When sewing a garment or décor accessory, keep a remnant of fabric and attach the washing and care instructions to it for future use. When you buy fabric, ask the shop assistant if you can see what the fabric is made of. If you are unsure about the content of a piece of fabric, you could also conduct this simple test at home: Carefully pull out a thread from the corner and, using a cigarette lighter, burn the thread. (Make sure you hold it over an ovenproof pan so you can put it down quickly and blow out the flame.) If the thread catches fire and forms a flame, the fabric is pure cotton. If the fabric crumbles, melts or forms a plastic coating, then it has a synthetic content. Note Light only one thread and not the entire piece of material, and blow out the naked flame immediately.
Washing and drying
It’s best to wash delicate items by hand, separately from other items. Do not use harsh detergents and make sure the water is either cold or lukewarm, not hot. Carefully soak the item, rinse and gently squeeze out the excess water. Place the item in a towel and gently roll up the towel to absorb the water you were unable to wring out by hand. Do not hang the item on the washing line - rather lay it on a towel on a flat surface and leave to dry away from direct sunlight.
Never bleach delicate fabrics – bleach is so harsh that it will destroy the fibres in the fabric. Liquids such as white-wine vinegar or diluted lemon juice are good replacements to use instead of bleach on delicate fabrics.
If an item is made of pure cotton, it’s easier to press it while slightly damp. Cotton creases very easily and it can be difficult to remove all the creases when dry, even with a steam iron. If the item has lace inserts or cutouts, place a piece of pure cotton on top so the tip of the iron doesn’t catch in the lace or the stitching. Carefully press the fabric on the correct setting, lifting the iron up and down rather than dragging it over the cloth. Any fabric with a synthetic content must be pressed with a very cool iron, otherwise the heat will melt the fabric and the item will be ruined. You could also place a piece of cotton cloth over the item, but you will still have to keep the setting low to prevent the synthetic item from smouldering or sticking to the covering cloth.
TOP TIP: Wash and rinse delicate items in a pillowcase to avoid catching the fine threads. Remove the item from the pillowcase after washing and leave to dry on a flat surface away from direct sunlight.