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Pre-washing fabric

Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:14 pm
by Sophia
I normally pre-wash linen for smocks and shirts and have recently taken to pre-washing linen for linings as it has proved to be a bally good idea unless you can afford the dry-cleaning bills (slight mishap with a non-reenactment garment that meant I had to reline it - :oops: ).

What are people's thoughts on pre-washing habotai silk for linings (happen to have quite a lot of it at the moment) and wool fabrics for Kirtles, Gowns and Coats?

I know most wool is fulled during production, but is it worth it as a precaution. I am investing heavily both in fabric and time and don't want to have any disasters.

Sophia :wink:

Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:39 pm
by Lady Phoenix
Hi Sophia,

I don't know what others do but I washed all my fabric (linen and wool) before I made up any garments - I had the time and I wanted to be on the safe side. All washed at 40 degrees.

No idea about silk as I've never used it.


Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:04 pm
by Shadowcat
I wash linen cos it shrinks. As my customers tend to wear their clothes indoors, and rarley get them dirty, I never wash anything else. Most of my clothes are elaborately trimmed, which would have to be picked off before cleaning, so it makes sense.

Silk almost never shrinks (I say almost to protect myself in case!) But I never wash silk because I don't like to lose the stiff crispness that the customer ordered it for in the first place. If habutai linings are going to get a lot of wear, I would not use it. It rubs and disintegrates very quickly.


Habotai linings

Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:20 pm
by Sophia
I am making up a substantial wardrobe (1-2 ordinary kirtles, 1-2 flat fronted kirtles and an early C15th gown probably plus another late one). I intend to use the habotai to line gowns rather than Kirtles - also putting in a linen piece at the bottom where the majority of the wear will be as I know it will go.

I am fairly easy on my clothes except for hems - I certainly won't be using any on his nibs, except for very special occasions as he has a tendancy to wreck things. Which reminds me, I must do him an ordinary doublet and another pourpoint in short order or he will wreck the blue velvet one.

Of course all this depends on me not having too much other work to do in the next few months. I can see that I will be bringing hand finishing with me to events, so if anyone wants someone to be part of their scenery let me know.

Sophia :lol:

Posted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 7:14 pm
by Sledge
I always pre-wash linen, owing to an experience I had some years ago where I made a lovely linen shirt and hand smocked it - didn't pre-wash the cloth and ended up with a much smaller garment once it had been washed!

To say I was devastated is an understatement!

Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:15 am
by Tuppence
Always pre-wash linen, because as said v well above, ity shrinks like billio.

The only other medieval fabrics I ever wash at all are wools for hosen (makes it all nice and springy and stretchy).

Much modern wool is dry clean only - the reason can be down to three factors - either it's because it would wreck the nice smooth face of the fabric, or in some cases because it can damage the fabric itself.

The final facotor being the dye thing (it almost always runs if particularly strong). In which case you'll need to wash it again and again until the colour stops running (putting a scrap of white fabric in with it so you'll know).

Of course there's also the shrinkage thing (depending on the specific weave under the felting, it can shrink far more than linen, and can also become much more felted, and heavy in the process).

Generally, I'd advise against washing any wool, and just have the kit dry cleaned.

Same goes for silks - in theory 'soft' silks (which I think habotai counts as) can be washed, but any other type of silk should be dry cleaned.

Personally, I'd be more inclined to dry clean.

When mixing lots of different fibres in the same piece, I'd say only dry clean it when made up, using the sensitive process (the one with te 'P' with the little line under it).
Even if pre-washed, you can never be 100% certain that stuff won't shrink more, and at different rates.


Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:36 pm
by frances
I wash wool before cutting out, but only if it is for outdoor gaments or if I am dyeing it. I have a thought that if I get caught in the rain a wool cloak or dress might be ruined otherwise. No proof, just a feeling. I recently dyed some wool for a man's Regency frock coat, so it went through the machine three times. Of course it lost the smooth surface and came out fluffy. But since it was going to be saoked in PVA glue, there was no point in dashing away with the smoothing iron to put the surface back again. The client loved the texture!

And I do wash silk too, mainly for linings. If I am making a cotton bodice with a silk lining (later periods I hasten to add) or for silk-lined sleeves, I am so likely to wash the bodice if it gets dirty, that I pre-shrink the silk and also find out if the colour runs - again a problem if it gets wet. If the garment is going to be sweated into I make sure the silk lining is pale or white. However, I do like to put in strong-coloured linings even if they are not going to be seen. I think it makes one feel good about the garment.

For a posh frock that is only ever going to be used indoors, washing can alter the lusturous silky surface of quality silk. So I would, like everyone else, just iron it before cutting-out.