Always Pre-Shrink

I spent all of this afternoon fusing fabric pieces for the Weekend Duffel project. Here’s all the pieces of the yellow bag fused, right before starting work on the blue bag.


I approached all this fusible interfacing with trepidation, because fusible interfacing has a tendency to bubble and ruin projects. I was especially worried about the fusible fleece, after reading this article that was really critical of the stuff, showing a picture of a handbag ruined by bubbling fleece interfacing.

It turned out the fusible fleece didn’t give me trouble at all – it fused to the canvas pieces without causing any problems. The lining pieces, fused with Pellon SF-101 woven interfacing, were a different story. I didn’t pre-shrink the interfacing because of the yardages involved, but when I misted the cut pieces of SF-101 interfacing at the ironing board, I could actually watch them shrink.

The gray lining fabric gave me minor problems with bubbling, but the navy blue lining fabric gave me some significant bubbling on the wrong side. Here’s how one of the pocket flaps bubbled:


What was odd, was that the bubbling wasn’t visible on the right side:


Then I noticed that the fabric was smaller than the interfacing – this wasn’t the case before fusing them.

That was the moment I discovered the ugly truth.

Not pre-shrinking the interfacing was the least of my mistakes. The interfacing was bubbling because the cotton-poly lining fabric had shrunk significantly, in one direction, under the steam from the iron.

This gray lining endpiece is supposed to be the same size as the yellow end panel beneath it:


The blue fabric piece below shrank from 20 inches wide to 19 inches:


And it’s twin in the gray lining fabric shrank from 20 down to 19.5 inches:


The shrinkage makes all the lining fabric unusable for both projects.

Fortunately the canvas, which I cannot replace, did not shrink.  And the lining fabric is easily replaced from the fabric store.  But it is a setback in terms of wasted time and effort.

The Weekender Travel Set

Once again, I’ve decided to expand the scope of a project.  What started as a duffel bag project is expanding into a coordinated travel ensemble.

The idea came to me while I was considering what to do with the scraps of canvas, in yellow and rocket blue, left over from cutting the duffel bags. There’s not much left, especially the yellow, but there was enough left over to make some wallets using this tutorial from Purl Bee.

Then I realized I have plenty of the black canvas left over, enough to make a dopp kit that would complement the duffel bag nicely.  From there, the idea of a coordinated travel set was born:

  • A Dopp Kit. Made from black canvas using bits of leftover colored canvas as accent.
  • A Travel Wallet. Fellow blogger David at Design Closeup has a nifty tutorial for sewing up a passport holder, which Wil at Thin Man Sewing also made up with embroidered designs.  Again, I plan to use the black canvas with colored canvas accents.
  • A Laundry Bag. Here I’ll depart from canvas. I’ve always been intrigued by ripstop nylon – it seems so technical – and so I’ll make a laundry bag from it.  The ripstop nylon will contain used underclothes, while packing up small so it will fit in a pocket of the duffel when not being used.

Together, I’ll have everything I need for a weekend getaway, or a short business trip.

Pants Fitting Update

Tomorrow, I plan on shifting gears back to the pants project, to produce a new pattern with the alterations I know are good to make.  More on that soon.

3 thoughts on “Always Pre-Shrink

  1. Michael Theisen

    That falls in the category of relearned lessons. My own example of late was melting the polyester lining as I dutifully pressed open the seams on a vest because the iron was still set to cotton fusing temp. Several expletives later…
    Looking forward to seeing the duffel. And nylon melts easily, too. Experience.

  2. SJ Kurtz

    That is….a lot of shrink. I always preshrink for clothing construction, but I’ve got a bag project and fabric I know is going to crock like hell. And probably shrink under the iron.

    Thank you for taking one for the team, so to speak. I will benefit from your example, iron the yardage I need before I cut. And thank you as I do it.

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      The Craftsy class instructor doesn’t preshrink. I had thought about pre-shrinking my canvas, but I had barely enough yardage and was concerned shrinkage might leave me with insufficient fabric.

      I figured if I wasn’t preshrinking the canvas, I wouldn’t bother to preshrink anything else. This was my lesson on just how much shrinkage you can get from a steam iron.

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