Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How do I pretreat this fabric?

The bouclé fabric is made of silk (at least 90% of the fabric) and I'm much inclined to sew it without pretreating the fabric in any way. I'm afraid the fabric will not have the same beautiful shine after washing it or will otherwise change.

Furthermore it's an expensive piece of fabric, and I just bought enough to make a short Chanel style jacket. I don't have any length to test with.

What should I do? I'd appreciate your opinion.

16 comments:

JoanneM said...

If this were me....and I am sure some will beg to differ......I would leave it as is......and then find a truly decent dry cleaner when the time is necessary.......

JoanneM said...

I forgot-it is LOVELY fabric!

Tina said...

Most books say steam to pretreat if you will be dry-cleaning the garment. I wouldn't wash it!

AllisonC said...

I have some boucle that looks just like this isn my stash. I think the most I will do with mine is steam it with an iron when I press it before cutting. In a Chanel jacket it's not like it will need cleaning every week. But I am no expert!

Anonymous said...

I third the idea of either taking it to the dry cleaner for a test run or steaming it yourself. Silk shrinks from the steam ironing at a drycleaner, so you definitely need to pre-treat.

Cindy said...

I am making a silk tweed jacket right now. I just used a light steam on it. I found my piece in the remnant section of Vogue Fabrics. It was marked as Silk tweed but I am suspicious about it--I believe it has a bit on cotton in it. It lacks the sheen which your boucle shows!

Christy Sews said...

I just finished pre-treating raw silk tweeds last night. I used the method that Pam at Off the Cuff (http://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-pre-shrink-wool-fast-and-easy-at.htmlhttp://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-pre-shrink-wool-fast-and-easy-at.html) suggested for wool and they came out looking quite nice. I'd test a 6x6 square with this method and see what you think. Otherwise, I would probably get out my steamer and go to work (which was my original plan).

gwensews said...

If anything, I would steam that beautiful silk, and nothing more.

Birgitte said...

What a stunning piece. And I can see you in this, absolutely fab. I'm with the light steam approach, it's not like you'll be plowing the field in this thing right ;)

willowsmum said...

I am no expert, but if this was my piece of fabric I would treat it before as I would treat it after and that would be to dry clean.
Beautiful fabric.

Lindsay T said...

Yes, dry clean only.

By the way, you should not hesitate to go inside a Chanel store. It's not as intimidating as one might think. At the store in Soho (NYC) the sales staff are quite friendly, in fact. I look, I touch, I open up the jackets and look inside. It's quite educational for home sewers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tina, steam to pretreat, just in case it wants to shrink a tad... I wouldn't wash it.

Nancy K said...

I wouldn't do anything to it except check how it presses so you'll know how much steam you can use. Dry clean it obviously. It's gorgeous.
Lindsay's right. I've done this too. I love Armani and have gone into the stores and the salespeople were very nice and friendly. Looking at the insides of these high end garments is a revelation. Sometimes not such a good revelation, but usually very interesting and enlightening.

Linda said...

As others have indicated, steam it to pretreat; or dry Dryel and put in your dryer using the Dryel bag and cleaning solution.

It is a lovely piece of fabric.

Marie-Christine said...

I read a really helpful tip once: silk has been used for at least 5000 years, dry-cleaning has only existed about 50 years. So you really shouldn't hesitate to wash it. I tend to wash mine in the washing machine myself, and I've never had any trouble. European woolen cycle would be perfect. Or wash it by hand in cold water, with a swig of dish detergent, and you can be certain it'll be fine. A dash of vinegar would help stabilize any dye runoff if you have any doubt about that (because silks are dyed with acid dyes, not the dyes for cellulose fabrics which are fixed with baking soda..).

If you prewash your fabric AND your interfacing, you'll be able to wash your jacket in the future without any problem. The main reason silk jackets are usually labelled 'dry clean only' is that manufacturers use very cheap interfacing and figure they can throw liability back onto the dry cleaner if there's any problem. Not that silk isn't washable.

But it seems to me the issue here isn't 'washing', it's how to press the fabric so the lovely boucle texture is preserved. I find that washing usually accentuates boucle textures, which I like. You can preserve the texture totally by simply steaming, and maybe finger-pressing seams open during construction. You can also press like you'd press velvet, from the wrong side on a velvet board or a simple terrycloth towel. Or you can just press it with a regular presscloth to get more of the texture out. It all depends how much texture you like..

If you have any fabric to spare I'd recommend testing on a scrap large enough to show texture well. But yes, it's not silk that shrinks it's boucle fabrics, and you'll get different results according to the pressing treatment you choose. So test and then pretreat before cutting!

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