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A Handy Guide To Caring For Your Cashmere

You may have visited Fabworks Online during our latest Birthday celebrations and seen the amazing Cashmere Pieces, Bundles & Lengths we had available. Each item was one of one and absolutely unique! Congratulations if you bagged yourself some gorgeousness!

You may even be lucky enough to own one of our stunning Cashmere Scarves or have gifted it to a loved one (or plan to this Christmas) make sure you point them in the direction of this guide, this information is still useful for premade garments & items too.

Read on to find a brief care guide to help you treasure your cashmere goodies for as long as possible.

Enjoy & happy sewing!

Caring For Cashmere

All the high end clothing and fabric manufacturers recommend that cashmere fabric should only be dry cleaned. For the home sewist, however, this can make life difficult, since many dry cleaners are very reluctant to take fabrics without an official care label (to cover themselves in case things do not end up as desired). Cashmere can be washed (by hand), but it is also at the owner’s risk. What follows here are recommendations from our own experience handling such fibres, and cannot be taken as a guarantee, for legal purposes.

Washing cashmere has variables, since not all cashmere cloth is the same weight or finish. I have washed pieces of a variety of Fabworks’ very high end cashmere and the ‘easiest’ seem to be the soft, almost lambswool types, rather than those like ultra fine melton, which require more work and yes, do make it feel a little scary to wash. If I was making a piece of heavier cashmere outerwear that would rarely be washed, I might not prewash at all and instead just try and persuade a dry cleaner to clean the garment if it ever needed it. If the fabric might face a greater danger of spills, or be closer to the skin and need more regular cleaning, I would prewash, but cashmere ought to be washed rarely, not regularly...

I would also say that washing cashmere is a process that requires time and care, mostly in the drying and ironing element, but it is worth it. You are dealing with a fabric that takes a lot of time and effort to produce, and it deserves to be treated as such. From my experience, here is how to wash your cashmere fabric.

Guide

Wash in water barely more than tepid temperature, with sparing use of a proprietary washing liquid designed for cashmere and silk. I used about a quarter of a cap full for the prewash.

Press the fabric into the water and squeeze it gently so that all the fabric is fully saturated. NEVER RUB. When you immerse your precious cashmere in water and saturate it, you will wonder if you have ruined it. Panic not, since as it dries it comes back to life. Squeeze out the excess water and NEVER WRING, other than within a towel before drying.

Rinse in fresh water, at a similar temperature but slightly cooler than the soapy water, and use the same method of gentle squeezing. Using cooler water means you can also feel if the fabric piece is still warmer in places and thus not rinsed through. With very little fabric wash involved, one rinse should suffice at prewash, but if you think the water is quite cloudy, rinse again.

Squeeze out as much water as possible, and ideally roll the fabric in a large towel and then wring the towel to draw out more water before drying.

DRY FLAT, at least until the fabric is only slightly damp and not liable to be stretched by the weight of water in it. The appearance of the fabric might be disconcerting at this stage, as though creased and lumpy. It does change with drying, however, especially with the more ‘ultra fine melton’ style dense cashmere.

I have found it best to give cashmere an initial iron when far wetter than you would normally consider. It should still feel ‘heavy’ with moisture, just not at the dripping stage. Iron it with your iron on between 1* and 2* ( where 3* is the hottest and for cottons). To be safe, begin a little cooler and if you feel you can increase the heat, nudge it up but never above 2*. You know your iron. Iron first on the reverse side to draw a little more moisture from it, then turn over and press on the nap side, ALWAYS WITH THE NAP, though you can ’sweep’ to the side if reaching a raw edge, to avoid pushing it and creating a fray. I use a firm pressure but a sweeping/stroking motion. It smooths the nap but does not singe it. If you are getting a hiss, your iron is too hot. Press several times to reduce the ‘erratic ridges’ that seem to form in the closer weaves. With the softer, more draping weaves, you can afford to leave the fabric longer before first ironing. This stage is not to have it dry, but to encourage it to dry with a nice even nap.

Return to drying flat and repeat the process when the fabric feels only slightly weightier than when dry. Final drying can be done over an ‘Annie’ style dryer if you have one. Do not put on top of a radiator unless it is a small piece of fabric at the point of ‘just needing an airing’.

Give the fabric a final press when dry.

Does washing change the feel of the cashmere? Well, in the case of the fabric where I had two pieces (a softer, draping one) I can honestly say that when one was washed and pressed and the other still to wash, I got them confused and only avoided washing the same piece twice when I realised it was a slightly different length. With the more ‘ultra fine melton’ style I think there is a very slight change in the feel, and if you let it dry too much before first pressing, in the look. With a small piece where that happened, I re-wetted with spray from my iron, and began the pressing again.

Bonne chance!

Disclaimer

This blog article has been written in-house by members of the Fabworks team, using our own experience & knowledge for handling such fibres. This is only a guide for caring for your cashmere pieces and garments. We recommend you do your own testing & washing before committing yourself to washing the entire piece of fabric.

Fabworks cannot be held responsible for the treatment and care of your cashmere, we are here to help & advise only.