Shrunk Your Favorite Sweater? Here’s Exactly How To Fix It

by BUST Magazine

Did you shrink your favorite wool sweater? Dry your eyes; there may be hope for that sad little guy. With some baby shampoo, a hand steamer, a little cardboard, a few binder clips, and some elbow grease, you can loosen up the fibers enough to stretch the sweater back into shape. Not all sweaters can be saved—if it has become completely felted, then there may be no hope. However, if it just shriveled up so the arms are half of what they used to be and it’s now a belly sweater, you can give this technique a go.


Soak the sweater in lukewarm water plus a capful of baby shampoo. Stretch the fabric apart to let the water really get in there. 
Don’t rinse.


While it is soaking, lay a sweater that fits you onto white cardboard, trace around it a bit larger than the sweater, then cut along the edge of this pattern.


Drain the sink and press the still-soapy sweater against the edge of the sink a bit to remove excess water. Then, wrap the sweater in a towel to soak up any more excess. DO NOT wring the sweater out.


Heat up a hand steamer and lay the shrunken sweater on the pattern. Slowly stretch the fabric out to the edges of the pattern using the steamer on the tightened fibers as you carefully pull the material. Use binder clips to secure the sweater to the pattern. It is a good idea to place a bit of paper towel or paper between the clips and the fabric to keep the clamps from damaging the fabric.


Allow the sweater to dry completely. If the clamps dent the fabric, you can work the dents out with the steamer. You may have to do the steaming, stretching, and clamping process several times to get the fibers to stretch out enough to hold the correct size.


Rinse out the baby shampoo with lukewarm water and let it dry, clamped to the pattern one last time.

 There you go. Your favorite sweater has survived shrinkage. Now make sure not to plop it in the dryer next time.

By Callie Watts
Photographed by Kate Lacey
Sweater Courtesy of

This article originally appeared in the print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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