How to keep your appliqué from buckling after you wash it.

By on June 9th, 2013
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One of my machine embroidery Facebook friends recently posted a completed project and asked the group members what she had done wrong with her appliqué. The appliqué looked fine after she took it off the machine, but after she had washed it, the appliqué was all puckered and frankly  looked pretty bad.  So, what gives? How did washing screw up the final project?  Or – she wondered – can you simply not wash appliquéd clothing?

I knew from experience exactly what was causing her problem.  A few years ago, my sister made a darling dark brown corduroy jumper with an appliquéd Yorkie in Burberry plaid on the front for my little daughter.  But as soon as it came out of the wash – it looked like crap – all puckered and wrinkled up.  So I asked her, “did you wash the fabric before you did the appliqué?”  Her answer: “no.”

And that is the problem.  You should always wash your garments and your appliqué fabric BEFORE you start to appliqué.  The appliqué fabric and the garment may shrink a bit after the first washing.  If they are different fabric types, they might shrink differently.  You want to get all this shrinking out of the way prior to starting your project.

Yes – this can be incredibly inconvenient when you are trying to complete a last-minute project with a t-shirt you just picked up at the store.  But – take the time to wash it first.  I now have two different areas in my sewing room where I store new t-shirts and ones that have been washed.  I often stick a straight pin in the collar of washed shirts to remind me of what has been washed and what hasn’t.  The same goes for new fabrics.  As soon as it comes home, I try to remember to wash it.

And about that Yorkie dress.  My daughter wore it once, and never again.

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