Trad Experiment: Shrinking Wool Sweaters

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Being a size small is hard and when thrifting it can be downright heart breaking. To combat my constant disappointment I decided to purchase a wool sweater at a thrift store that was far too big for me and try to shrink it. My first instinct was to get the sweater wet and then put it in the drier monitoring it every few minutes. However, I got the sweater far too wet for this method to be effective (maybe I will try a spray bottle next time). So, taking into account that I only spent $1.75 and had other laundry to do, it went into the washing machine on hot with rest of my laundry. I refrained from putting it in the drier as it looked smaller…and it is! The sweater shrank and it fits! It did lose some color and suffered a little felting, but all in all I am counting this as a victory,

I was so happy with first sweater that I tried again. I purchased this sweater second hand for $35 making the stakes a lot higher. However, I couldn’t resist trying as the heathered pink color was too beautiful to pass on. And guess what? This sweater turned out even better! There was less felting and the color stayed a lot more true to the original. This experiment has opened my eyes to what my “size” actually is. I have a feeling that I will be performing this test again and again with different variations. If you attempt this be very careful, brave, and tell me about it.

Fair Isle Sweater

Before: Pit-to-Pit – 22″ / Top of Collar to bottom – 25″ / Sleeve 22.5″

After: Pit-to-Pit – 20.5 /Top of Collar to Bottom – 24″/Sleeve 22″

Fair Isle Fabric Before Wash Before wash

Fair Isle Fabric After WashAfter wash

Fair Isle Sweater onThis is an after pic. I wish that I would have taken a before pic to illustrate the difference.

LE Heathered Pink Shetland

Before: Pit-to-Pit – 24″ / Top of Collar to the Bott0m 28.5″ /Sleeve 18″

After: Pit-to-Pit – 22 / Top of Collar to the Bott0m 25 /Sleeve 17.25″

Pink Shetland Color before ShrinkingBefore wash

Pink Shetland Color after shrinkingAfter wash

Pink Shetland before ShrinkingBefore wash

Pink Shetland After Shrinking

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is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

14 Comments on "Trad Experiment: Shrinking Wool Sweaters"

  1. You’re a brave man. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to try this, but truthfully, I LOVE the “after” looks. They look just GREAT!!!

  2. fxh says:

    oh oh – you’ve got me worried about you now.

    And you seemed so .. .. reliable… …sensible….. someone I could trust to do the laundry…

  3. Dan says:

    I’ve heard that you can get sweaters “professionally” shrunk at some dry cleaners. And by heard, I mean I read it on an eBay auction.

  4. Nicole says:

    For the love of all that is good in this world, promise me you won’t try this with the sweater I made you!

  5. oxford cloth button down says:

    @Nicole – I promise! This just expanded my thrifting options.

  6. Mainecooncat says:

    Years ago the Saks in Pittsburgh sold Alan Paine Shetlands. I couldn’t afford the store or the sweaters but once found one so marked down, II tried to convince myself it fit. After realizing my willful mistake -too late to return it-I put it through the washer AND even a bit in the dryer. It came out right-sized and softer, and I still have it 25 years later. I’ve done it a couple times since, though these days it’s usually me & not the garment that runs a bit too big. Always enjoy your blog.

  7. nutrivore says:

    That felted look is very charming – it looks like a loved, well-worn sweater. I am a women’s petite small and your experiment gives me a lot of hope.

  8. Woofboxer says:

    I’m always glad when I stop by here; interesting post as ever. When I’ve tried this shrinking routine I’ve found that the sweater goes slightly out of shape and gradually resumes it’s original bagginess after a few wearings. You seem to have achieved a good result with that pink shetland though.
    Regards Andy

  9. Flo says:

    Pretty cool results! I’ve never tried it, but I remember a neighbor one time accidentally throwing her wool sweater in with the wrong load and when it came out, it would have fit her grandson. I’m glad to see your experiment turned out better than that. I have instructions from Pinterest on felting sweaters to make a nice wool blanket, if you have any failures, you might want to keep them with that in mind!

  10. le coent says:

    Je suis tres attiré par les pulls shetland , mais comme je demeure en france je n’en trouve pas .
    En tous ca il vous vas a ravir et si vous auriez un ou deux pulls shetland occasion a vendre , je suis acheteurs !!!

  11. John says:

    I have that same problem, even with cotton sweaters I bought new in small sizes. One in particular stretches too far down at the waistline after a few wearings. So I just wash it in hot water and dry it on the dryer’s highest setting.

  12. Flossie says:

    Hi – amused and interested by your post…. I have a sweater I am knitting – I have (mistakenly) blocked the cuffs too much and am considering trying to shrink them … might try and soak them – just the cuffs in very hot water and see… If I could attach a photo I would. I live in south west England – by the way!

    best wishes, Flossie

  13. Flossie says:

    Oh – well it went – how can i submit a photo?

  14. oxford cloth button down says:

    Flossie – I would love to see the results. Shoot me an email with the pics! oxfordclothbuttondown@gmail.com

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