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July 5

The Results of Washing & Interfacing

Hey guys!  I’m baaaack!  :)  I’ve concluded my third trip in 2 weeks and needed a bit of down time to get refreshed and get motivated to begin a new sewing project.

Today’s post has a funny blog title, but it’s really perfect.  This topic is quite text heavy and has lots of my thoughts and experience with interfacing.  What’s kinda funny is that I feel like this is only the tip of the iceberg, with regards to interfacing.  So let’s dig in!

I recently had a brief chat with Sara within the comments section of my 50’s Scalloped Blouse post.

She was asking me if my blouse looked all wrinkled/wonky coming out of the wash since I didn’t use any interfacing.  Truth be told, this is my first blouse where I didn’t use interfacing so I wasn’t 100% sure how to respond.

I do have other vintage blouses that don’t contain interfacing, but funny enough I haven’t washed them.  I have washed some vintage cotton dresses that did come out wrinkly, but most of my items do wrinkle that aren’t made of knit fabrics, so I find myself ironing after washing no matter what.

I never thought that interfacing is used to help the garment withstand wear & washing.  I’ve only used it where the garment needs some *omph* aka structure or stability.  That’s not to say, that this isn’t a portion of the intended purpose of  interfacing.  As a result, I thought this was a topic worth exploring: washing garments & interfacing.

I pre-wash all of my fabrics, and in this particular case, my fabric is a basic mid-weight cotton that has a bit crispness, but is soft & breathable like a nice cotton should be.  I’d think of similar to a kona cotton, but perhaps a degree softer.  It was pre-washed one time on a cold setting since I wasn’t sure if it the colors would run.  Afterwards I threw it in the drier on a cotton setting with the rest of my laundry.  I then ironed the fabric on a lower-cotton setting with steam to get the wrinkles out.  (The wrinkles were a bit stubborn.)

I wash all of my cottons with my apartment building’s washers & driers.  They’re nothing fancy, and they sure don’t have special settings.  So all of my cottons get thrown together in the normal wash & dry cycles.  (I have to pay $1.50 per load to wash and another $1 to dry, so everything gets combined for the best cost savings.)  Lights on either warm or hot settings and darks/colors get a cold setting.

After wearing my scalloped blouse on a (few) hot days, I decided it needed to go for a wash.  It went in the cold cycle.  Similarly, my white, light-weight, cotton violet blouse was in need of a wash so that went into the warm cycle.  I thought I’d document both blouses for you all.

Both are cottons: one drapey, light-weight fabric with light-weight, iron-on interfacing (Violet) and the second is mid-weight with no interfacing (Scalloped).

View here for pre-washing: Violet Blouse & 50’s Scalloped Blouse.

Violet Post-Washing:

As you can see, this blouse is quite wrinkly.  (I’ll reserve the rest of my thoughts until after showing the scalloped blouse images.)

Scalloped Blouse Post-Washing:

This looks pretty wrinkled.  The neckline scallops are caving inwards as are the sleeve hems.

But the front button band doesn’t look too bad.

Insides:  Everything is a bit squished in, on itself.

Seam allowances need to be sorted out but the main, flat fabric sections aren’t terribly wrinkled, actually.

Overall, my scalloped blouse is wrinkly, but it’s not quite as bad as my violet blouse.  I was a bit frightened at how crumpled my violet blouse became after its first washing, especially the collar and collar facing pieces.

The violet blouse fabric is certainly more prone to wrinkling than the mid-weight cotton.  And even with incorporating the light-weight fusible interfacing, it doesn’t look any better than the main fabric sections.

I’ve learnt (the hard way) to select the interfacing that best complement’s the fabric’s structure.  If your garment is light weight, you certainly should NOT use a medium-weight interfacing.  So the failure of the garment to remain crisp after laundering is not due to a poor interfacing, but is primarily due to the nature of the fabric, which is as it should be.

My 50’s scalloped blouse does look wrinkled, but it’s not terrible.  The buttonhole placket has held up better than the buttoned-side of the blouse because the holes themselves have provided a bit of structure to the neighboring placket area.  Would it have looked crisper after washing…. maybe.  But I’m not 100% certain that it would.

What I think the more important question is: How does the garment look after being ironed?

 

Violet Blouse Post-Ironing:

This light weight fabric is quite easy to press, but it wrinkles up faster than linen.  Well… nothing wrinkles faster than linen but this one comes in at a close 2nd.

