Help with shrunken wool sweaters : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We need help with our sweaters that shrank. I read an article once about boiling and vinegar. Can't remember the details. If any one has any tips we would be grateful. Thanks!

-- Christy Brown (, November 07, 1999


As a spinner i would suggest getting the sweaters wet with cold water and stretching them to original shape, may be put cardboard cut shape inside so they dont shrink back to small.Boiling the fibers will cause more shrinkige.

-- kathy hart (, November 07, 1999.

Hi, I spin and knit as well, and in my experience, boiling will simply aggravate the situation. My recommendation is to soak the sweaters, one at a time in a heavy solution of cold water and fabric softener. The idea is to get the fibers to relax as much as possible, and then stretch back to shape, and let air dry. A sweater drying frame would work best. The fibers of wool are like a sticky burr, they work themselves together through a process of agitation and temp change, and it is very difficult to work them loose. When washing a sweater, do not scrub it, let the dirt soak its' way out. Scrubbing works the "sticky burr" effect faster. If you have any further questions, e-mail me directly, thanks.


-- sandie baker (, November 08, 1999.

Cold water and LOTS of fabric softener is the only way I've heard of to relax the fibers. Agitation shrinks, as well as sudden changes in water temp. If you can't unshrink, use for doggie sweaters! Or maybe doll clothes? (Make lemonade out of lemons...) Sorry to joke, I know it's not funny to loose expensive sweaters, done it myself! Patrice

-- Patrice Bertke (, November 08, 1999.

If all else fails and you are unable to regain the sweater's original size, you can make beautiful felt out of the wool. Just wash in hot water in your washing machine (or agitate aggressively by hand) and run through your dryer. The wool fibers will stick to one another producing a nice thick felt. Depending on the sweater's original size, you may have enough for a handmade Christmas stocking! Good Luck!

-- Beth Beatty (, November 08, 1999.

another use for hopelessly shrunken sweaters (or thrift store ones bought just for this purbose.... nice thick warm soft insoles for boots and moccasins. boil and agitate! wool thickened this way is downright waterproof. i make hats from them as well. --juno in oregon--

-- juno redleaf (, November 10, 1999.

Doggy sweaters? X-mas stockings???!!! Just because they are shrunk doesn't mean that they are worthless! I go to the thrift store looking for them,they are so useful! In my sad experience,the sweater can often not be streched back into shape,especially if it's been washed and dried more than a time or two. What we use them for is very warm children's sweaters and mittens, and maybe slippers.If you make slippers,get a few scraps of leather to sew on for soles.Usually the neckhole is too tight for a child's head to fit through,so either cut from the neckline down to the waist annd install buttons and buttonholes,or cut a smaller slit down from the neck,about 6" long,and maybe put a wooden button and loop for it there.If the sleeves are too long for the child (they usually are) Cut them off at an appropriate length.Then the resulting pieces can be fashioned into mittens.Use the ribbing for the cuff on the mitten. Now go and secure the cut edges from stretching by sewing the edge with an overcast or blanket stitch,using yarn that looks nice with the sweater.You can also applique felt animals or flowers,etc.,on it with the buttonhole stitch.I like to do simple embroidery stitches around the neckline, cuffs,and waist,for example a row of colorful yarn X's .These work up into a really nice folk art type sweater and are very attractive. If we weren't so frugal,I'd get used wool sweaters and shrink them down for this !

-- Rebekah Leaf (, November 14, 1999.

I found a recipe on page 88 of Jackson and Plowman's The Woolcraft Book. It calls for 3 oz of epsom salts dissolved in boiling water then adding enough cold water to cool it and make 2 gallons of solution. A shrunken wool garment should then be soaked in it for 2 hours then pulled gently into shape. Finally, the garment should be squeezed and laid flat to dry. I haven't needed it yet, thank goodness, but I suggested it to a friend whose daughter had washed in a washing machine a sweater my friend had knitted. She was delighted with how well it worked.

-- Marilyn Dickerson (, January 20, 2000.

I shrank slipcover cushion covers that I washed. They are terrible. I thought they were cotton but must have something else in them. I'm going to try the Epsom salts and the fabric softener. any more ideas? thanks!

-- carolyn gibb (, April 07, 2001.

wrinkle releaser spray by the febrese people.

-- nadine a (, August 03, 2001.

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