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Unread 07-17-2010, 12:51 PM   #1
kiyohtan
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Should I Wash My Fabric Before Cutting?

Hello! I'm new to cosplaying, so I'm sorry if this question sounds dumb, but normally, are you supposed to wash and dry fabric at least once before cutting out the pattern pieces? ^^;;

I'm working on my first cosplay and I just bought some white cotton twill. I heard it's a popular fabric to use and easy for beginners, but it feels kind of thick/rough? I'm not sure if it's supposed to be like that or...? xD;;

Thanks, any help would be great~
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Unread 07-17-2010, 03:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiyohtan View Post
Hello! I'm new to cosplaying, so I'm sorry if this question sounds dumb, but normally, are you supposed to wash and dry fabric at least once before cutting out the pattern pieces? ^^;;

I'm working on my first cosplay and I just bought some white cotton twill. I heard it's a popular fabric to use and easy for beginners, but it feels kind of thick/rough? I'm not sure if it's supposed to be like that or...? xD;;

Thanks, any help would be great~
It depends on the fabric, but washing and drying before cutting it is generally a good idea. Fabric can shrink and change texture (some cotton I used was so stiff that it literally had to be beaten into submission), and the last thing you want to find out is that all of a sudden your costume is now a different size or distorted in form.
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Unread 07-17-2010, 08:06 PM   #3
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If you plan on wearing this costume time after time and washing between wears, then yes, prewash the fabric before cutting and sewing so that it shrinks before you sew it all together, and not after (then you have a costume that doesn't fit).
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Unread 07-17-2010, 09:27 PM   #4
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Yes and no. Some fabrics you actually can't wash (silk, velvet, etc.) and have to have drycleaned. This is the same if you have trim that will bleed onto your fabric sewn on. As for white twill? It's really up to you.

Washing and drying will preshrink the fabric. It will also leave you with rougher edges. That way if you wash your costume later, it won't shrink as much. Keep in mind if it is tight fitting or if you sew on a lot of ornamentation, you may not want to wash it that way anyway because traditional washing could damage it.

Honestly, I rarely pre-wash my fabric unless I dyed it and am afraid it will bleed. However I also rarely wear anything amazingly tight fitting or that does not end up dry clean or spot clean only. Some materials shrink an insane amount in the wash (or the dryer). Others don't. Twill typically does not shrink that much and with white, you don't have to worry about color bleeding onto you.

Answer? If the costume is tight, go for it. If not, you'll probably be okay without the extra effort.
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Unread 07-17-2010, 10:08 PM   #5
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Even if you're not sewing something fitted, if your fabric shrinks in the wash your seams will pucker. Fabrics made from natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, etc) will shrink in the wash more than synthetic fabrics, and they'll also bleed more dye when they get wet, so it's important to prewash them.
You're using white cotton, so you can wash it and dry it on the highest settings. Cotton usually shrinks around 5%.

EDIT: I forgot, you should also iron it after you've dried it. It'll stiffen it up a little and make it easier to trace your pattern onto.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 02:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kama View Post
Yes and no. Some fabrics you actually can't wash (silk, velvet, etc.) and have to have drycleaned. This is the same if you have trim that will bleed onto your fabric sewn on. As for white twill? It's really up to you.
Most of those so called "dry clean only" fabrics are labelled as such only to protect the manufacturers They can be washed in fact most dry cleaners cleaners don't have a clue how to deal with high end fabrics (too many horror stories abound if you ask).

Agreed with the yes and no though Often it is not the fibre or weave that is at issue but there are also heat and chemical treatments fabric go through before you get them to make them look really nice on the roll.

The twill of the OP is a case in point. When the fabric is washed it will soften and it will change properties- it'll be slightly stretchier, softer and will dye up beautifully. Without being washed it won't take dye to easier.

I had a couple of silk georgette sarees that I washed and the properties changed hugely. Again not because they are silk but because they were treated to be stain resistant through some sort of chemical wash. Once that was removed the fabric became crepey too.

You also need to theink about what sort of wash you will do. We have detergents to wash in cold water here (extra enzymes of whatever sort they use) and a cold water wash causes much less shrinkage in your fabric. A warm water wash will cause more and a hot water wash will cause a lot.

And then there is the spin cycle and hanging to dry to be careful of (wools require a lot of care in this part as the fibres are so elastic compared to others).

So technically you are supposed to as most dress making books presume you are going to wear and wash your garment many times. And it is usually a good idea. Sometimes your fabric just really is supposed to be presented as the manufacturer made it.

Cotton twill though, yeah wash away- warm if you can and with detergent and softener and a good fast spin. If you have a drier you'll get a lovely soft fabric that probably doesn't need ironing if you dry on the line bring it in when just a little damp and stream press.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 01:41 PM   #7
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Personal preference - I usually do, unless it's something that frays excessively.

