This week was focused on my dear fabric. In the last post, a couple of you pointed me to some interesting posts on pre-shrinking wool crepe. Thanks for that. From one of the blog posts I read, in the comment section, someone mentioned that wool, is essentially hair. Well duh! That is so true. Wool is animal hair ( specific types of course, definitely not elephant). So, she reasoned, since wool is hair, we should treat it as we would our own hair. Well I can tell you that as an African, my hair is very delicate. It breaks easily, so I need to treat it with tender loving care ( something I am too lazy to do). My hair needs to be washed with a very gentle shampoo, or just a conditioner, and it needs to be moisturised all the time. So wool too, depending on the type, can be very delicate, and would shrink badly if exposed to heat, or felt if treated harshly. Oh dear. Talk about having issues. Get your act together wool, there's no need to be such a drama queen.
So after toing and froing on the blogoshpere and some books, I gathered that you should pre-treat your wool crepe the same way that you will care for it as a finished garment and that there are various ways to pre-shrink wool crepe ( and most woolens). You can choose whichever method that suits your lifestyle.
FOR THE MINTED
For those with the cash to splash, you could always go to your dry cleaner, and ask for wool crepe to be steamed. I will not be taking this route, so I did not bother to find out more about what you need to discuss with your dry cleaner. Apparently the cost is high. As someone who has never taken anything to be dry cleaned, I am not interested in this method. I should probably say here that I am also not tempted by the notion of going to the dry cleaners after every wear. If I ruin this fabric now because I used another pre-shrinking method, then good riddance. I have decided to look at it from the point of view that spoiling the fabric now will mean saving Noah's inheritance. No dress to wear, no dry cleaning bills to pay, and therefore more money for Master Noah when he turns 50 and collects his inheritance...all 50 pence of it.
FOR THOSE WITH TIME ON THEIR HANDS
There is the London shrink method, which I also saw in Couture: Fine Art of Sewing by Roberta Carr. Here you wet your fabric, and roll it between 2 large sheets for a couple of hours or overnight, and let it dry naturally. You need alot of space for this one, and alot of patience too. Again, this is not for me, as I do not have the luxury of space in my tiny house, and though I could probably make the time, I can't be asked to. I want to believe since this is mentioned in a book on couture sewing, it might be the accepted way in the couture houses. I have come to the conclusion that couture sewing might be a concerted effort by the experts to discourage mass interest in sewing. By making the dressmaking process look as time consuming as possible they can charge exorbitant prices for their garments. Less people with the knowledge or patience to make garments, more money for us aye?
FOR THOSE WHO PREFER STEAMY ENCOUNTERS
There are two ways to use steam on wool crepe. There is the method highly favoured by Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, which involves steaming your fabric with a very hot steam iron and a wet press cloth. This reminds me alot of the way my millinery teacher taught me how to hand block wool felt. Which involved pressing the wool with a very hot dry iron, and a wet press cloth. It makes the wool pliable, and your can stretch it over your hat block, or stretch it so that you can do other things with the felt. Carolyn says she does not move her fabric for 2 minutes after pressing. I suppose that is to prevent it stretching out of shape. She also says it is time consuming though not as much as London shrinking though.
Now, for those that are not after a facial, and who do not have the time to spare, there is the other method where you chuck the fabric into your dryer with two wet towels, and tumble dry for 40 minutes. You can read more about from Pam of Off The Cuff Sewing Style. I am highly tempted by this one for the simple reason that I do not want to go on a play date with wool crepe and a hot iron with Noah in tow.
FINALLY FOR THOSE WHO WOULD EAT ICE CREAM IN WINTER
Yep! That's me. I will gladly eat ice cream while sinking in snow. This method, detailed here by Shannon of Hungry Zombie, involves immersing your wool crepe in a washer filled with a mixture of COLD water and a soft soap such as Eucalan. You only soak the wool in the water for 20 minutes, and then hang to dry or place in your dryer on a gently cycle. I am also tempted by this method because I can see my self washing my dress like this after it has been sewn. I am no stranger to hand washing clothes as I used a washing machine for the first time in 2005 when I came here to the UK. Yes. I was 25 years old before I even saw a washing machine with mine eyes. We used to hand wash all our clothes in Cameroon. Very special items were taken to the dry cleaners, and that was only by those in big towns who had access to such services. When I last went home in 2009, there was a dry cleaner on every street. Times have definitely changed.
Eucalan is available in the UK, and you can buy it from Sew Direct, or here, where I got mine. There are other places that sell it, and you can find a list of the UK stockists here.
So, I will try my little experiment to see which method to use. It was advised to experiment with 5" squares of fabric, which I shall do.
In other news, I went and bought an extra metre of lining as I have decided to line the whole dress, and just not the bodice as the pattern directs.
I have also received my Deer and Doe patterns. More on that later.