Like various things that we use in daily routine, garments can also last for an extended period of time, if simple precautions are taken during the manufacturing. If the clothes have some problems, it doesn't necessarily mean they will look worse or fit worse. However, one of the problems that can make an amazing garment look appalling is of fabric shrinkage. In absence of proper shrinking, fabrics cannot be used to make garments. In fact preshrinking is a step that must not be missed at any cost. Preshrinking reduces the residual shrinkage to a much lower percentage, even if it cannot completely eliminate shrinkage.
Depending on the material used in the fabric, preshrinking process can reduce the shrinkage. In case of cotton, preshrinking can generally take away 8-10 percent shrinkage, leaving about 5-6 percent of the same. If a good job is done on the fabric, it may bring down the shrinking to 4 percent, which is accepted in the trade.
In certain fabrics like rayon, normal preshrinking process cannot bring the shrinkage down by itself. It is a natural tendency of rayon to shrink each time it is washed. That is why the method of resin finish is applied to control the shrinkage. Resin finish is to stabilize the fibre to make it shrinkage and crease resistant. It is usually applied on cent percent cotton fabrics or cent percent rayon woven fabrics because shrinkage of these fabrics can go out of control.
In some cases dry cleaning is recommended by the manufacturers on the care label to avoid any shrinkage. However these methods are not satisfactory because when resin is applied to the fabric, it reduces the residual shrinkage, but it leaves the fabric less soft. Besides when the resin is washed away in a few washing, the problem of shrinking starts again. Apart from resin procedure, usually dry cleaning is recommended, which is very expensive. This has encourage the garment buyers, to use garment wash in order to get rid of the shrinkage and at the same time get a washed look on the garment which is desirable.
A novel method known as beater method is also being employed by the industries to control shrinking. Beater method has been formulated to pre-shrink the fabric starting from desiring and bleaching. After application of beater method, the normal pre-shrinking process can be applied to control the residual shrinkage. This can lessen the shrinkage by about 5-6 percent which is an acceptable level.
When ordering a fabric, it is better to discuss the possible shrinkage problem with the manufacturer. In case of cotton that includes denim, twill, canvas, calico, sheeting and flannel, the total shrinkage varies from 10-16 percent, with denim and twill shrinking by 12-16 percent and remaining fabrics shrinking by 10-14 percent. The kind of fabric under rayon includes twill and sheeting and shrinking percent is 16-20. The Ramie fabric can shrink by 8-12 percent, while ramie/cotton mix shrinks by 9-12 percent. The wool, including all kinds of wool, the shrinkage is maximum ranging from 15 to 25 percent. The minimum shrinkage of 0-2 percent is seen in cent percent polyester fabric and cent percent nylon fabric.
It is significant to understand that shrinkage on cent percent ramie and ramie/cotton blend is controllable. Ordinary preshrinking process can bring down the shrinkage by 3-5 percent. Another fabric that creates major problem of shrinkage is woollen. While washing the woollens, care must be taken not to use hot water, as it can result into 30 percent shrinkage. If wool is mixed with some other fibres, the shrinkage may improve. If the fabric is of pure wool then it must be dry cleaned only. Wool mixed with polyester or acrylic, is usually washable in cool water. Apart from the regular fabrics, there are also leather garments. Leather shrinks tremendously if washed and dried by heat. When leather is used in garments, for purpose of design as a patch, garment must be dried in tumble dryer till it is completely dry. Garments containing leather must be washed in normal way, but should be dried up to 80 percent and air dry the remaining 20 percent without heat.
With consumers becoming aware about the problems of fabric shrinkage, the manufacturers are now increasingly focusing on pre-washed garments. The concept of pre-shrinkage was formulated by Stanford L Cluett of America. He registered a trademark 'Sanforized' which meant that the fabric used in garment has gone through a registered process and the garment is shrinkage controlled. These days this trademark is not seen on the garment labels, because most garments are now pre-washed as part of manufacturing process.
Preshrinking the fabric is a simple process that assures that whatever is the final product, it stays the same size that it was sewn in. Fabric shrinking after stitching can lead to furrowed seams, as the fabric shrinks but not the seam. The textile industry is persistent to provide best services to the consumers, following which, the garments that go through the preshrink process also carry wash care labels. The problem of fabric shrinkage is now managed by the manufacturers and consumers can buy the garment, assured that it will not create problems in future.