Stretching Shrunken Wool Garments

Silver Post Medal for All Time! 297 Posts
October 12, 2010

Knitted SweatersTo reshape a shrunken wool sweater, try soaking the garment in two tablespoons of hair cream rinse mixed with a gallon of cool water, then roll in a towel to remove excess water and clothespin to a pants stretcher or board. Stretch a bit by pulling seams gently, but firmly at the shoulders, sides, and neck.


By Monica from Cortez, CO

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4 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

March 13, 2005

I failed to read the washing instructions on a tweed skirt and put it in a coloured wash at 100 degrees. The instructions advised dry clean.

The material is a mixture of 60% wool, 32% acrylic and 8% polyamide, with 100% acetate lining. Despite the man-made content, it has shrunk and the skirt level is now about 2" above the hem of the lining.

I really love this skirt and can't get another. I've never heard of shrink material regaining its original length, but does anyone have any suggestions about how to get it back to nearer its original length?


By Holly (Guest Post)
March 13, 20050 found this helpful

The only suggestion I have is to thoroughly wet it and pin it down in the stretched out position until dry.
This is called 'blocking' and is something that is done after embroidery.


You are probably not going to get 2 inches worth of lengthening out of the above method.
How about adding a ruffle to the hem for additional length?

March 13, 20050 found this helpful

Unfortunately, the shrinkage that occurs in wool is not reversible. The structure of wool fiber is largely responsible for this. The outside of wool fibers are covered with overlapping scales that run in one direction, much like the shingles on a roof. Wool shrinkage occurs when these scales become interlocked from exposure to moisture and agitation, such as during the washing process. Once interlocked, the scales cannot be released due to their physical structure. Attempts to forcefully stretch shrunken wools can weaken and damage the fabric.


A possible exception to the above information is in the case of a wool sweater. Due to the flexible knit structure of sweaters, you may be able to gain a little size back by blocking the sweater (if the shrinkage is not too severe). To block the sweater, gently hand wash in cool water and squeeze out the water. Roll in one or two towels to remove additional moisture. Then lay the sweater out to dry. When you lay out the sweater, try to restore the original shape and size by stretching and smoothing.

By (Guest Post)
March 14, 20050 found this helpful

I agree, I was going to say wet it with a vinegar and water solution and gently pull it to stretch it and clip it or weigh it down with weights until dry.

Good luck!

By Marian (Guest Post)
March 14, 20050 found this helpful

There is a site called the Cheapskate monthly. They put out a newsletter I believe. Anyway, I read in their archives a way to UNshrink a wool sweater.


This might work for your skirt..worth a try...good luck!

March 14, 20050 found this helpful

Sorry can't help you with shrunken tweed or wool type fabrics. But with any ironable fabric, you can iron out alot of shrinkage. Since electric dryers became so common people hardly ever iron anymore. But if you have something in your closet that seems to shrink a couple of sizes just from hanging there, it just might NOT be your expanding waistline, maybe it just needs to be ironed. Also, when pulling jeans out of the washer & dryer, if you will step on the hem while holding the waistband and pull hard, it will stretch out the garment to fit better.


Be sure to iron the SEAMS good and flat, you'll gain at least 1 or 2 sizes better fit.

By piter (Guest Post)
May 23, 20070 found this helpful

yes. here's what i did for my cardigan. cashmere or wool, don't really know what it is. soak that baby in warm water, add some shampoo. wait a while. 10 minutes or so, 20, 30. whatever. remove from water. wring dry as best as you can until it's damp. then while the wool/cashmere is wet and vulnerable, wear it for about 20 minutes. all the while, gently pulling at it therby molding it back to its shape. done.

By someone (Guest Post)
November 14, 20070 found this helpful

If you undo the hem, it should give you about a half an inch to an inch. That works for jeans.

By Vivien (Guest Post)
April 17, 20080 found this helpful

I almost died when I accidentally shrunk my brand new wool sweater. I read somewhere that you can fiz the damage with Woolite. Soak the item in Woolite and don't rinse!


Then gently stretch out while you lay it out to dry. Every few hours, gently stretch it out. It really works. Good luck.

By Brent (Guest Post)
July 18, 20080 found this helpful

Take it to your dry cleaner they can fix the damage.

By becca (Guest Post)
October 18, 20080 found this helpful

Just in case anyone stumbles upon this (like I did), I just filled my bathtub up about halfway with lukewarm water and enough shampoo to make it a bubble bath. Threw one of my two prized sweaters in there for about fifteen minutes tugging on it every now and then, and put it on the stretch it out... perfect size now!

By angelane (Guest Post)
November 2, 20080 found this helpful

I tried to repair a wool dress which I put to wash by accident in my washer with hot water. Using some of the remedy which I found at this website. However to my disappointment, the dress did not come back to the regular size. Just a note for everyone, please read your labels before you put to you clothes in the wash.

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January 18, 2011

How can you fix a wool sweater that shrunk? Or can you?

By Melissa Velasco


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 216 Posts
January 18, 20110 found this helpful

I don't think you can stretch it back out, unless it shrank just a tiny bit. Hot water "felts" wool. About all you can do is give it to someone smaller. you could felt it down more by putting it in a hot wash load with a few other things. Then you have a thick fabric, and can cut out pot holders, or something like that. Sorry!


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 163 Posts
January 19, 20110 found this helpful

I overheard some ladies talking at the doctors office and they were reading a magazine and it was talking about shrunken sweaters. The article said to take the sweater and soak it in fabric softener for an hour and then rinse and lay out flat.
Not having done this personally I have no idea if it would work or not.
Good Luck,

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 13, 2010

To restore a shrunken wool sweater, dissolve one ounce of Borax in just enough hot water to dissolve it and add to one gallon of tepid water.

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