, which I do not want to baby as I probably won't have access - or time - for dry cleaners. I want to be able to throw this in the wash and dryer without the measurements changing.

 

My 1st question is this:

 

How should approach the shrinkage of the fabric? Should I wash the fabric before or after sewing it? I've read online that it takes around 3-4 washes ( I will also use the dryer each time just to be sure.) to get rid of all shrinkage if I'm using cotton, but I will wash until I record no more shrinkage.

 

This leads me to my second question. Assuming I get all the shrinkage out of the fabric, will the garment still shrink if I wash it after it is sewn?


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#2 hutch48

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 01:42 PM

Its probably wise to cut yourself a test piece, measure it accurately then wash it a number of times to see if it shrinks enough to worry about. I know people who pre-shrink fabric that they know shrinks but it will depend on the actual fabric you use. Cotton tends to stretch a little with wearing so I would not worry too much about the change in fit. For a garment of the type you describe you probably would not want it to close a fit anyway so if you make it with enough room in it I doubt you will have a problem with shrinkage.

 

I would be inclined to be fussy about how you make it, properly secure all of the edges with an overlocker so you don't get any fraying from multiple washes and design your seams so they are strong enough and done properly. A normal 120 poly-cotton thread should do the job unless you are using very heavy cotton fabric where a 75 weight thread may be better suited. The general idea is if you are going to be travelling and washing it in many different places in your travels, make it strong and finish off the detail carefully so it does not come apart on you in some obscure place where you can't fix it.


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#3 nokens

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 02:47 PM

Thanks for replying!!

I normally do use an overlock, but have read somewhere that a single needle (two single needle rows on seams) is stronger.

Any input on this? Would that be better to avoid shrinkage?
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#4 hutch48

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 03:49 PM

My personal preference for overlocking cotton is a 4 thread safety stitch, 2 needles and 2 loopers, the needle thread being 75 weight, the loopers being 120 weight. I personally use Coats Astra for both but any good quality poly-cotton will do the job. Some use a three thread overlock primarily to save on needle thread but its not as strong as a 4 thread safety and is mainly used to secure edges so they don't fray.

 

You can probably overlock some of a garment of this type but much of it will be stitched with a normal lock stitch from a normal sewing machine and here just be careful and back stitch the ends so they don't unravel. Your stitching will not effect shrinkage either way so I would test a piece of the fabric to see if shrinkage is a problem. Usually tight weave medium weight cotton does not have much shrinkage but some very loose or open weave cottons will shrink so they would not be a good choice for a garment of the type you have in mind.


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#5 greger

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:26 PM

Be sure to buy quality cotton. Poor quality can shrink a lot.

 

Holland and Sherry of England weaves quality cotton, to name one. Others here can chime in to name some other weaver to buy. But, even the best weavers make mistakes.


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#6 cthomas

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 09:18 PM

My personal preference for overlocking cotton is a 4 thread safety stitch, 2 needles and 2 loopers, the needle thread being 75 weight, the loopers being 120 weight. I personally use Coats Astra for both but any good quality poly-cotton will do the job. Some use a three thread overlock primarily to save on needle thread but its not as strong as a 4 thread safety and is mainly used to secure edges so they don't fray.

 

I was taught (in my fashion design course) to mainly use a 4 thread lockstitch (with 2 needles) for stretch/knit fabrics and a 3 thread lockstitch if the stitch is just meant to secure the edges. This because a 4 thread stitch will be able to stretch more with the fabric, while the 3 thread is smaller, thus usually looks a bit nicer on the seams... But it's very much down to preference I think.


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#7 Terri

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 12:14 AM

I use a four thread overlock for stretch wear as well. I don't think I have tried it on a woven....never thought of doing so.
Many Industrial overlocks are set with a five thread that does a lockstitch and overlock at the same time.
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#8 hutch48

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 02:43 PM

I usually destruction test seam design as I am very rough on work clothing and where you are making a structural seam on a woven fabric, a 4 thread safety stitch is simply stronger than any combination of a 3 thread. Terri is correct that the industrial standard is a 5 thread although all the ones I have seen do a chain stitch down the inside edge rather than a lock stitch. My own preference is a 4 thread safety then face stitch the seam on a normal sewing machine from the front so that you get a flat seam that is very strong.

 

If you are making an open seam then a 3 thread overlock to secure the edges may give you a flatter finish but I have never found a problem with just using a normal 4 thread. The cost of the extra needle thread is hardly a problem. One problem I have found is that of some tunnelling if the overlock seam is set very wide, 6 or 7 mm on a very light fabric. The trick if you get this effect is to narrow the overlock seam width so it flattens out. This is a lot easier than playing with your looper thread tensions.

 

I own one overlocker that will do many strange combinations, 2 needle - one looper for very high stretch fabrics and I think from memory it will do single needle, single looper as well. It will also do the 5 thread overlock with the inside edge chain stitch but I have nevr found the use for the unusual ones.


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#9 Terri

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 12:10 AM

Yes I stand corrected, most 5 thread overlocks have a chain stitch, not a lockstitch. I rarely use the 5 thread setting.
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#10 luciasews

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 08:43 AM

On getting advice about shrinkage: I suspect the number of washes to fully shrink may be affected by how you wash the fabric. I once discussed the shrinkage issue with a weaver who had what I would call a "reverence" for fabric. She said she found that cotton continued to shrink for numerous washed.  I on the other hand found most the shrinkage happened on the first go around. After some conversation, I discovered that out of 'fear' of shrinkage, she would wash her cotton in cold and line dry.   This behavior extended even unto her husbands Hanes  undershirts. (I kid you not.)

 

I on the other hand usually pre-washed fabric in hot and tumbled dried.  (I do this unless it's some sort of super fancy cotton that might need reverence.)


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#11 ladhrann

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 01:52 PM

On getting advice about shrinkage: I suspect the number of washes to fully shrink may be affected by how you wash the fabric. I once discussed the shrinkage issue with a weaver who had what I would call a "reverence" for fabric. She said she found that cotton continued to shrink for numerous washed.  I on the other hand found most the shrinkage happened on the first go around. After some conversation, I discovered that out of 'fear' of shrinkage, she would wash her cotton in cold and line dry.  

 

Like yourself I pre-wash like colours on the longest, hottest setting to remove the maximum amount of shrinkage.  Depending on the weather I line-dry too.  I think this removes almost all the shrinkage in the cloth.



#12 nokens

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 09:51 PM

Thanks for the input everyone.

 

My overlock just conked and I only have my high speed single needle now. I'll just try it and post images on this forum after I'm done. Thanks guys!



#13 MKennys

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 06:22 PM

Many fabrics that you can buy at the fabric store have already been shrunken, while others have not. When you are buying fabric look for labels that say pre-shrunk or Sanfordized. If they are not shrinked, you can shrink them yourself also. Shrinking fabric yourself is a relatively easy process and will help to ensure that your sewing projects hold their shape even after they are washed.


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#14 greger

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 10:59 AM

Some cloth goes off bias when put through the dryer and the cloth will never be as good as cloth that has been shrunk properly, nor will it last as long.






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