If you're looking for effective ways how to shrink a shirt without damaging it, then we got you! Whether you found a gem in your recent trip to a vintage shop which, unfortunately, is too big for you, or you fell in love with your boyfriend's new shirt, and you want to start wearing it yourself, shrinking a shirt to a smaller size is always a great solution.
How to Shrink a Shirt Tutorial
The good news is, shrinking a shirt is actually easier than it seems. You can actually bring your new favorite shirt down a size in just a couple of hours.
However, you should take the type of fabric into consideration when learning how to shrink a t-shirt. Although you may also shrink other fabric types, cotton is the best fabric for this method. Always check the label to make sure that the shirt isn't pre-shrunk.
Best Types of Fabric Shirts to Shrink
Before you start checking how to shrink a t-shirt, you need to check the shirt's label for its fabric content. The type of fabric plays a major role in how easily a shirt can be shrunk. The best fabrics for shrinking have natural fibers.
Cotton, as mentioned above, shrinks faster than other types of fabric. It can actually shrink up to 20% of the shirt's original size. Other fabric types like polyester, linen, wool and denim can still be shrunk, too. However, you may need to make more attempts to shrink them before you achieve your desired result.
How Much Can You Shrink a Shirt?
Cotton is still the best type of fabric to shrink. But you need to take note of the fact that a cotton shirt may only shrink up to 20% of its original size. The amount of shrinkage depends on the fabric type and whether the item has been shrunk previously.
How to Shrink a Shirt, Step by Step Instructions
There are two ways how to shrink a shirt.
- Boiling method
- Washer or dryer method
1. The Boiling Method of Shrinking a Shirt
Shrinking a shirt using the boiling method is probably the easiest way to get the job done. How to shrink a t-shirt using this method can be done by following these simple steps below.
- Boil a large pot of water. Turn the stove off the moment it reaches the boiling point.
- Drop the shirt or t-shirt that you want to shrink in the boiling water and leave it there for about 5 minutes. Take note, the longer you leave the shirt in hot water, the more it will shrink. If you want to maximum shrinkage, you may leave it there for up to 20 minutes.
- Once your desired time is up, remove the t-shirt from the water. Do not forget to use tongs or wooden spoons to avoid burning yourself.
- Let it cool off, and examine the result.
- You may repeat the process as many times as you want until you achieve your desired result.
2. How to Shrink a Shirt with a Washer or Dryer
Another easy way to effectively shrink your shirt is by using the washer or dryer. Unfortunately, some people may have accidentally discovered how to shrink a t-shirt using this method by cranking up the heat on their washers and unintentionally shrinking a shirt they're not supposed to shrink. That would be heartbreaking.
Anyway, if you want to know how to shrink a shirt using this method, you may follow these simple steps below. But take into consideration that different fabric types need to be taken care of differently, as well.
Shrinking Shirts in Cotton, Denim, or Polyester
- Set your washing machine to the highest heat setting possible. By exposing the fabric to heat, the threads or the yarns will tend to relax. This will cause the threads or yarns to shorten.
- Wash the shirt or cotton t-shirt for as long as possible. You may do this by setting the washer to the longest washing cycle available. This process, which is known as consolidation shrinkage, will reshape the garment by releasing the tension from the fabric. This works really well with cotton and denim. This works on polyester threads, too, but only to some extent. The longer you wash the t-shirt in this condition, the more it will shrink.
- Set your dryer to a high cycle. Both hot water and hot air cause the fabric to condense.
- Spin dry the t-shirt in the longest cycle available. The longer the fabric is exposed to this condition, the more likely it will shrink.
- Leave the shirt in the dryer until it completely cools off. Do not air dry the clothing, as it may be less likely to shrink. In the case of denim, air drying it will even cause the fabric to stretch.
- You may repeat the process until your desired result is achieved. You may need to do this more than twice if you're trying to shrink clothing that is made of polyester fabric. Synthetic fibers are harder to shrink than cotton.
