How to Restretch a Sweater

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If you've ever accidentally shrunk your favorite sweater in the dryer, you probably figured that the garment was a lost cause. Fortunately, the sweater needn't stay in its shrunken state forever if you stretch it back out to its original shape. Stretching your sweater is similar to blocking, a technique that clothing designers use to shape and resize their garments. This process works best on sweaters made from natural fibers, such as wool, cashmere or cotton.

Step 1

Fill a clean sink with cool water. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mild hair conditioner or baby shampoo.

Step 2

Submerge the sweater in the water and allow it to soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

Step 3

Remove the sweater from the water and press it against the side of the sink to extract excess water. Don't wring the sweater; this can damage it.

Step 4

Lay the sweater flat on a thick bath towel. Press down on the sweater with another towel. Dry the garment with the towel until it's damp but not soaking wet.

Step 5

Lay another sweater or long-sleeve shirt flat on a large piece of parchment paper. Trace the outline of the shirt on the paper with a pencil.

Step 6

Lay the shrunken sweater on the paper over the outline you drew.

Step 7

Pull on the sweater's arms, neck, sides and bottom to stretch it out. Stop stretching when the sweater's shape matches the pencil outline.

Step 8

Place heavy objects glass dishes on the arms and around the edges of the sweater. The objects will keep the sweater stretched as it dries.

Step 9

Allow the sweater to dry completely before wearing or storing.