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. Basic rule is - wash the fabric the same way you plan to care for your finished garment. 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 care instructions are:
- Gentle machine wash with cool/warm water with your regular detergent
- 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 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.
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
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:
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:
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-
If you have any more questions about caring for your linen, feel free to comment below, or contact us by phone or email.