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Pre-Shrink Fabric For Best Fit Slipcovers

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about white slipcovers; the most popular slipcover I make. Usually my clients want denim or canvas and almost always, 100 percent cotton. They want the ability to wash their slipcovers. And cotton will definitely shrink.

So, I hear this A LOT: should I prewash the fabric I want to use AND what is the best way to wash my fabric?

Let’s tackle should you prewash your fabric. The short answer – yes, you should prewash your fabric. Think about it like this; have you ever rushed to hem a new pair of jeans, only to wash them and now they're too short? That's what can happen to your slipcover, if your "all cotton" fabric isn't pre-washed.

Here’s how I tell my clients to prepare their fabric so it can be preshrunk prior to being made and then washed over and over as a slipcover:

  1. Cut the fabric into 3 to 4 yard lengths. This can easily fit into most washing machines because it’s about the size of bed sheets. Ideally, you want a little room in the washing machine to spare, otherwise you can create deep-set wrinkles.

  2. Wash the fabric in hot water, no detergent and one length at a time.

  3. Tumble dry on high. Make sure to check the fabric doesn’t get rolled up into a big ball. If it is, pull it out; shake it up and put it back into the dryer on high. This will help keep the wrinkles at bay.

  4. Remove the fabric as soon as its dry. Fold it, or roll it onto a tube. Most fabrics, depending where you purchase them, come on a tube. Keep it and use it for this purpose.

Another question I often hear is “should I press it? It’s not necessary. I always press the pieces as I work with them; fabric that is severely wrinkled will distort the drape and fit so keep them to a minimum but you don’t have to press it.

I like to work with a fabric that is at least 10 to 14 ounces. That doesn’t mean a lighter fabric won’t work; sometimes it’s easier to handle lighter material in and out of the washer. My experience is the heavier fabrics standup to more washings.

Whatever fabric you choose make sure you love it and remember you’ll have the best results if you prewash it.

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