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Why Does Fabric Shrink ?

At Yorkshire Fabric Shop, we understand how disappointing it can be when you find your perfect fabric but then you spill your cup of tea all over it. So what do you do? Pop it into the washing machine and brew another cup while you wait. When the machine has finished, the stain has gone but your fabric is half its original size.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop Why Does Fabric Shrink

Why fabric shrinks can be difficult to understand, there are a lot of contributing factors such as the nature of the fibres, character of the threads or the number of washes. Fabric shrinkage can be the cause of seam puckering, warping of fabric and stitching distortion. Woven fabrics are less susceptible to shrinkage than knitted fabrics.

There are 3 main types of fabric shrinkage:

Felting Shrinkage – This type of shrinkage occurs with animal hair fibres, like wool. These fabrics have scales along their surface and when exposed to moisture and high temperatures these scales tighten and squeeze together. This results in fabric shrinkage.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop Why Does Fabric Shrink

Relaxation Shrinkage – A less destructive form, this happens when fabric is exposed to liquids or moisture. When fabric is in contact with water, the fibres relax and if the fabric is absorbent (typically natural fibres like cotton, silk or linen) then the fibres will swell, causing the fabric to shrink marginally.

Consolidation shrinkage – This type of shrinkage is commonly associated with washing machines and tumble dryers as it occurs when fabric is exposed to moisture, heat and agitation. This shrinkage will see a dramatic change in both width and length. Natural fibres, such as cotton, wool and linen are at more risk of shrinkage compared with man-made fibres like polyester, acrylic and nylon. These synthetic fibres are more stable because they are pre-treated with heat to set the fibres and stabilise the weave or knit.

Unfortunately you cannot effectively reverse fabric shrink, so it is important to understand what causes the fabric to shrink and how it varies for every fabric. Follow any care instructions provided with the fabric to avoid any disasters.

Yorkshire Fabric Shop Why Does Fabric Shrink

At Yorkshire Fabric Shop we have thousands of fabrics available with a fantastic range of designs. Our fabrics can be used for cushions, made-to-measure curtains and even upholstery. From leather to velvet, cotton to linen we have got it covered, we even offer FREE samples. Use our fabric finder to choose the best fabric and design for your project; you can even visit our warehouse to take a look first hand at all of our designs. Contact us on 01924 728 753, email or use our online contact form.


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