Linen Care - Pre-washing and Washing your Linen

We highly encourage you to pre-wash your fabric prior to sewing for most projects. Linen is known to shrink, so a pre-wash is key to removing any unwanted shrinkage later. Your linen will also soften over time, so a pre-wash will kick-start the softening process.

 

Our linen is machine washable and dry cleanable, so your 'pre-wash method will depend on how you plan on caring for your finished linen project. The basic rule is - wash the fabric the same way you plan to care for your finished garment or project. If you plan your finished items to be dry clean only - then please make sure to dry clean the fabric prior to sewing.

 

Our basic washing instructions are:

Pre-wash the fabric the same way you plan to wash and care for your finished garment or project.

For machine washing:

- Gentle machine wash with cool/warm water with your regular detergent ( wash colors separately)

- Machine dry on low or air dry, until the linen, is slightly damp

- Iron the damp fabric using your irons 'Linen' or hottest setting with lots of steam ( a dry iron can scorch the linen)

 

Finished items can be washed and dried on the same settings as when you pre-washed the fabric.

If your finished item might require to be washed in hot water ( baby bedding/kitchen towels), pre-wash the fabric in hot water to get the maximum shrinkage before you sew it up.

 

We've worked and lived with linen for decades, so we've learned many tricks for getting the most out of our linen. We've also been asked many questions about preparing your linen for all of your different projects, so we've compiled a more comprehensive set of answers to your common linen care and washing questions below:

 

 

1.  Will the fabric fray in the wash? If so, how do I prevent this?

Some of our linen fabrics are woven a little looser than densely woven cottons or other common fabrics, so they can unravel or fray in the wash, especially in the first prewash.

We recommend serging/overlocking each raw (cut) edge of fabric, or sewing the fabric edges together using a zig zag stitch or straight stitch.

Preparing_for_prewash.jpg

Once your fabric is washed, you can cut away the serged edge or unpick your stitching.

 

2. I've over dried my fabric and it's hard to iron, how do I get the creases out?

The trick to ironing linen is to do it while it's still a little damp from washing. But if you've accidentally over-dried the fabric, it can be harder to get the stubborn creases out.

If you accidentally over dry your linen - you can spray it with a bit of water. for stubborn creases, spray the fabric, put it in a ziplock bag, and then in the freezer for a couple hours - it will be much easier to iron from the freezer. Or you can throw it in the rinse cycle again. Whichever is easier.  

 

3. My fabric is too large for my washer, can I cut it into pieces?

If you've purchased a large yardage of linen, the thought of pre-washing the whole lot can be daunting. Sometimes the amount of fabric we need may not fit in the washer we have, so the alternative is to take it to a laundry with large capacity machines, or you can cut your linen into workable pieces.

Depending on your project, cut your fabric to the size you need, PLUS shrinkage. For more information about shrinkage see our article about it HERE

https://support.fabrics-store.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000220006-Softened-vs-Not-Softened-and-What-Shrinkage-to-Expect

 

4. Do I need to prewash my linen before dyeing it? If so, how?

we highly recommend pre-washing your linen if you are going to dye it. Depending on the dye you are using, you may need to prepare the fabric in a certain way. We recommend following the dye manufacturers instructions for fabric preparation as they vary between dye types and manufacturers.

if you are naturally dyeing your linen, we have a great article on our blog about preparing your linen. Here is the link to the article:
https://blog.fabrics-store.com/2020/07/02/natural-dyeing-preparing-your-fabric-for-dyeing/

 

5. How much is my linen going to shrink?

We have an article about estimated shrinkage for our basic linens and finishes HERE: https://support.fabrics-store.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000220006-Softened-vs-Not-Softened-and-What-Shrinkage-to-Expect

You can also find information about shrinkage on each fabric page, here is an example from our Jacquard IL002 page:

Snip20210528_25.png

 

6. My linen is a bit stiff, will it soften in the wash? Can I add fabric softener?

Linen is famous for its ability to soften with washing and wearing, so don't worry if your linen feels too stiff when you first get it. 
The first pre-wash will soften the linen up considerably, but if you want to get it softer, quicker, run your fabric through the wash a few more times. 

You can also add a gentle fabric softener to your wash water, and you can use dryer balls when you dry it. You will find continued use of a softener unnecessary as your linen softens naturally over time.

 

7. Should I separate light and dark colors? Will the color bleed?

Please wash your linens dark and light colors separately, especially on your first wash. Some, but not all, dark or rich colored dyes can bleed on the first wash. Generally, any dye run off like this is taken care of after the first wash, but it's best to wash your linen with like colors for the life of the item.

 

We have a great article about what to do about color leaching/bleeding in our pre-dyes linen or in your hand dyed projects HERE: https://support.fabrics-store.com/hc/en-us/articles/360058915711-Home-Remedies-for-Stopping-Dye-Run-Leaching- 

8. How do I remove stains?

To remove stains from your linen, we highly recommend rinsing the stain with cool water first. For stubborn stains, you can also add a drop of dish soap to the area. Gently massage the soap into the area, do not rub the area as this can force the stain deeper into the fibers and potentially damage the linen fibers too. Then pop it in the wash with plenty of cool water ( hot or warm water can set in stains).  For stubborn stains, you can use a gentle stain remover product according to the manufacturer's directions.

 

If you have any more questions about caring for your linen, feel free to comment below, or contact us by phone or email.

 

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6 Comments

  • 0
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    Eunice Merritt

    Thank you for this - its always nice to care for beautiful fabric in the best way.   

     

  • 0
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    Oksana

    Hi Eunice - we live with lot of linen things and are always happy to share our experience of living and taking care of it. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Have a lovely day!

  • 0
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    Gigi Heck

    Just washed my first batch of rustic linen and I"m very pleased with the way it turned out.  It really softened up considerably and didn't seem to shrink much.  I am so glad I read this blog and followed the directions to take it out of the dryer while it was still pretty damp!  Can't wait to create something beautiful with it!

  • 0
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    Oksana

    What awesome news - I am glad the washing instructions helped minimize the shrinkage :) It can be awful to accidentally over-dry linen and come out with half the fabric that went into the drier so I am glad you had a successful pre-wash. Linen will continue to get softer with all the wear and washes as well; but do stay vigilant not to over-dry. Feel free to email us with questions or post them here. Have a great day!

  • 0
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    Elaine Rutledge

    I no longer choose to iron my linen. I remove it from the dryer slightly damp, as you suggest, then finger press it. Usually, only small areas need it, such as necklines and armholes. The longer I wear my "textured" linen the smoother it becomes. I may wish to "distort" the weave for making bias cut garments. In that case, I block the linen, smoothing it into shape with my hands. When I made my bias cut  (Nico) camisole test garment, it did not fit the first time. Instead of giving it away, I wore it to bed one night. By morning it fit me, though the armholes were still too big for streetwear.

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    Oksana

    Hi Elaine! I completely agree - I haven't ironed a linen item in forever - hang drying is the way to go for me. Bedding is the only thing I dry in the dryer :)

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