How to de-shrink a sweater?

I have a sweater that once fit me beautifully, but now it’s smaller (and no, I’m not bigger, but actually a little smaller) than when I got it. It’s made out of wool (merino, if that matters), and the main problem is shortness, as in the sweater itself is too short, and so are the sleeves.

Buy a bigger sweater.

De-shrinking attempts have never worked for me. Consider it lost.

Wash it, put it in the dryer, and you will have a lovely potholder. Then go buy a new sweater.

I, uh, wouldn’t get my hopes up too much with wool.

If you’re ready to see it to die in the attempt, you can wet the sweater and try stretching it gently, blocking it, and letting it dry on a flat surface. This has only a tiny likelihood of success, however.

It really can’t be fixed. The wool fibers have been physically altered, and there’s really no way to restore them to their former shape. Blocking it might stretch them out a little tiny bit, but the effect will be cosmetic and temporary. And infinitesimal.


Wah!!! ::cry::

And I’ve already looked for a replacement at Their sweaters this fall do nothing for me.

Really? I think the cabled v-necks are adorable.

Buy a dressform?

FWIW try e-Bay. I’ve bought several cashmere sweaters at a fraction of the retail price and been very happy with them.

What is that… a red dot?

The fraction, in this case, was 4/3.

I just returned one. They’re pathetic this year.

Block it: soak sweater in cold water for twenty minutes, then stretch on a board and pin sweater to the dimensions you want. Leave it there until totally dry. If it works, never put it in the dryer again, always drip dry (you should drip dry 100% wool sweaters anyway).

Note that this has a far less likely chance of working on preshrunk wool, which most of the sweaters you can buy in stores are, since otherwise you could not launder them without felting, which would render the sweater totally unwearable.

This is a temporary fix, and won’t restore the sweater’s lost looseness. The fibers will remain shortened and thickened, stiffer; you’ve just stretched the fabric out temporarily.

Just remember when you buy your next wool sweater to treat it right to avoid another shrinking. This means washing in lukewarm, not hot water, with the right soap, and the gentle cycle, or better yet, hand-wash in the wash basin, with gentle motions. The more you agitate wool (or the hotter the water is - it shouldn’t get above your body temp.), the more wool shrinks (until it felts). Never use a dryer or sunlight, but block it (pull it into shape) and let it dry on a flat surface. Don’t wring water out, just roll it into a towel to absorb water.

…I can’t find those anywhere. Could you link to one maybe?

Also, I didn’t know there was so much to do to sweaters! I may just have to let my nice dry-cleaning lady take care of them.

Well, there isn’t much to do once you know - the trick is to do the right thing, instead of throwing it into the washing machine on a 60 C, tumble cycle. Your dry-cleaning lady will charge a lot of bucks, but not necessarily take better care than you yourself in your basin with some care could.

I went and got myself a couple of replacement sweater, now that I know how to make them not shrink. This blue one and this brown and browner one.