I haven’t squeezed in much time in front of the sewing machine recently. To be honest, I got a little discouraged after spending so long before the holidays meticulously cutting out my husband’s plaid shirt only to realize as I was sewing it together that one of the side seams doesn’t match. All of the other vertical seams do match, including the all-important front center seam across the button placket, which I should have taken as a small triumph. But, their matchy-matchiness proves that, despite all of my care, I managed to cut out the shirt so that there’s a subtle spiral to the horizontal plaid line that starts and finishes at that one poor unmatched seam.
And, the bias yoke looks a bit off kilter.
Somehow I must have had my grain line ever so slightly off.
My husband won’t notice or care, but it hurts that I won’t be able to give him a perfect shirt. Plus, I’m supposed to be learning to sew well, right?
When I first realized what had happened, there was a moment when I wondered why I even sew, why I even fuss with making him nice shirts when he has a closet full of fancy wrinkle-free shirts already.
That thought led me to wonder what exactly made his wrinkle-free shirts wrinkle free…
That thought led me to this New York Times article.
In a nutshell, to keep fabric from wrinkling when it’s washed, it’s first bathed in a resin that locks its fibers in place (yay chemistry!). The downside is that that resin also happens to release a not-so-friendly compound called formaldehyde (boo chemistry).
Have you heard of formaldehyde? It’s a simple compound made up of two hydrogens bound to a carbon that’s double-bonded to an oxygen. Even if you haven’t taken any chemistry or have chosen to forget all of the chemistry you have taken, I’m sure you’ve heard of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. According to wiki, formaldehyde is used to embalm and is also often found in nail hardeners and nail polish. It acts as an adhesive in plywood and carpet. It gives paper products such as tissues, napkins, and paper towels their resiliency to tearing when wet. And, it’s a known human carcinogen.
If you’re a fan of wrinkle-free shirts, the internet just seems to suggest that you wash brand-new shirts before wearing them. But, according to this fact sheet, if you notice irritation in your eyes or nose or a rash on your skin when you’re wearing wrinkle-free garments, then perhaps you might be more sensitive to formaldehyde or you might have ended up with an article of clothing that’s giving off a bit more formaldehyde than it should.
Maybe I am glad that I sew?!