How To Shrink A Jumper And Make It Fit You Perfectly!

Has your old favourite sweater stretched and become saggy? Or maybe you ordered one that is too big and fails to fit you well? You may already know how to unshrink some of your clothes, but what about shrinking them without damages? The good news is there is a solution and we have the answers on how to shrink a jumper!

Woman choosing pastel warm cozy sweaters on hangers

Did you know that the shrunken sweater syndrome is quite common? Some clothes can be easier to shrink than others. For example, a cotton t-shirt may slim moderately in the washing machine, while a wool sweater can become too small to wear if you are not careful. Do you want to make your jumper fit you right and avoid the risk of destroying it? Keep on reading to find all you need to know to shrink your sweaters and follow the proper method according to their material!

Can you make clothes smaller without sewing?

Do you want to make your clothes smaller but don’t want to mess with tailoring and the sewing machine? The good news is that you can take simple actions to make a big jumper shrink without resorting to expensive alterations. Just keep in mind; it mostly depends on the fabric of the clothing.

Applying heat is the best way to shrink most fabrics. You may also do that only to the places where you want the shrinkage to help you control the process. Combining heat with moisture will be even more effective. The combination of these 2 relaxes the tension in fabrics and can cause threads to shorten. Washing in hot water and drying in high temperatures will also work. Be careful though; whichever method you choose, you should watch the garment closely during the process. It’s also best to start with low heat and then increase the temperature, especially when working with delicate fabrics.

Fabrics that shrink and those that don’t

Some fabrics are more prone to shrinkage than others, mostly natural fibres. Here is a list of materials that can shrink with the suitable methods:

  1. Wool
  2. Cotton
  3. Silk
  4. Linen
  5. Cashmere
  6. Mohair
  7. Boucle
  8. Organza
  9. Georgette
  10. Dupioni silk
  11. Thai silk
  12. Rayon
  13. Angora

The ones that resist shrinking are synthetic fabrics, like polyester, acrylic and nylon, so you should better not spend your time on them. Also, you should not try to shrink clothes labelled “dry clean only”, fur, leather, suede, beaded fabric, upholstery fabric, canvas, PVC and ripstop nylon. 

Polyester fabric Clothing label with laundry instructions. label with care symbols and material content on polyester shirt, close up.

Shrinking a jumper using a washer and dryer

A shrinking process that is very effective is through hot water. What you’ll need is your washing machine and dryer to reshape any fabric, except wool. Washing a wool sweater in the machine can make it stiff. Find here all you need to do.

Step 1: Set your washing machine to the highest temperature setting

  • If you are not sure what the different temperature options are, you should check the manual that came with the washer. 
  • The water should be between 5 and 80 °C.
  • A temperature higher than 81 °C could alter the original shape of your jumper.

Step 2: Wash the jumper on a short cycle for 15 to 30 minutes

To prevent any damage to the fabric, you should run it through a quick cycle in the machine. If the jumper is dirty, use a bleach-free detergent as you normally would. However, if you want to shrink a clean jumper, you’ll only need water. If you want to keep it from snagging on the machine’s interior, you may also place it in a pillowcase

Step 3: Tumble dry the jumper on low heat

Place your jumper in the dryer and set it to a low heat setting, like this for delicates or permanent press. Using a high heat setting can be too harsh on the fabric after the high water wash cycle. To get the right amount of shrinkage and alter the original size, you may have to repeat the entire wash and dry cycle multiple times. Garments are less likely to shrink the first time you try.

close up to woman's hand setting temperature in dryer

Shrinking a jumper by hand

The wetter your jumper is before you dry it, the smaller it will be after it dries. So, if you don’t want to shrink your fabric very much, you should just try spritzing it with water. Using this method, you can also shrink wool and cotton fabrics or any other delicate material. Keep on reading to find out how to shrink clothes by hand.

Step 1: Place the jumper in a plastic tub or bucket filled with warm water

  • Fill the tub with enough water to cover the jumper. 
  • Swish the jumper around in the tub to ensure it’s completely saturated.
  • The water shouldn’t be too hot since it could damage any delicate fabric.

Step 2: Let your jumper soak in the water for at least 6 hours

Leaving the jumper soak will make it easier for you to shape it later. You can leave it in the water for longer, even overnight. Just don’t let it soak for more than 24 hours, or it would start to mildew. To make sure all of it is getting wet, stir the jumper around occasionally.

Step 3: Remove the jumper from the tub and press the water out of it

You should not wring or twist the fabric, or it could ruin the material or stretch it out even more. Just place it in the sink and then use your palms to squeeze out any excess water. You may also press a clean towel onto it to soak up some of the moisture. The result should be a damp material and not a soaking wet one.

Step 4: Lay your jumper on a drying rack and shape the areas you want to shrink

With your hands, arrange the jumper into its proper shape. You should not hang a wet jumper on a hanger or a clothesline. If you do so, the material’s weight will pull it down and cause it to lose its shape. If you don’t have a drying rack, lay it on a towel on a flat surface, like the machine’s top.

Woman hanging clean laundry on drying rack in bathroom, closeup

Step 5: Allow your jumper to dry completely before wearing it

How long does it take for your jumper to dry? Well, it depends on the fabric, size, weight, and even the temperature of your home. Cool, damp conditions or thicker materials will increase the drying time. You can also use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process. Move it back and forth over your sweater so you won’t burn any areas, and be careful not to touch the wet fabric with the hairdryer itself.

Shrinking with an iron

High heat coming from boiling water and iron is a powerful tool in your quest to find out how to shrink a 100% cotton sweater. Keep in mind that this method may not work for a preshrunk garment. Find here what you need to do.

Step 1: Put your sweater in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes

  • Fill a tall pot with water while leaving room for your sweater. 
  • Let the water come to a boil, and then add the sweater.
  • Let it boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add to the water 240 mL of white vinegar to prevent the colours from fading.

Step 2: Remove your sweater from the pot and absorb excess water with a towel

Blot your wet sweater until it’s no longer dripping wet. Another option is to roll it up inside the towel to squeeze the water out.

Step 3: Iron your sweater on high heat for 5 minutes

Place your jumper flat on the ironing board and cover it with a cloth, like a towel, to protect it from heat damage. If you have an iron with a steam function, you can use that by filling it with water and letting it warm up before ironing your garment.

How to prevent your knitwear from shrinking

Now that your jumper has regained its proper shape, do you want to keep it that way? Find here how:

  1. Always hand wash wool clothes or run them through the machine on the wool, gentle, or hand wash cycle
  2. It’s also best to use a mild detergent designed to clean wool.
  3. Wash wool sweaters in cold water
  4. Avoiding the dryer and preferring to let them air dry will also be the best thing to do.
close up to woman wearing a grey sweater and smiling with eyes closed

Are you tired of spending a lot of money having your clothes altered and tailored to fit? No need to do that anymore! Although most people do whatever they can to avoid shrinking their clothes,  there are some times when doing so can come in handy. In the post above, we’ve just discussed the 3 most effective methods for shrinking a jumper. As you can see, all of them are super-easy for anyone to do and require just a few simple steps. All you have to do is to make sure to use the ideal method for the specific type of fabric. Have you started shrinking your jumper already?

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