Our general recommendation for cotton, linen and Tencel is to machine wash cold (30°C) and hang to dry. Gentle wash is especially important in order to avoid wear on printed fabrics. Iron prints on wrong side of fabric.
Silk and wool typically need dry cleaning or hand washing if not blended with other fibres. Wool, however, rarely needs washing as it contains lanolin that repels dirt. Airing out wool, preferably in humid air, is often enough to keep it fresh. If hanging it outdoors is not an option, a bathroom after showering will do.
For silks and wools that tolerate machine washing (delicate/wool cycle), make sure not to fill the machine more than halfway, use low temperature and a dedicated gentle detergent. Never use fabric softener on wool. Hang to dry.
Pre-wash (short version)
As a rule of thumb, fabrics should be pre-washed the same way as you plan to treat the final garment. This is our official recommendation.
Pre-wash (long version)
However, using a little more heat and agitation when pre-washing may sometimes be beneficial as it helps to shrink and soften your fabric. Try at your own risk – if concerned about your fabric, you may want to try on a smaller piece first.
Cotton, linen and Tencel may generally be pre-washed at 40°C. Heavier cottons that need softening and shrink-prone fabrics such as flannel and double gauze may benefit from machine drying or multiple washes before use.
Sandra Betzina is a sewing instructor, Vogue pattern designer and writer. Her recommendation for softer, less wrinkly linen with more drape is the following three steps: press the fabric with a dry hot iron, prewash in a hot machine wash and tumble dry hot, removing your fabric when almost completely dry.
Wools may be pretreated by dry cleaning, which is convenient for large amounts or delicate fabrics. If you want to do it yourself, there are several methods: steaming with an iron, tumble drying with damp towels or the London Shrink Method – rolling up fabric in damp sheets and letting it air dry.