Monday, January 27, 2020

What is Wet Finishing?

There were questions when I mentioned "wet finishing my hand woven fabric."  So, this post is dedicated to answering that question.  I should say that these instructions are for cotton and other cellulose (plant) fibers.

Once the threads/yarns have been woven,  they are still not considered cloth.  At this point we call it a "web" or "webbing."   In common everyday talk with non-weavers, I still call it fabric or cloth, even though technically it isn't yet. Wet finishing is the process that changes it from "web" to "cloth."
On the loom- it is still webbing.

 Wet finishing is a process of washing the newly made fabric so that the threads relax into one another becoming cloth.  It is the first time the woven threads have been exposed to water.  I personally just put the web into the washing machine with some laundry - the shirts and/or pants.  As I wash on warm, it works well.  A warm wash is what is suggested.  I leave it for the full cycle and retrieve the cloth when I am moving the other laundry to the dryer.  This cloth does NOT go into the dryer yet.

Next up is the ironing stage.  Ironing the wet cloth helps to somewhat align the selvedges. When I do it, I am pulling the selvedge edge straight as the edge gets ironed. My method is "both selvedges of a section first."  Then I press out the middle. And then I repeat pressing the selvedges, pulling them straight again. 

The next stage is  hanging the fabric to dry undisturbed. 
One length of fabric drying after being wet finished.
Once the cotton fabric has been made into a garment - or whatever- it can be washed and dried by machine like any other cotton article.

After doing all of that then the fabric is more cohesive and ready to use. It still requires special techniques for cutting so that it doesn't start to come apart.
 One technique for cutting handwoven fabric is to sew a line where you wish to cut and then sew another line approximately 1/8 of an inch outside that line. You then can cut between the two sewn lines without the fabric coming apart. 

For the armholes on my vest, I  used a different method.  I marked the armholes with masking tape and cut them. Then I took the pieces to the machine and sewed the line to stabilize it. I find that works far better for curved lines.

That was probably more than you really wanted to know.  But maybe someone will find this very helpful.  It is always good to share knowledge, don't you think?

 Until Next Time,  
Stay Creative 

Comments are welcomed. I will reply when possible. Of course if you are a "No Reply Blogger"- I can not reply. Links in comments will result in the entire comment being deleted.


Kathleen said...

Thanks for the explanation for the wet finish. I knew you would have to be careful with the seams, but was glad to hear the process. I have made garments but not with that kind of fabric so I am glad to know in case the need arises.

Kathleen said...

Wow, I had no idea of this process! You've given me a new appreciation of anything handwoven, and my appreciation was already high to begin with!
Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

Barbara said...

Interesting to me that it is cotton yet doesn’t undergo shrinkage at any point, indeed even being able to be put in the dryer during subsequent launderings. Thanks for the info, sounds like work! Lol.

Debbie said...

Thanks for the details. I always find this processing so interesting. The stay stitch sewing is one of the first dressmaking tips I learned a very long time ago!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Interesting. I wondered what you meant with the wet thing.

Barb said...

That is soooo interesting, thanks so much

A Left-Handed Quilter said...

Fascinating!! Your explanation of a process is always terrific and very informative - it gives great insight into all of the "work" involved when you "play" - ;))

Sandra Walker said...

I always enjoy learning about a process, and this was especially enlightening. I didn't think you had to wash the fabric before sewing but it makes total sense. Very thorough explanation!

Snoodles said...

This was a super interesting post! I love learning new things, and your fabric (and your vest) are just awesome! Thanks for taking the time to write all this so we could know more about your work!

Pam said...

Never too old to learn something new to me. Thank you for the clear, understandable explanation. Enjoy seeing your creations.