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.
Fill a clean sink with cool water. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mild hair conditioner or baby shampoo.
Submerge the sweater in the water and allow it to soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Lay the shrunken sweater on the paper over the outline you drew.
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.
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.
Allow the sweater to dry completely before wearing or storing.