It’s happened to all of us—you put on a sweater, and it’s just a little too snug. Or maybe it’s been sitting in the back of your closet for a while and has lost its shape. Either way, there’s an easy fix: stretching a sweater. Read on to learn how.
Can You Stretch a Sweater?
There are many ways to stretch a sweater. Some people use their hands, while others use tools such as heavy objects or pins. But can you stretch a sweater?
The answer is yes! There are many ways to stretch a sweater, and you can achieve the perfect fit with patience.
With that said, sweaters are not made equally. Some sweaters can be easier or harder to stretch. Depending on the type of material, some wool sweaters cannot be extended, especially felted ones.
As the fibers are tighter on each other regarding felted wool, you cannot use the methods here to stretch it out. Tugging might cause damage to the garment.
However, in the section below, you can refer to the proper ways to keep your sweater from shrinking.
Things to Know Before Stretching Your Sweater
Before using the methods here to stretch your sweater, here are some things you need to know.
Type of Material
Most sweaters are either made of wool or cotton. These are natural fibers that can be stretched and retain their shape easily.
However, synthetic fibers are a lot more work. They are less likely to stretch out. Even if they do, the shape can shrink again. You can look at your sweater’s tag and find the fabric you have.
Quality of the Material
Not all sweaters are equal. It might be much harder to stretch if your shirt is made with lower or artificial fibers.
Stretching low-quality fabric can be a difficult and time-consuming process. If done correctly, however, it can significantly improve the look and feel of your sweater.
First, it is essential to understand the difference between low-quality and high-quality fabric. Low-quality fabric is typically from shorter and less densely packed fibers. It results in a fabric that is more prone to pilling and tearing.
On the other hand, high-quality fabric is made from longer and more densely packed fibers. It makes the material more resistant to pilling and tearing.
There are common mistakes that people make when stretching low-quality fabric. One of the most common mistakes is stretching the fabric too much.
It can cause the fabric to lose its shape and become misshapen. To avoid these common mistakes, it is essential to stretch the material slowly and evenly.
Method 1: Use Heavy Objects
Stretching your sweater can be easier with the use of heavy objects. Although you can use your hands to do it, using heavy objects but
- Grab your sweater and soak it in cold water. Heat causes shrinkage with natural fibers. So, cold water can soften the fibers and keep the wool from shrinking.
- Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of fabric softener and let the sweater absorb it. The solution will help the fibers soften, making the stretching much easier. Using baby shampoo or conditioner is enough if you don’t have any fabric softener.
- Depending on the thickness of your sweater, let it soak for 20 minutes to an hour. It will help your garment to be more malleable. Ensure that it’s submerged in the water to soften it evenly.
- Remove the sweater from the solution and squeeze the excess water. Don’t wring your garment, as it can lead to damage. Refrain from rinsing it, as the fabric softener will help stretch the garment.
- Lay down a towel and place the sweater on top. Let it soak through the towel to minimize the wetness.
- Then, stretch the sweater to your desired size.
- Place a heavy object to keep the sweater from shrinking. Put heavy things such as books or dumbbells on the clothes’ neck, sleeves, and bottom. You can leave the sweater for one hour up to overnight.
By using heavy objects, it can keep its shape as it dries. This method is the best as you don’t have to re-stretch the sweater as it dries. It minimizes the shrinking until it’s dry.
Method 2: Use Your Hands
If you want a more straightforward method to stretch your garment, then using your hands is an excellent way. The first few steps of the process are much like the first one.
- Soak the garment in the fabric softener solution and cold water for 20 minutes to an hour.
- Then, gently squeeze it to let out the excess water. You can also press the garment against the sink to lessen the risk of damage.
- Lay down a towel and place the sweater on top. Let the water soak until the garment is dry. You can also place another towel on top and roll it tightly.
- Then, stretch out the sweater to your desired size. You can also trace a pattern on a piece of paper and hold the garment to that size.
- Held the sweater against your body to verify that they are the proper size. If not, repeat the stretching process until it fits you.
- Let the sweater hang and dry out. You might notice that the garment will shrink a bit as it dries. You can stretch it out a couple of times as it dries out.
Although it’s much easier, this method needs more attention than the other ones. You might need to watch over the garment as it dries.
Method 3: Use Pins and a Corkboard
Pinning the sweater works like using a heavy object to keep the garment in place. You can minimize the shrinkage as it dries and stretches out simultaneously.
- After letting the garment soak in the fabric softener solution, squeeze the excess water.
- Then, lay it down on a towel to make it less damp. You can also use another towel on top of the sweater.
- Roll the sweater and towel together to wring out as much water as possible. By this step, the garment should be damp but not wet.
- Then, place the damp sweater on top of the corkboard. Stretch the garment to your desired size.
- Using pins, secure the garment in place. It should go on the sweater’s neck, sleeves, and bottom.
Note that you should use thicker and longer pins, especially if you have a thicker sweater. Make sure to use rust-free pins to avoid rust stains on your garment.
Tips for Stretching Your Sweater
It’s that time of year when the weather gets chilly, and you have to start thinking about how to keep your wardrobe fresh. One way to do this is by stretching your sweater.
It’s a great way to make your sweater last longer and keep it looking new. Here are some tips on how to correctly stretch your shirt.
- Use a Softener. Fabric softener is the most popular way to soften the sweater’s fibers. However, a conditioner or baby shampoo is an excellent substitute if you don’t have it.
- Avoid Heat. Heat is the prime reason for the shrinkage of the garment. So, avoid using the dryer or direct sunlight to dry your sweater.
- Use a Clothes Hanger. Gravity is very helpful with stretching your sweater. The weight of the garment can push down and pull the garment.
- Use Rust-Proof Pins. Rust is an unwelcome part of your sweater. If you use the third method, be sure to use rust-proof pins.
How to Keep Clothes from Shrinking?
It’s happened to all: we buy a beautiful new sweater, only to have it shrink after the first wash. But there’s no need to despair! With these few simple steps, you can keep your sweater from shrinking.
Know the Fabric
First, always read the care label before washing your sweater. Different fabrics require different care, and you want to avoid accidentally damaging your sweater by washing it incorrectly.
If the care label says to hand wash, do so in cool water with a mild detergent. If it’s machine washable, use the delicate cycle, cool water, and a mild detergent.
Some sweaters can handle hit and the washing machine without shrinking. However, most natural ones do not.
Once your sweater is washed, the key to preventing shrinkage is to avoid heat. So don’t put it in the dryer! Instead, lay it flat to dry, or if you must, use the lowest setting on your dryer and take it out as soon as it’s dry.
Heat causes the natural fabrics of the sweater to shrivel up. So, using a dryer or having direct sunlight is not recommended.
There are a few easy ways to stretch out a too-tight sweater, so it’s comfortable to wear again. Whether you use pins, heavy objects, or just a little elbow grease, you can fix your favorite sweater to its original shape in no time. With these methods of 1how to stretch a sweater, you will know where to start.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.