Tuesday, December 8, 2015

DIY: How to unshrink wool clothes

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
Crap! What do you do when your wool sweater get shrunk in the washing machine?

I was on my way home from a dinner when I received a sms from my sister:

"Don't get mad. Dad washed your gray wool jacket and it has shrunk." Followed by multiple scary face icons. Another sms ticked in: "Or you have right to be mad. Me and mom flipped!"
DIY: How to unshrink wool clothing. Before and after.
DIY: How to unshrink wool clothing. Before and after. Photo courtesy of miinto.dk.

When I got home, I asked my sister how bad it was. Her reply was "It would fit a 10-year old".

My dad hid in the bathroom pretending to be taking a shower. LOL. I didn't have the heart to get mad. These things happen. And it's only a jacket. OK, it was my favorite jacket.

Nonetheless, instead of getting pissed at my dad, I started to look for solutions.

The Cary jacket is from the Danish brand Second Female, bought two years ago. So, I knew the model would no longer be available in Norwegian stores. Still, with the help of my sister we searched for the jacket online for almost one hour. But as I expected, this jacket model was no longer in store.

Getting rid of the jacket and donating it to a thrift store would be the easy solution. 

But instead, I decided to try to unshrink it, searched the web and found this at Huffington Post.

According to the article, you need to:
  1. "Fill up a bucket/bowl of lukewarm water," and make sure that the water is not too hot.

  2. "Add in 1 tbls of soft hair conditioner". The hair conditioner will supposedly relax the fibers, making it easier to stretch out.

    What I did: In the first round, I added one tablespoon. The second and third round I added almost a bottle of organic hair conditioner.

  3. "Soak the piece of clothing for 30 minutes and gently stretch the piece of clothing back to its original shape."

    What I did: I followed this step to a tee in the first round. It seemed promising right after I had stretched out the wool jacket.

    But the next morning it had shrunk again. Well, onto the next round. I don't give up easily!

    This time I decided to use more hair conditioner, and use more time to soak and to stretch the fibers. I soaked the sweater overnight! (yep, I took a chance) And I think I used two hours in the bathroom, just standing there stretching out the fibers. 

  4. "Hand wash to rinse out the conditioner and lay flat to dry."

    What I did: I used cold water to rinse out the conditioner.

    I never twisted or wrung the jacket to remove the excess water, in fear of shortening the fibers. I gently folded the wool jacket and lightly squeezed the water while holding it to the floor.

    Instead of laying it flat to dry, I hung it up for 24 hours during the second and third round. It seems logic that the weight of the water will stretch it out naturally. 

After 3 rounds, 72 hours, a good portion of patience and stamina, and one bottle of hair conditioner, I finally managed to stretch out the fibers.

The jacket regained most of its size. But it will never be the same again! :-(

Read: 20 useful clothing care tips.

The article continues below the photo.
Stretching out wool fibers after the wool cardigan shrunk in the washing machine.
Stretching out wool fibers after the wool jacket shrunk in the washing machine.

To me it was important that the jacket had the same width and length as before. The width-part was solved, but the jacket is maybe 5-10 cm shorter than what it used to be. The same goes for the sleeves. And the jacket has lost its shape at the bottom. 
How to unshrink wool clothes: after picture
How to unshrink wool clothes: after picture

Whether the tips above will work or not, I think, depends on the wool in the clothing and how loosely knitted the wool was. Follow your gut in the process. 

This jacket was originally loosely knitted, so I didn't care if I used more muscle power to stretch out the fibers. The jacket is made from 90% wool, including 25% alpaca wool. Alpaca wool is known to be a durable natural fiber.

And frankly, I had nothing to lose! At least now I can use the jacket :-)

Have you tried to unshrink wool clothing? How did it go?

Continue to read:
5 practical eco-friendly laundry tips.

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