How To Stretch Jersey Knit Cotton

Most of us have had that sinking feeling… The t-shirt you bought at your favorite concert, or those super comfy pj pants you love, accidentally got washed in hot water. Now you’re running around in crop tops and highwaters. Bummer. Or are crop tops back on trend again? Either way.

how to stretch and unshrink cotton jersey fabric

If you’ve got something made of jersey fabric that has shrunk and needs to be re-sized, give the below method a try to get your item back to it’s original shape… Or at least close!

I had to do this with my diy Shibori curtains, which shrunk about a foot and a half during the dyeing process.

You’ll Need:
*Hair conditioner – nothing fancy, anything will do
*Sink, tub or vessel to soak your item to be stretched
*Water
*A helper if your fabric is large like mine

Step 1: Put hair conditioner in your vessel. Use enough to make the water feel slick – an oz or two if you’re stretching a shirt in the sink. I used about 6 – 8 oz for my curtains in this plastic bucket. Make sure the conditioner dissolves completely.

how to stretch and unshrink cotton jersey fabric

Step 2: Fill your vessel with tepid (NOT hot or cold) water. I used water straight from the hose and let it sit for a while so it could warm up. Being that it’s August in Texas, it didn’t take terribly long.

how to stretch and unshrink cotton jersey fabric

Step 3: Soak garment. Fifteen minutes or so should work for your average garment.

how to stretch and unshrink cotton jersey fabric

Step 4: Wring out excess moisture. Many people around the internets say to wring it while wrapped in a towel. That wasn’t possible for me since my panels were so big, and I found that it wasn’t necessary to accomplish my end game. I just squeezed out as much water as I could while still keeping the fabric damp.

Step 5: Here’s where you may need another human to help, depending on the size of the item you’re trying to fix.  You want to pull gently but with enough force to make a difference on opposite sides of the fabric to stretch it.  For these panels, my handsome helper and I folded them lengthwise until they were only about 8 inches wide and then we each gripped our hands all the way around the panel in the center, and slowly pulled outward until we each reached our end.  I wish I had photos of this part of the process but sadly, I don’t.

Step 6: Line dry.  Gravity itself should keep your garment or fabric in it’s stretched out state.  I’ve seen posts on the internet about weighing down your edges, but it just wasn’t necessary for my curtain panels.

how to stretch and unshrink cotton jersey fabric

That’s it!  This method works so well on cotton jersey fabric.  As I said, my curtains shrunk about a foot and a half during the dye process, and by following the above steps, I got them back to their original size!  To date, they’re one of my favorite DIYs!

diy shibori tie dye curtains

Do you have a tried-and-true method to stretch out shrunken fabric?  Share it in the comments!

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