How to Shrink a Jumper

PHOTO CREDIT: Fashionbeans, The Idle Man

How many times have you found that you want to wear your favourite jumper, or maybe just a really classy top but you can’t because it’s been stretched out? Not sure how to shrink a jumper? Follow our quick guide to shrink your jumper back to its original state. 

Read more Men’s Style Guide features.


How to Shrink a Sweater

So you’ve had your sweater for a while, you dig it out of your wardrobe, but alas! It’s misshapen and stretched. One of the best ways to get your jumper back into shape is to shrink it. The material will shorten, making it change back to its original shape and size. However, for different materials there are different methods, following these simple steps are important because the last thing you want it a jumper in a children’s size.

Does Wool Shrink?

Wool is one of the most common fabrics in jumpers and sweaters, you will find that most are a wool blend and contain other fabrics too. Wool is very receptive to being washed and will shrink if you put it in the wash with heat. Make sure you check your care label, because you may want to shrink your wool but too much heat or it’ll never fit you again.

mens street style wool the idle man


How to Shrink a Wool Sweater

How to shrink a wool sweater? A common method for shrinking wool tops is to wash them in hot water, the way that you choose to do so can vary but it should always still be effective. Here we’ll detail a hot temperature wash for your clothes, this method involves the use of a washing machine.

This is a very simple method which will fix your jumper and how to shrink a to sweater one size:

  • Set your washing machine to the highest temperature, heat adds pressure to fabrics and makes the fibres in them tighten up together which in turn makes clothes shrink.
  • For this to have to best result, you must make sure that you wash your jumper on a short cycle because wool can be very delicate. Heat makes fabrics shrink as mentioned before but this is especially true of wool.
  • You’ll have to dry your top next, however air drying it is not a suitable option. Air drying your top means that you’ll be exposing it to a lower temperature and it won’t be in the right conditions to shrink properly if at all.
  • Rather than air drying your jumper, the best option is to put it in the dryer and set it to a low heat. Hot air has the same effect on clothes as hot water so doing this will see your clothes shrink effectively.
  • Due to the responsiveness of wool, it’s very easy to come across a situation where you find that your top has shrunk more than you intended it to. To counter this you should frequently check the state of your clothing to make sure that it’s shrunk to level that you want.

Hot Wash for Cotton or Polyester

Just like with wool tops, the most common method for this involves using a washing machine however with these materials, there are some slight variations because they’re not as responsive. You need to set your washing machine to the highest temperature available to make sure that the materials will mesh and compact together during the cycle.


In the case of cotton and polyester, heat will manage to do the best job of shrinking them when combined with moisture and movement. This means that the clothing is effectively reshaped during the course of the wash and only the shorter fabric will be able to keep it’s place whilst the longer fabric is displaced, thus causing the clothes to shrink.

Air drying is also not an option when it comes to these materials because you don’t want to stop the shrinking process too early. Just as you would with wool, throw your cotton and polyester jumpers into the dryer and make sure to set the dryer to the highest heat just as you would with a washing machine. Having clothes of this material exposed to heat will help the clothes dry and shrink faster, as well as making sure that the process is at it’s most effective.


The polyester may not be as responsive to the heat as cotton and is definitely not as responsive as wool so it’s a good idea to repeat wash and dry cycle with it a few times until you feel that it’s shrunk to a size that you’re happy with. Polyester is synthetic, and thanks to that, it has the ability to go through multiple washes without sustaining damage unlike tops from its wool and cotton counterparts.

How to Shrink a Stretched Jumper by Hand

If you feel like you can’t trust a washing machine to shrink your clothes then that’s understandable because there can be some side effects, most notably fraying. In this case, it’s better to shrink clothes using your hand as you can be more accurate. Read on to find out how to shrink a stretched jumper the alternative (and more delicate) way.

When it comes to reshaping sweaters by hand you’ll most likely know which parts of the sweater that you want to shrink. Soak your sweater in some warm water and remove it once it’s wet, then press on it to release all of the excess water. During this you shouldn’t wring out the top otherwise, you’ll risk ruining it.

After the jumper has dried out enough, you can begin shaping the parts that have stretched out. Depending on how much the jumper has stretched out will determine how long this process will take but overall it shouldn’t be something that takes too long. Once you have the shape and size, you just need to leave it to dry.

david gandy wool jumper street style


A serious mistake that is made when shrinking tops by hand is hanging them out to dry, this is something that you have to avoid at all costs. This makes the jumper uncomfortable to wear and look at because the surface becomes uneven, being filled with many bumps. You should find a towel to pin the jumper to, set it down and let it dry in a place where it’s unlikely to be touched.

Shrinking Parts of the Sweater by Hand

This is similar to the method mentioned above, first you need to prepare a bowl, tub or any basin of water and make sure that the water has been boiled. You only need to focus on the areas that you want to reshape and put those specific parts of the jumper into the water, as a precaution wear protective gloves to make sure that you don’t get scorched by the water.


From this point, just grab the part of the sweater that you want to shape gently and slowly work it down to the size that you want. If the part of the top that you want to reshape is small then you may want to pull it closer to you so that it is easier to see and if the part that you’re reshaping is large then it’s best to put it down on a flat surface before starting.

The last step is to use a hair dryer to dry out the sweater and watch it form into the intended shape, depending on how long it takes for the top to dry should determine the heat level used to dry it out.

Reasons for Jumpers Stretching Out

There are so many reasons for sweaters being stretched out when we have them and some of those have nothing to do with us. Sometimes tops naturally loosen over time which can be a signal that it’s time to buy a new one and other times, it might be that you’ve received a top that is oversized, you jumper is something that no longer fits after losing weight or it even might be a jumper that was so appealing that you brought the wrong size.

Know Your Care Labels

PHOTO CREDIT: FashionBeans

Your Quick Guide on How to Shrink a Jumper

  • Does wool shrink? Always remember it does, no matter the quality.
  • Decide how much it is you want to shrink your sweater or jumper. Is your end goal realistic?
  • Find out which material your jumper is, this is fundamental to knowing what method to apply
  • Read the tips above thoroughly before you even begin the process.
  • Remember to always check your care label, some materials are poly-mixes and may need to be taken to a dry cleaner
  • If all else fails, then it might be time to replace your jumper!


On That Note

Anytime that you buy a jumper, it’s a given that it’s not going to be in great condition forever. However, we’d like to think that we’d never be in a situation where your jumper is no longer wearable. Sometimes it happens but it doesn’t always have to get the better of us. By following this simple guide, you can restore your jumper back to the glorious moment that you bought it, we’ll even show you how to shrink a sweater one size.

These are some of the most effective ways to shrink clothes, there’s always a method depending on what equipment and material you use. If you have any pesky jumpers that are stretched out of shape that should no longer be an issue.


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