Should you prewash T-shirts and other blank clothing items used for embellishment such as HTV or embroidery designs due to shrinkage?
In a nearly year long Sewing Report experiment, I sought to answer this question.
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How did I do it?
I started off with two 100% cotton T-shirts & two cotton/polyester blend T-shirts, prewashed one of each while leaving the other two as-is.
On each shirt, I embroidered the same design with basic polyester thread and applied generic HTV (heat transfer vinyl) on the inside back near the neckline. Then I ran all of the T-shirts through the washer and dryer 10 times to see how the designs fared through repeated laundry cycles.
Originally I hypothesized that the 100% cotton T-shirts would experience a higher amount of shrinkage, while the cotton/poly blend shirts would be closer in appearance after the 10 washings. I assumed that the designs on the unwashed 100% cotton shirts would be the most distorted at the end.
Was I right? You may be surprised…
Ladies’ Ideal V-Neck T-Shirt – Mint
Ladies’ 4.5 oz., 100% Ringspun Cotton nano-T® V-Neck T-Shirt – White
Iron on Vinyl Heat Transfer Vinyl
*Note: this information does not apply to garment sewing with fabric. Typically you should prewash or pretreat it before cutting into it if you plan to launder it afterward. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but I will still prewash common fabrics like cotton, rayon, linen, etc.*
Were you surprised by the results of this Sewing Report experiment? I sure was!
Drop me suggestions for future videos where I test out commonly held beliefs about sewing & crafting methods.
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Helping you discover your love of sewing at sewingreport.com through videos, articles, and tutorials. I’m Jennifer Moore – obsessed with sewing, and want you to be if you’re not already. Come on in!
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