I was able to press the fabric out but what’s bad is that all of the places where I interfaced, I couldn’t get the stubborn wrinkles out.  Can you see the 2 long vertical fold lines on the button bands? On the left, with the button holes there is a fold to the left of the button holes and on the right, there is a fold happening down, between all of the buttons.

You can see the vertical creases easier on the inside of the blouse.  What was also stubborn is the facing.  I got it mainly wrinkle-free but it doesn’t want to lay flat at all.

Detailed view of the violet blouse:

See the vertical folds now?  They wouldn’t go away no matter how much I pressed it.  Ugh!

Overall:

The small surface wrinkles on my Violet blouse came out quite easily, but there is no hope for the deeper folds unless I resort to starch or the dry cleaners.  It’s not bad enough for me to not wear it, but I was surprised that the most stubborn wrinkles appeared where I had put in iron-on interfacing and won’t come out.

 

Scalloped Blouse Post-Ironing:

It doesn’t look too bad, just like a normal blouse.

Below, is a close-up of the scalloped peplum.  There are some stubborn wrinkles that I was not able to get out along the edges of the scallops but they aren’t too bad.  The fabric print itself helps hide the minor wrinkles which is nice.

You may or may not be able to see from this image, but the edges aren’t very crisp on this blouse and are somewhat wavy at points.

I threw this one in as proof that there is a center back seam.  :)

Overall, this blouse ironed up pretty decently with no major issues.

The fabric doesn’t press as crisply, as I would have liked but I knew this going in when I was first pressing the fabric before cutting out my pattern pieces.  What’s good is that the blouse doesn’t seem to be affected, in the least, by omitting the interfacing on the neckline or button band facing pieces.

Overall:

Some of the surface wrinkles were stubborn on the scalloped blouse, which is what I was anticipating since they were also stubborn after I had pre-washed the fabric.  This blouse could benefit from a light spray starch to get a nice, crisp look.  But I myself am not a fan of that look unless it’s on a ‘gent.  All in all, I think the scalloped blouse held up quite nicely, sans interfacing.

As I was telling Sara, if I were making version A on the scalloped blouse (with a separate, folded collar) I believe I would use interfacing that is suitable to the fabric to give the collar structure.  But I wouldn’t add interfacing just to help the garment be crisp after washing.

Special Note:

I didn’t use any starch nor did I treat the two blouses any differently than I normally would.  I used the same cotton setting on my iron with steam, to avoid any bias of one blouse to the other.  Since I wear these to work, I do aim to get them as wrinkle-free as possible, but I’m not doing anything special.

 

My final opinion/conclusion:

There isn’t ONE way to do anything with sewing (as it is with most other crafts), and you should make your decisions on a case by case basis.  I think the fabric, first and foremost should dictate the type of interfacing to use.  But it’s the project combined with the style/look you want to achieve which will tell you if you want to use interfacing in the first place.

Would I have done anything differently now, after I’ve seen it washed & pressed?  No probably not.  My violet blouse needed the interfacing since the fabric was too light to support the buttons and button holes.  But I was surprised that the deep folds wouldn’t press out after washing.  I was also quite happy that my scalloped blouse held up nicely without the interfacing.  I took my first gamble to go sans-interfacing and the blouse doesn’t seem to be affected (negatively) one bit.

 

Thoughts on interfacing or any washing woes?  Or do you have any good tips to get out those stubborn wrinkles on my violet blouse?

 

My fav line from Sara:

Now that we’ve talked it out, I can see how a shirt that has a neckline that doesn’t have a separate collar, might need only a good ironing.

Mind you I only wrote one response to Sara about why I use/don’t use interfacing.  So her last line came across really sweet since she was doing most of the talking.  :)

Thanks Sara for sharing your thoughts.  I hope you like my post dedicated to your comment.

  1. Sully Liz / Jul 5 2012

    Oh man, thank you for this! I have several woven cotton blouses (me-made and RTW!) that come out of the wash very wrinkly. It drives me nuts because I feel like it’s my fault for not doing something properly. Ironing without proper tools was hellish, but I’ve been more dedicated to the cause and I do appreciate my clothes more because of that. Great post!!

