Stiff Fabric Syndrome

I always wash material before sewing it – preshrinking. Different fabrics shrink different amounts, and why take the risk that you make a garment that fits good now, but after you wash it, it’ll be too small or too short? It just makes good sense.

I recently bought some voile, darkish blue, on the advice of the lady at the fabric store. She assured me it would be fine as a shawl for my shalwaar and it would loosen up after I washed it.

It didn’t. It was still stiff.

On the advice of another friend, I soaked it for a bunch of hours after handwashing it in even more soap and also some borax for good measure. The theory was that perhaps there was still some starch left over on the material, causing it to be stiff.

Alas, still stiff. Far too stiff to use it as a shawl.

Well, here’s the thing. When it’s wet, it’s beautiful. It’s soft and I like how I think the fabric is going to be when it’s dry. Eh.

Unsatisfied, I ran a Google search and came up with a few suggestions.

  • use a dryer instead of hanging it up. The tumbling action of a dryer can soften many fabrics. Doesn’t apply to me, but perhaps one of my readers will find it useful.
  • put 1/2 cup of salt or 1/2 cup of vinegar in the rinse water. Apparently, the salt usually works, plus either (both) of them will act to help set the dye. Vinegar will also dull the sheen of any shiny materials, however. I’ve also read that vinegar will remove sizing, whatever the heck that means. Distortion in the fabric, perhaps, if it shrunk or stretched previously? I dunno. Nah, I read another webpage where it talked about sizing build-up, so it’s some sort of chemical. No idea.
  • use 1 cup nonfat milk in the place of laundry detergent in the washing machine. Also doesn’t apply to me as we can’t get nonfat milk to save our lives. If the salt or vinegar doesn’t work, though, I will try the only kind of milk powder we can get here, which is full fat.

I’ll start with the vinegar and move on from there. Tomorrow.

Google sure does come in handy!

Author: LMAshton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.