Beth Smith

Washing a 100% Cotton Skirt

I have spent a good part of the last 15 years learning and then teaching pothers about washing natural fibers. My ficus was wool but in my spinning life I was making yarn from lots of other types of natural fibers. All of that spinning experience led to some experimenting with how to wash the yarns and then the fabrics made from the yarns.

I want to do a series of blog posts about washing clothing made from these fibers that I got to work with and become intimately familiar with sometimes just one strand or a handful of fiber at a time. I’m beginning with cotton because it is the fabric I have been working with the most recently and it is what most of my skirts are currently made of although I am going to be adding some more skirts made from fabrics that most people would consider special occasion fabrics. I say that because, if you know me, you know that I think most fabrics are fine for every day if they are styled right.

The great thing about skirts is that they definitely don’t need to be washed after each wearing. I often wear them three or 4 times between washing unless I drop chocolate on them….

I am not against using the washing machine for many fabrics and I do think that cold water is the best choice for keeping colors intact for as long as possible.

This striped skirt had a bit of chocolate (see what I mean?) so I treated it with a bit of stain remover before I threw it in with the other four skirts I wanted to wash. I like to set the machine to tap cold but just regular cold works too. Add some laundry detergent and let it go.

When you take the clothes out of the washer do a little snap and straighten them out as much as possible and hang them up to dry

I almost never use the dryer for my handmade clothes. The dryer is what does most damage to clothes. The hot air causes the fabric to shrink and elastic to wear out faster. The tumbling action is very rough on your clothes too and when they get wrapped around each other they get tugged and pulled out of shape. 

If you must use the dryer make sure you use the low temperature. But line dry what you can or lay them out on a drying rack.  This will help your clothes last longer and look their best.

I do use a hot iron on my cotton clothes. I like to have a spray bottle of water nearby to help with any wrinkles that aren’t removed easily. When it’s all pressed and ready, just put your skirt on and twirl to your heart’s content!

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