The fabric I get - usually polycottons, but I've had it with others too - I don't know whether it's been treated or starched or what, but it comes off the roll stiff and I can only get a proper drape after I've washed it.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 06:53 PM   #8
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YES YES FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR COSTUME YES.

In all honestly the only fabrics I would hesitate/think/consider before pre-washing are wools and silks, and even then I tend to run my wool on a cold wash to remove sizing and dirt. Anything involving cotton? YES OH DEAR GOD WASH IT ON HOT AND DRY IT. Twill. Must. Be. Pre-washed.

It isn't personal preference. It's for pre-shrinking, colorfast-setting, and removing chemicals and dirt that might have gotten on the fabric while it lived on that bolt. The only time I ever allow myself to get lazy and not wash the fabric is if it's a 100% poly fabric that is never going to be washed anyway (such as, it will be embellished or sewn/glued/attached to a part of the costume that cannot be washed). But even if it's a fabric that shouldn't shrink and should by all means be colorfast, it's better to wash it than not because you don't know where that bolt has been. It could have been stored in a dusty warehouse. They could have added starch or sizing to the fabric to make it look fabulous on the bolt. You don't want to suddenly have a skin reaction to something that was in or on the fabric after you make the costume.
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Unread 07-18-2010, 06:53 PM   #9
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I wash pretty much everything except satin and silk (oh god, never wash satin...). If it's a delicate fabric, you could always hand-wash and dry it. As for cotton twill....wash and dry to your heart's content. It'll only help.
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Unread 07-19-2010, 05:20 AM   #10
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I'm not sure what the deal with not washing silk is. I mean, I've washed silk - I've washed velvet, I've washes wool - and I've washed silk velvet. The only times I ever destroyed something was before I knew anything about fabric and didn't know that putting wool in the drier is a pretty bad idea if you don't want it to felt - however, that piece of fabric got re-purposed into some really nice interfacing.

There are certainly some silks that will change properties if you wash them - just like any fabric that's been treated, no matter what the fibre.

However, I have dyed wool and silk velvet in very hot water without disastrous property changes. It can certainly be done without ruin.


Satin is just a weave - satin can be made out of silk or wool or cotton or anything. It's perfectly fine to wash unless there's some special finish that can't be washed. If there are very long floating threads in the weave, there may be danger of snagging - just be safe and wash in a bag if necessary - however, most satins you're going to use do not have such long floating threads.

Most things can be washed - you just have to know what you're doing. And, like said - dry-cleaners may not be equipped to deal with special fabrics - it's just not what they usually do, or ever - and you might end up worse off than if you did a bit of research to see what you would need to do for the particular fabric.


Many historical fine garments were not "washable", and I think the same can be said for many "fine garments" today. It's okay if something isn't conventionally washable - just as long as you understand that.


O, and also - many fabrics will bleed dye right off the bolt - especially red.
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Unread 07-19-2010, 10:30 AM   #11
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If you ever plan to wash the garment, pre-wash the fabric in the manner you'd most likely be using. Helps prevent surprises.

Cotton twill, as someone said, does tend to shrink a little. It will also get softer (think like a pair of jeans). Unless you need it stiff and you won't be washing the garment, go ahead and wash it.
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Unread 07-19-2010, 05:12 PM   #12
kiyohtan
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Thank you for the help and tips everyone! :3

I ended up washing it twice with warm water, detergent, a fast spin cycle and hot temp in the dryer and while it didn't get much softer, I think it helped~ I'm going to be making it into a semi-tight-fitting dress and I'm glad I washed it first.

Thanks again! :)
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Unread 12-07-2010, 04:22 AM   #13
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Sorry if this is considered resurrecting a thread, but I didn't want to create a new topic when it already existed.


I'm pretty new to sewing and everything. I just bought some bottomweight fabric that's a 65/35 cotton/poly blend in a royal blue color. The plan is to prewash but I have 2 questions:

1) I have 8 yards of fabric. Can I just toss it in all at once or do I need to fold it first and then pin it? I'd like to avoid cutting the fabric.

2) What's the best way to prevent fraying of the edges? I read that you can clip the corners diagonally to help with this problem. I also read somewhere to lock all the edges but that seems a bit excessive to me with the amount of fabric I have.
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Unread 12-07-2010, 04:42 AM   #14
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You will probably get many more responses if you start a new thread. It's okay to do so.

1. I'm not sure why you would pin it. It seems like the pins might get stuck in part of the washing machine and cause tears and runs. Is there a reason you're thinking of doing this ?

If it fits in all at once, just toss it in.

2. I doubt it will unravel very much. You can sew along all the edges. I wouldn't worry about it unless the fabric is really fragile (doesn't sound like it is). I never have bothered, even with silk and the problems have been negligible. You might find a few threads have knotted up, but you just cut them apart.
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Unread 12-07-2010, 05:10 AM   #15
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1. Yeah, just toss it all in. It'll be fine

2. A cotton/poly bottom weight isn't going to fray much. Even something that would fray more, it's less time and effort to trim it after than to overlock.
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