How to Prepare Fabric to be Sewn


To those of you new to sewing, welcome to the sewing club! It’s so much fun, and super rewarding. In the beginning, however, it can also be a little confusing. One thing that can be a little tricky is knowing how to treat your fabric before it’s ready to be worked with. You can’t just pick up fabric from the store and immediately sew it on up, even though that would be fantastic. You’ll run into shrinkage problems in the future, and you really don’t want that.

So in this article, I’m going to share some tips on hot to prepare fabric to be sewn, no matter if your fabric is a knit or a woven material.


various scattered sewing tools of a seamstress

1. Check the Washing Instructions At the Store

When you’re browsing the fabric at your local arts and crafts shop, you’ll find a label on one end of the bolt that tells you how much you’ll pay per yard, the type of fabric (100{acf852886d839e022dc9ad1f3bc7487ca04693687e7ac2dffa622691f1e38bb7} Cotton, 95{acf852886d839e022dc9ad1f3bc7487ca04693687e7ac2dffa622691f1e38bb7} Spandex 5{acf852886d839e022dc9ad1f3bc7487ca04693687e7ac2dffa622691f1e38bb7} Rayon, etc.), and how you should wash your fabric. Take special note of these instructions. This is not only how you will wash your fabric before you sew it, but it’s also how the garment you make from the fabric will need to be washed in the future. This goes for online purchases as well.

Sewing 2

2. Prepare the Edges of Woven Fabrics

Woven fabrics (fabric that doesn’t stretch, and needs a zipper where most stretch fabrics won’t) fray super easily, so if you don’t want the edges to unravel a bunch while being washed and dried, break out your sewing machine and zigzag stitch the raw edges. If you’re new to sewing you probably don’t have a serger, but just in case you do, serging these edges is perfectly acceptable as well!

Sewing 3

3. Wash and Dry the Fabric

Throw your fabric in the washer, and wash it according to the instructions you found on the label. After it’s washed, dry it as you would the finished garment as well. With some fabrics, you might want to repeat this process, just to be safe. Some fabrics don’t finish shrinking the first time being washed.

Sewing 4

4. Pressing and Letting Fabric Rest

Once your woven fabrics are finished being dried, you’ll notice that they can be super wrinkly. So simply whip out your iron, and press those wrinkles out! Stretchy fabrics, or knits, will need to be set aside and allowed to rest. Don’t let the edges hang off of a table or couch, as this will warp the shape and potentially ruin your garment.

After these steps on how to prepare fabric to be sewn, you’ll be ready to go to the sewing machine and make something amazing!

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Updated: June 17, 2017 — 9:10 pm
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