Expanding a sweater

So I was reading the thread on shrinking a sweater, and I got to thinking about some of my old sweaters that don’t fit anymore–partially because I’ve expanded and partially because they may have shrunk a bit. They fit me reasonably well around the torso, but they’d feel better if there was an extra inch or so around the chest. The sleeves are a couple of inches too short–ever try to find a sweater with 38" sleeves?

Is there a way to stretch a sweater out a bit without damaging it too much?

If not, is there a way to stretch them if I don’t care about the looks and just want to wear them for warmth when working outside or sitting around the house?

It depends on what they’re made of. The way wool sweaters shrink is that they “felt” – the fibers tighten up and mat together. There is no way to undo felting.

Other fibers you can sometimes wash and hang to dry and the weight of the water will stretch them. Or you can pull them into shape and air dry them flat.

If the sweaters are 100% polyester, there’s not much you can do.

I don’t think that felting is a major issue here. I’m not trying to “un-shrink” sweaters: just make some sweaters that fit me moderately well 30 pounds ago fit me comfortably today.

Wash them in cold water and hang them to dry or stretch them flat. It’ll either work or it won’t, and if it doesn’t, you won’t be any worse off than you were before.

Sounds easy enough. I’ll give it a shot.