This Is How to Shrink a Shirt to A Perfect Fit (2 Methods)

Girl wearing a shirt. Learn how to shrink a shirt to a perfect fit.
Photo: lookbook/@carolynm

Shirts can make any outfit look effortlessly chic; however, finding one that fits you isn’t so effortless. From oversized to thrift, tucked in or unbuttoned – there are plenty ways to wear and style them.

Sometimes we want a nice fitted shirt to compliment our outfits and bodies, but how do you get a perfect fit? How to shrink a shirt so it looks just the way it supposed to? Here are two ways to shrink a shirt to the perfect fit!

Shrinking a Shirt Using the Washer/Dryer

We all know that washers are great for, well, washing our clothes – but did you know you could use this humble apparatus to get your shirt to fit perfectly?

Maybe you’ve accidentally read a garment’s washing instructions wrong before and accidentally shrunk it, I’ve been there, and it’s the worst feeling. Well, this is what you want to emulate with your shirt!

Girl wearing a shirt
Photo: lookbook/@Anastasia Kotliar

Simply make sure that the washer or dryer’s temperature is turned all the way up to the hottest session, and then proceed to wash your shirt with it. It’s best to wash the shirt alone (although this isn’t very eco), as with other garments, it may shrink those too – it all depends on fabric types. Also, make sure there aren’t any other colors in the wash – no one wants to change the shirt’s color accidentally!

Always try to wash the shirt inside out, as this protects the stitching (especially crucial on delicate or vintage pieces). After washing, run the shirt through the dryer – also on the hottest setting.

When using this method, always be cautious as washing or drying on the warmest settings can be tough on some fabrics! Be careful with thinner, or delicate, fabrics as there is a potential for them to come out looking worse for wear. Note that the best fabric to shrink in the washer and dryer method is 100% cotton (or any other natural fabric).

The Boiling Method

This is probably an easier method for shrinking a shirt. All you need to do is heat a pot of water to the boiling point. When this is ready, shut off the stove. Place the shirt you want to shrink into the water and let it sit for about five minutes.

The longer you leave the shirt in the pot, the more it will shrink. If you want dramatic shrinkage, leave it in for up to 20 minutes – but obviously, this is up to you and the type of fabric you’re using. It’s always best to try it for five minutes and then go back for more in small stages rather than doing the full 20 minutes and potentially going too small.

Remember, most shirts will only shrink to about 20% in size.

When the time is up, remove the shirt carefully. Let it cool down. Once it is cool enough to touch, carefully wring the excess water out and see what size it is. If you are happy, let it dry. If not, the process can be repeated. This method can be very quick!

If you want to shrink the shirt by two or three sizes, we recommend leaving the shirt in the pot for 15-20 minutes and then finish the process off with a hot spin in the tumble dryer. This extra step will cause the shirt to shrink further, perfect for those stubborn fabrics.

Always Check The Fabric Content!

Girl wearing a shirt
Photo: lookbook/@Anna Borisovna

Fabrics are just like us – all different and unique in their own ways. That means that different fabrics and shirts will react differently when you try to shrink them. Some will be able to shrink faster than others, for example, natural fibers. Natural fibers include cotton, linen, and satin. Shirts made from synthetic fibers (i.e., nylon and polyester) are often tightly woven already, so they will shrink less. This means you need to put a little bit more effort into shrinking them. When it comes to vintage (or printed) shirts, always turn them inside out before shrinking.

Enjoy Your New Shirt!

After following these methods, you should be left with a new and more fitted shirt. Those vintage shirts, which never fitted, can now be worn. Using these methods save you from cropping your shirt or constantly tucking it in and hiding all the great detail. You will no longer have to put up with drowning in a big, baggy shirt!

Try pairing the new shirt with jeans for a cute and casual look, or maybe wear with some fitted pants for a stylish office outfit. Either way, wear it with pride – for once we can celebrate a shirt that has shrunk in the wash!

About The Author