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Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

I finally found a beanie that I really enjoy wearing. It's cotton and comfy and everyone really likes it on me. Problem is, when I washed it for the first time, I forgot it in the dryer. So now it's shrunken and I'm sad. :(

Advice on how to stretch it back out would be appreciated.

By Brandon from Phoenix, AZ

Recent Answers

By Judy = Oklahoma [57]10/06/2010

This happens to us quite often with hats & tshirts. I usually just get them wet again & stretch them out. You can also throw it in the wash again with whatever you are washing with fabric softene(the softener helps loosen it up)r, then when it comes out of the washer, stretch it out over an upside down milk jug, bucket, or something else that's the right size & let it dry.

By katrina [5]10/05/2010

I would wash it again, or get it good and wet; then try stretching it is all I can think of. Perhaps putting it over an item larger than it is and trying to "force" it gently to stretch. Good luck! Better to dry some things on top of the dryer than to allow them to be shrunk!


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

I have an all cotton skirt that shrunk in the wash. The length now looks awful. Does anyone have advice for stretching it out in length? Thanks in advance for your time and help.

Mom23boys from Queens, NY

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

What I've done in the past (both with skirts and tops), is to wet the piece and then stretch it gently. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

A t-shirt can be placed on a hanger and then the bottom hem pulled down gently, for a skirt it's easiest to hold both the waist and hem and pull in opposite directions. Good luck. (07/02/2007)

By Anonymous

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Have you tried ironing it wet? (07/06/2007)

By tosha07

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Depends how much it shrank. If just an inch or less, wetting it, stretching it gently, but firmly to the length you want and letting it dry flat should help. If more than an inch, adding a matching or coordinating panel to the hem should work. Be sure to prewash whatever fabric you are using to add length especially if it 100% cotton like the skirt. If you manage to rescue it, wash in cold and hang to dry in future, just in case it wants to shrink again. (07/09/2007)

By thriftmeg

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Wetting it and stretching is good, also you can iron it and stretch as you go. I've done that many times. Best thing is to let it hang to dry and not put it in the dryer. (07/09/2007)

By Noella

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Get it good and wet, use cold water. Then firmly grab hold of the waistband and shake it until it is the length you desire. This works quite well with cotton knit, not as effective on regular cotton fabrics. Let it drip dry on the clothes rack or clothes line. Good luck. (07/09/2007)


RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

If you need to stretch the legs on a pair of cotton slacks or jeans, or need to stretch the sleeves on a cotton shirt, affix "clamping hangers", the kind that hang a pair of trousers upside down to keep its crease to the cuffs of the slacks or to the cuffs of shirt immediately after washing.

Next, hang the garment up on strong hook you've screwed into the arch of a door frame or into a ceiling beam in the basement so that the garment will hang freely. Next, take two 3/4-full, quart-sized cans of paint (use a full gallon for jeans) and hook their handles onto the hooks of the clamping hangers. As the garment dries, the constant weight of the paint cans will stretch out the pant legs or the sleeves. You can add 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length. (05/17/2008)

By Steven

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Run the item under cold water in the tub. Step into the tub, be sure you aren't wearing any undergarments that can't get wet, or that might run. Put the item on. This works well for cotton. Your body heat will help to stretch it back out. This works very well for skirts or dresses that zip up, although it may take a few minutes until it stretches enough. Wear the item for approximately 5 minutes (max), then take it off and let it hang dry. If it re-shrinks a little upon air drying, just repeat the process. (06/23/2008)

By guest

Archive: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Does anyone know how to stretch jeans that have shrunk?

By Lora from TN

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

Hi. You cannot stretch a woven fabric like denim. The only thing you can do is to take them out of the dryer soon after the wrinkle goes out of them. Roughly 5 minutes. Hope this helps! (01/01/2010)

By caninecodependent

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

While they are still wet pull them over the back of a chair, let them stay til dry. Good luck. (01/01/2010)

By kffrmw88

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

You could use pants stretchers. These are metal frames inserted into wet pants to make a crease, and dry them. They are available at a website called Lehman's. (01/02/2010)

By Omanana

RE: Stretching Shrunken Cotton Clothing

I'm not convinced that you cannot stretch denim. I had a pair that shrunk and while they were still wet I pulled them length wise and across the middle section. I hung them over the shower curtain rod and every so often I'd go and pull again. Unless I gained overnight; they were stretched and they still fit. Now I just put them in the dryer for a very short time and hang them to dry. I do that with all my clothes. If it's just the length you're concerned about I'd hang them on a pants hanger so the weight of the water would stretch them. (01/06/2010)

By TXBetty

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