Shrinking Shirts Made of Wool
The process mentioned above is for cotton, denim, or polyester. If, however, you're looking for ways how to shrink a shirt made of wool, then there are some factors that you need to consider.
Wools are known to be very delicate. Thus, you need to be cautious in shrinking them. This is to avoid getting them damaged.
In shrinking wool fabric, you don't need to set the washer for the longest time possible. Wool is known to respond to heat easily, so putting it on a short cycle will do the trick. It will easily shrink when exposed to heat.
Consider this, too, in drying the wool fabric. Unlike cotton, wherein you're supposed to spin dry it at the hottest temperature possible, you need to dry a cotton fabric on a low heat cycle. Wool is very sensitive to heat, and it tends to shrink quickly, so you need to dry it in the shortest cycle possible under a low temperature.
You also need to check on the garment every now and then to make sure that it is shrinking evenly on all parts. Since wool clothing is pretty thick, it has the tendency not to shrink evenly on all sides.
If you have shrunk your wool clothing way too much by any chance, do not freak out! You can still bring it back to its normal size by immediately soaking it in cool water. Leave the fabric in the cool water for maybe thirty minutes. When it has completely cooled off, dry it by wrapping a towel over it. That's basically how to shrink a t-shirt made of wool fabric.
How to Shrink a Shirt Made of Silk
If you are to shrink a silk fabric, you need to follow certain rules for that, as well. Silk is pretty delicate, and throwing it in the washer can be rough on the fabric.
So before you throw the fabric into your washer, put it in a mesh bag first. The mesh bag will protect the silk against heat and movement and will avoid getting damaged.
And like the wool fabric, wash the silk fabric on a delicate and short cycle, as well. You need to put it on low heat as it is sensitive to heat. The silk threads will still tighten, and the weave pulls itself together even with just minimal heat.
Unlike the previous fabric types, you may air-dry the silk fabric after. This is because, unlike the other types of fabric, silk tends to retain its shape. It won't likely stretch, too.
You may do this by wrapping a towel over the silk fabric to get rid of the excess water. Remember not to wring the garment, as this may damage the fabric. Take out the towel and hang it to dry somewhere. Avoid hanging it in direct sunlight, though, as this may cause the color to fade.
You may also opt to spin dry the silk fabric but do it in a heatless air setting. And again, spin it in the shortest time possible.
Cautions When Shrinking a Shirt
There are a few things that you need to take into consideration in learning how to shrink a t-shirt. First, you need to do it with caution.
Heat can be hard on fabric, so you need to be extra careful in trying to shrink your new favorite shirt. This is especially true when you're shrinking an old shirt or delicate shirt, as exposing it to high heat may damage it. So always shrink with caution.
A high heat setting can cause fading, so be aware of this when shrinking dark-colored shirts and t-shirts.
How to Shrink a Shirt Tips
Another thing is to always try on the t-shirt or shirt after each attempt. You don't want to shrink it beyond your actual size, so it's recommended that you check and actually try it on first after you do another cycle.
The last thing you need is to find out that it doesn't fit you any longer because you've shrunk it more than you should. These are the basic rules for learning how to shrink a t-shirt.
Also, in shrinking printed tees, always make sure to do it inside-out to protect the print. Doing the cycle repeatedly may damage the print, so it's best to wash it inside-out. That's basically among the first things you need to remember when planning to learn how to shrink a t-shirt.
How to Shrink a Shirt FAQs
Do shirts shrink in the washer or dryer?
Shirts made from natural fibers like cotton, denim and linen shrink in both the washer and dryer when there is a high heat.
Can I unshrink a shirt?
While not always possible, many shirts can be unshrunk by washing them again and stretching them back to shape while wet. Do this very gently.
How to Shrink a Shirt - In Conclusion
Shrinking a new-found shirt which, unfortunately, is too big for you is not only possible. It's very easy to do, too. It won't take as much time and energy to transform your oversized tee into a "new shirt." You may do it either by hand or by using a washer/dryer. Both methods on how to shrink a t-shirt are perfectly effective.
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