Fulling in a Front-Loading Washer

12 Dec 2012
Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn


Hi Madelyn!


I am wondering about fulling a wool fabric in my new front-loading washer. The project I'm looking at says to full for about 15 minutes. If I do that, I won't be able to check the fulling midcycle, so whatever happens in that 15 minutes will be permanent. How does one handle front-loading washers?




Hi Margaret!


This question came up when I was editing another publication and wet-finishing instructions were for a front-loading washer. I have a top-loading washer, and with it, I give myself a rule of thumb. For most wool pieces that I want to full, I wash on gentle and agitate for 5 minutes. Then I stop the machine and check the fabric. If it isn't fulled enough (it usually isn't), then I agitate for 2 more minutes and check again. I continue doing that at 2-minute intervals until I get the degree of fulling I want.


You can't do this with a front-loading washer, of course. What I think I would do if I had one is set the front loader to agitate for 5 minutes, finish the cycle, remove the fabric, and do the rest of the fulling by hand. That first 5 minutes will save me some elbow grease.


I did discover, when asking around, that front loaders differ in how much fulling happens in the same number of minutes. So I would want to figure out what that first 5 minutes in my machine might do to my fabrics by testing with some samples and taking notes.


All this discussion has made me treasure my ancient top loader. I became worried that they will become a thing of the past because of their greater water usage. However, on one recent trip to an appliance store, I saw that top loaders still exist. Not only that, but I saw one with a glass top! I'm not sure what one might see through it, but I liked the idea. If I get one someday, I will promise to save water in other ways.



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