    • Liz / Jul 5 2012

      Hey Liz! One thing I didn’t mention was interfacing quality. I’m not certain yet if the stubborn wrinkles won’t come out due to the quality of the interfacing. While I don’t think I used a sub-standard quality interfacing, this may play a part.
      I’m hoping that with more blouses I make (with differing types of interfacing) I will know for sure, either way.

  2. Sara / Jul 5 2012

    I am, indeed, very grateful for your post and all the photos! You should run the Sewing Arts Laboratory, you are so clear and thorough. Many, many thanks.

    • Liz / Jul 5 2012

      Yay! I’m glad you liked it. :)

      What is the Sewing Arts Laboratory?

  3. Dana Tougas / Jul 5 2012

    Thanks for this post! While I’m still very new to sewing, this has been very informative. I’m still learning the difference in interfacing types as I go through with my sewing projects. I’ve also seen the same issues as your violet blouse for years on my RTW clothes and it’s always frustrating that I can’t get it iron out correctly.

    • Liz / Jul 5 2012

      Hi Dana! I’m happy you found this post informative.

      I should state, it took me a little while to learn which type of interfacing to use for the project/fabric. I had some really bad moments when I was starting and truthfully, it’s always fun learning process, even now.

      One thing I would do is test out your iron-on interfacing on some of your fabric scraps before you do the real thing. This enables you to see how the interfaced piece it will look and feel. The glue seems to make the fabric crisper after ironing than pre-ironed. So testing it out is key! :)

      Also make sure to not only handle the interfaced piece, but hold two pieces of fabric together. Most likely, you will have the interfaced piece together with the outter piece so there’s more thickness and ‘look/feel’ than just the one interfaced piece.

      Happy sewing!

  4. LLBB / Jul 5 2012

    timely post — I recently washed my Lonsdale and was disappointed in how the waistband wrinkled, even after pressing. As a result, I have been slow to start my Cambie because I am wary of the same thing. I am assuming it is because I haven’t used fancy interfacing. I don’t know too much about interfacing, but I used whatever they had at Joann, so it seems a fair assumption that it’s nothing too special :) I re-read Gertie’s recent post and am considering ordering something new and nicer to use for the Cambie. I am curious if other readers have further comments as to quality of interfacings, or any recommendations for ones they’ve found to work well.

    • Liz / Jul 5 2012

      Hey Beile! Thanks so much for your comment.

      I generally always add in some type of interfacing to waistbands of my garments, whether it be woven iron-on, a silk organza, or horsehair canvas. When I don’t use any, I too am disatisfied with the results. I too have recently bought the interfacing that Gertie recommended from Fashion Sewing Supply. When I got it in the mail, the interfacings felt really nice and soft, not like the stiff scratchy kind that I’ve bought at JoAnn’s.

      I know I used Fashion Sewing Supply’s light weight fusible interfacing on my Quaker Oats Dress (facing) and the light weight weft (collar and bow) but this won’t be a dress that will go in the washing machine and will get extra special treatment by going to my green-dry cleaners. But it went in very nicely and resulted in a soft-looking collar which is what I wanted.

      I’ll see about using in my next collared blouse that will go in the wash. :)

  5. Meli / Jul 9 2012

    I’ve come to the conclusion quite recently that an iron is one of the most important tools a sewer can use. Ironing between steps makes such a huge difference on how a garment turns out!

  6. llynnda / Apr 3 2013

    I arrived at your web site after googleing “wrinkled button bands”. This drives me crazy and has for years. I used to make all the clothes the family wore but am now approaching 70 and quilting is much more fun so I can’t really comment with expertise about current interfacings. My biggest beef at this point is purchased men’s and women’s shirts. No matter who how or what every shirt comes out with a permanent pleat down the middle of both the buttonhole and button bands. If the woman’s shirt has a separate facing as opposed to a fold over band it is even worse because the whole facing folds over from shoulder to hem.
    I didn’t mean to rant but this is the first time that I have found a place that someone knows what I am talking about. I know there is no solution other than wearing knit T-shirts and that is not an option. Thanks for lending your ears. Llynnda

    • Liz / Apr 9 2013

      Hey Llynnda! Thanks so much for leaving me this comment. I’ve been taking much more care on my bands and facings to ensure I don’t leave any edges *raw* since I know now that they’ll get completely rumpled in the wash. But that only partially helps.

      I’ve recently tried mixing 2 parts water with 1 part vinegar before pressing stubborn wrinkles out in some fabric. You should try it on your button bands to try to tame the wrinkles, post washing.

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