How To: Caring for Delicate Fabrics

How to care for delicte fabrics

So it seems that sewing fabric and collecting fabric are two separate sports! If you’re anything like me, you have an ever-growing fabric stash. Mine’s got the lovely, comfy basics, prints that caught my eye, yardage intended for specific projects, mystery box goodies, and, of course… the soul fabrics; the ones so gorgeous that I simply had to add to my collection! These are the fabrics that are so incredibly beautiful, and often delicate, that it’s almost a shame to cut them up and make pretty things.

When you do venture into creating with delicate fabrics, knowing how to care for them, before and after sewing, will keep them in perfect condition.

Tips for Washing Special Fabrics

how to wash lace

Lace

  • Hand wash in cool water
  • Use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat dry with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softeners
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Warm iron only when necessary – best when lace is slightly damp. Place on a thick towel, and put a fine fabric between the lace and the iron.

Silk

  • Hand wash in lukewarm water
  • Use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat dry with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softeners
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Steam out wrinkles if possible
  • Iron on low heat or silk setting when completely dry. Place a fine fabric between the silk and the iron and do not spray or wet silk while ironing.

Swiss Dot Mesh

  • Hand wash in lukewarm water
  • Use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat dry with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softeners
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Warm iron only

Sequined Velvet/ Embellished Fabrics

  • Wash infrequently
  • Gentle hand wash or dry clean
  • To hand wash rather than dry clean, use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat dry with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softener
  • Do not tumble dry

Silk Jacquard

  • Sturdier jacquards can be machine washed at 86°F/ 30 °С
  • More delicate jacquards should be hand washed
  • Use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softener
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Let dry on a hanger or flat surface, away from direct sunlight

Velvet

  • Steam cleaning is recommended, however velvet can be machine washed on a cool, gentle cycle.
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softener
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Hang to dry

Chiffon

  • Silk chiffon should be dry cleaned
  • Polyester/ nylon chiffon can be be machine washed on a cool, gentle cycle or hand washed
  • To hand wash use a mild detergent* and massage very gently into the fabric
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing or wringing
  • Rinse well with clean water, and pat with a towel
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softener
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softener
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Iron on a very low setting, without steam, and with a fine fabric between the chiffon and iron

*A lingerie detergent is a suitable mild detergent to use for delicate fabrics. You can make your own by mixing:

  • 1 tsp (5ml) of baby soap (Johnson & Johnson or similar)
  • 1 cup (250ml) of hot water
  • 1 drop of essential oil

All delicate fabrics, and delicate items, that are able to be machine washed, should be placed into a protective wash bag first. This will stop any snags, tears, and twisting. You can make the perfect size for your needs with the Lingerie Wash Bag pattern.

This handy Lingerie Wash Bag sewing pattern is the perfect solution to keep your delicates in tip top condition. Perfect for laundry days or traveling.

How to Wash Delicate Garments

When it comes to washing the delicates like lingerie (handmade or ready to wear), hand washing is always the better option. That’s not always a realistic option, though, so machine washing on a gentle cycle, using a protective wash bag is a winner! But remember – no tumble drying!

For hand washing:

  • Fill a basin with lukewarm water.
  • Add a mild lingerie detergent*
  • Place lingerie in the basin and let the item(s) soak for 10-15 minutes
  • Gently massage the item
  • Drain the basin and refill with clean water
  • Soak for 5 minutes
  • Very gently squeeze to let out the water.
  • Place on a towel and fold up the towel over the top of the items and pat dry.
  • After most of the water has been absorbed, hang the item to dry

Something I always try to do when sewing a garment, is to pre-wash the fabric the same way I intend to wash the finished item. Knowing how to properly care for the fabric before I start sewing, as well as afterwards, keeps my makes in fab condition, which adds to the joy of making.

Next up? A silky pjs set using the Slip and Lingerie Shorts patterns!

Other Delicates Patterns for You to Try

A quick guide on how to care for delicate fabrics such as silk, chiffon, lace, velvet, and embellished fabrics

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