Project Rescue 101: Fix a Shrunken Sweater

We’ve all been there at some point. You pull your most loved and cherished sweater out of the dryer to find it has shrunk 15 sizes. Fix a shrunken sweater? More like plan a sweater funeral. You cry big alligator tears and wonder if maybe the cat can wear it now.

Most of you are probably wondering how it got into the dryer in the first place. No way would you ever think of machine washing or drying it. It’s HAND WASH ONLY! You know this, I know this, but do our sweet, loving, helpful spouses know this? Not mine. Bless my husband’s heart; he was just helping out with the laundry, but imagine my horror when I find my favorite sweater is now fit for a toddler.

I did a pretty good impression of Macaulay Culkin with my hands on my face screaming “NOOOOOO” as the shrieking horror music played in my head. Now I’ll never be able to see if the sweater fits the cat; she’s gone into panicked hiding forever.

“Uh-oh. How long did it take you to make this?” my husband asked. I didn’t make this one. I can’t even crochet a potholder yet. My hubby tried to calm me down, saying he will buy me a new one. NOOOOOO!

It’s a Doris Chan Designer Original. Hubby can go hide with the cat in the doghouse.

After my husband “helped” with the housework, I feared I would never wear the Sera Lace Top again.

After frantically Googling and looking through Pinterest and the rest of the World Wide Web for solutions, I finally found an idea for shrunken wool sweaters. At the time, I had no idea what kind of yarn this sweater was made of. It didn’t matter. It was worth a try, and it wasn’t going to get any worse.

Fix a Shrunken Sweater: Supplies for Success


  • Hair conditioner
  • Towel
  • Sink
  • A room free of spouses

fix shrunken sweater


1. Fill clean sink with lukewarm water

2. Add a dollop of hair conditioner (any kind) and disperse in water

3. Soak the sweater in the water

4. Put a much bigger dollop of conditioner in your hands and begin kneading it into the sweater gently. I used about a 1/4 cup total, give or take a dime-size dollop.

5. Let the sweater soak for 15 minutes

6. Remove the sweater and rinse the conditioner out with cool water

7. Gently squeeze out excess water

8. Lay your sweater out lengthwise and roll it up into a towel, squeezing gently again to remove more water

9. Unroll the sweater from the towel and lay it out on a flat surface

10. Gently stretch it back to its original size and shape, paying particular attention to edges that need even stretching. You could even re-block the sweater to get it that perfect shape.

11. Let it AIR dry overnight

12. Pat yourself on the back, and let your spouse back into the house.

This method is a genius, sweater-and-hubby-saving DIY life hack. I did find out that the yarn this sweater is made with is 84% wool, so it worked beautifully for me, and my favorite designer original sweater is back to perfect. Now, if I could just find the cat. . .

Do you have any tips for unshrinking sweaters? Will you try it with your synthetic fiber items? Let us know in the comments! Below, I’ve included a couple of links for proper sweater care so hopefully you can avoid having to rescue your sweaters.

Saving the day,

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