Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Unshrink Your Clothes

Not too long ago, when a piece of clothing was stained, torn, too big or had shrunk in the dryer, I thought nothing of throwing it in the "to donate" pile. Now, I try to reinvent my clothes or fix them so they work for me - I reinforce seams with my sewing machine, remake a "too small" dress into a skirt or shirt (I have one I'm still working on... maybe I'll share soon), take in sleeve length or alter an oddly fitting pair of jeans into shorts. 

With this particular article of clothing though, I didn't want to remake anything. I washed the dress for the first time, didn't read the care label (it was rayon but felt like cotton!), and had Carson throw it in the dryer on low without giving it a second thought. I was folding laundry on the couch when I noticed that the dress had shrunk at least a size. Hang dry? Whaaat??? So I consulted this article and though it mentioned wool, I thought that it would probably work for rayon. The dress still sort of fit, but it was definitely a little too tight in the arms and bust, so I hoped to give it a little of the looser fit it had when I purchased it. 

My tools were: 
A pitcher of water (I used lukewarm but I don't know that it matters)
Conditioner (love this one, by the way)
My dress

And by the way, this was sort of how my dress fit before. The day that I wore it was over 90 degrees and I was sweating which led to crazy wrinkled dress.

Anyway, I soaked the dress in conditioner filled water for about 15 minutes. I guess it loosens the fibers... I'm not sure if that's true, but it didn't seem to hurt anything. It looks disgusting though.

Once the dress had finished soaking, I put it on a towel to dry. I didn't wring it, but I did sort of pat it dry with the towel. I smoothed the dress out on the towel, pulling it lightly to stretch it. You can sort of see what I was doing on the skirt of the dress.

I was surprised by how much stretch was in my dress. This is the front hem, stretched, verses the unstretched hem. Quite a difference. I'd bet that this would work with other articles of clothing that needed to be longer or more loose.

 I didn't rinse the dress before laying it out to dry, so the spots you see are from the conditioner - gross. It definitely smelled like conditioner once I was done, and that has to be washed out soon - I think I'll try my hand at hand washing to avoid this process once again.

While I wrote this, I threw the dress on so you could see that it fits again. I got about two inches in the hem, another two in the length of the bodice, and I'm imagining about that much in the width too. It worked! Good thing, because I plan to wear this dress many more times this summer!

To hopefully curb this problem in the future, I also made a "do not dry" list and hung it up by the dryer...


  1. thanks for the pictures and instructions!

  2. Would this technique work on raylon skirts? I'm dying to know!

  3. Would this technique work on rayon skirts? I'm dying to know!

    1. I'm sure it would! The dress is rayon so I'm sure a skirt wouldn't be too different!

  4. Would this technique work on raylon skirts? I'm dying to know!

  5. That's a great question - the fabric of the dress really matters in determining how to best unshrink clothes. In this case, Lindsay's dress was made out of rayon. At Unshrinkit, we perfected a solution that unshrinks wool fabrics and blends.

  6. I wonder if it would work on wool...

  7. I have so many rayon tops so I really appreciate your post about un-shrinking your rayon dress, as I’ve definitely shrunken one or two myself (due to hastily putting in dryer without thinking). Thanks!

  8. Thank you!!! It worked like a charm. I was devastated after i accidentally hot washed a brand new dress which left it indecently short and tight. It's absolutely perfect again.

  9. A quart? gallon? pitcher of water? How much hair conditioner? Thanks.

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  11. This was really an interesting topic and I kind agree with what you have mentioned here!
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  12. Hey very interesting blog!


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