(oops; originally posted this under ‘Classified’ by mistake)

I acquired someone else’s half-finished skirt project out of a bag of scraps and put in the remaining touches, and it looked very good – apart from a crease down one side where it had been scrumpled up in the bag.

So when I was steaming the creases out of some other clothes I took the opportunity to run the steamer down one side of the skirt. To my horror, instead of smoothing out, it got worse: that area of fabric appears to have stretched under the steam (presumably shrunk; but stretched is what it looks like) and instead of draping in a smooth line the side and front hem of the skirt are now lumpy, with a bulge sticking out of one side where the crease was. (To add insult to injury, the steam only hit one side of the crease, so it actually stands out more than before!)

The fabric seems to be some kind of heavy knit, presumably artificial fibre from the way it reacted. Is there any way of rescuing this, either by soaking it and hoping its own weight will flatten it out, or by undoing the hem and seams on that side and letting the cloth drop to its new size before sewing it up again? or by some other means? Will it simply even itself out with washing?

The print is sufficiently ‘busy’ that the defect is not immediately noticeable and the skirt is still wearable, but it isn’t nearly so nice as it was – and on the first day of wearing, too.

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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Jul 31, 2012, 06.30 PMby katexxxxxx

    Try a gentle wash. Wool or handwash cycle.

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    • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

      Aug 11, 2012, 12.30 PMby harrietbazley

      I tried squeezing it rhythmically in warm water by hand for five minutes to try to redistribute the ‘lumps’, but it didn’t have any discernable effect. Close inspections showed that it was definitely a problem with shrinkage and not stretch – going by the deformation of the geometric pattern – so in desperation I tried “a hair of the dog”, pinning it out stretched straight on the ironing board and steaming the damp panels with a medium iron through a handkerchief.

      This has definitely helped a lot. I think it might have worked better if I had left the skirt to dry altogether before unpinning it, but as I could only steam a small section at a time I was too impatient to take several days over it!

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Aug 12, 2012, 06.33 AMby katexxxxxx

    This process is called ‘blocking’, and yes, steaming it this way will help. It IS much better to do it in one go, if you can make up a large enough board.

    Get a bit of MDF large enough for your largest blocking project to lie out flat.

    Cover it with a layer of tinfoil. Wrap TIGHTLY in 4 layers of pure wool blanket fabric that have been washed and tumble dried so they shrink and felt up.. You can wrap this round the front and back and staple it TIGHTLY to the edges.

    Cover equally tightly in a layer of natural colour or white cotton canvas, boil-washed to shrink and get the dressing out, then tumble dried to damp, and steamed to death to get the creases out.

    Cover the staples round the edges with a length of cotton twill tape, sewn on, so your projects won’t snag or catch.

    I use a similar method to cover my ironing board. If you cover both sides, you can block two things at once!

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