Does Shweshwe require a pre-wash? Short answer: YES!
- In the old days all cotton textiles were coated with a starch solution to protect the fibres from rot, bugs and vermin.
- Shweshwe is a heritage product still made the same way as in the industrial revolution.
- Shweshwe requires a pre-wash before cutting and sewing.
How do I pre-wash Shweshwe?
- Soak your Shweshwe fabric in warm water and hang it out to dry: plain and simple.
- The sizing is water-soluble and will dissolve in warm water.
- No detergents or washing machine required.
- If you choose to use the washing machine, it may be better to serge the edges of the fabric to reduce fraying from the agitation of the machine.
How do I fix the colour for indigo Shweshwe?
- After the pre-wash you may do a rinse in lukewarm salty water to fix the colour of indigo prints, if you choose.
- You may use Colour Catcher sheets with Shweshwe.
Does Shweshwe shrink?
- All fabrics with sizing shrink when they are pre-washed.
- The sizing coats the weave and when the sizing dissolves out, the weave settles and becomes stable in its new state.
- Average shrinkage: Warp – 9.5% Weft – 0.7%
How do I wash Shweshwe items once they are sewn?
Cold water wash is recommended for patchwork, because there may be multiple colours in one item.
Standard wash and care suggestions from the manufacturer:
- Wash separately
- 40 degree Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) wash
- Do not bleach
- Do not use dryer
- Do not dry clean
- Warm iron