Can I shrink 100% thick cotton t-shirts? Hue Jeggings? And dye them?
January 8, 2015 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Can I shrink a thick 100% cotton t-shirt? What about Hue Jeggings (Cotton 75%-Polyester 21%-Spandex 4%)? Can I dye Hue Jeggings a dark purple? Will all of this end in tears of joy? Tears or sorrow?

For this question, assume buying replacements is not an option.

I want to shrink Hue Jeggings from Medium to Small. They did not stretch out of shape. I lost weight. That is why I want the waist and thighs to fit tighter.

While I am at it, can I dye this medium wash color a shade of deep purple? How would I do that or is it not worth the trouble?

I also have four heavy 100% cotton t-shirts in Macy's Petites house brand aka Karen Scott. All it says is 100% cotton. They never fit snug but they are now stretched out. I'd like to shrink them. I don't mind if they fade.

I don't know how to use hot water and laundry magic to shrink things. I have DIY ingredients such as vinegar, washing soda, zotes. I am willing to spend more time than reasonable to do this.

Again: I know I can buy replacements. I know they are cheap. I am not ready to concede defeat.

Still: if it is just not possible to do it without ruining the thing, please tell me. I would rather know, put on a brave face and get on with my life.

Here is the cotton blend for the Jeggings:

Cotton 75%
Polyester 21%
Spandex 4%

Tshirts: Karen Scott brand is like this.

100% cotton. Heavy soft cotton with a seam around the bottom, neck and sleeves. I just want to fit a bit more snug in the waist and torso.

For future reference, is there a repository of laundry-knowledge somewhere out there?

All these questions are all related-- at least in my mind, the mess and cleanup connects them all.
posted by CtrlAltD to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you been washing these items and drying them in a washer and dryer? If so, they likely will not shrink any more than they already have. You can give them a wash on hot and a dry on hot and you might get a little more shrink, but if you've been washing and drying them, you won't see much if any difference.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

If they've gone through the dryer, they're as small as they will get. Wool and some other animal fibers can be felted down to a smaller size (within reason), cotton won't shrink past what it does in the first wash cycle or two.

Cotton can be dyed with appropriate dyes; not those designed for wool. RIT ought to work. To dye a dark color you'll need to use plenty.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's no magic to it, it's just heat. But things don't generally shrink nicely. Those Karen Scott shirts, for example, may get shorter without getting tighter depending on how they're woven. If you've been washing and drying these things with heat for a while, they probably won't shrink at all.

That said, it seems like it's worth a try... just wash them on hot and dry them on hot and see what happens. Same with dying the Jeggings... just bleach them, then get some Rit and follow the instructions. It seems like these clothes are trash if you don't give it a shot anyway, so you don't have anything to lose.
posted by brainmouse at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2015

You can dye the Jeggings using a dye like RIT or procion dyes but only the cotton content will take the dye so the result will be heathered. Also the threads they are sewn with probably will not take the dye.

The 100% cotton shirt can be dyed. The thread the seams are sewn with may not take the dye. You can use RIT or procion dyes.

You might get them to shrink a tinybit in very hot water... but not from a Med to a SM... Also, for the future, things don't shrink proportionally so they may end up short but wide.
If you want, you can tailor the shirt by re-sewwing it (assuming you are handy with a sewing machine).
posted by LittleMy at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hot water and high dryer heat will shrink 100% cotton, to a degree. There's no magic about it. Wash everything in super hot water and dry on high. I've found that things lose their shape pretty badly when I accidentally do this, and the shrinkage isn't uniform.

Poly-spandex blends just lose their stretchiness and look ratty if you try to do this.

As for dyeing, it's a crap-shoot, you'd have to test the fabric. Here's an e-How

I wouldn't bother with any of this. Your chances of success are very low and it's nice to celebrate your success with new things.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2015

Can you sew? I have taken in t-shirts successfully. And I'd give the jeggings a shot too, just remember to not take them in too much; got to leave a little "wiggle room"!

On review, what LittleMy said!
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2015

Yes, you can probably shrink water and a hot dryer should do the trick. However, you cannot predict how they will shrink. And, I can assure you, they will not shrink uniformly in all dimensions. For instance, in my experience, t-shirts will shrink like crazy in the height dimension before they shrink even a bit in the width dimension. It has a lot to do with how the fabric is woven, I believe.

Just go buy some new duds. It's fun to do when you've lost weight! Congrats!
posted by Thorzdad at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Once you have determined that the shirt is as small as it can get by shrinking, your next step is to get out a sewing machine and perform the world's most easy alteration: taking in the side seams. It's easy because nobody will ever see the seam, it won't unravel, and it's just a straight line. Just turn the shirt inside out, and determine the width of the final product based on a shirt of yours that fits the way you want. The sleeves can also be smallened during this procedure. You can probably even do it with just a needle and thread if you don't have a sewing machine.

Here is a tutorial to get you started

As for the jean+leggings, I might also try taking in the seams if the sewing machine can handle thick fabric. The outer seams might be easier than the inseam.
posted by oxisos at 10:07 AM on January 8, 2015

I've not had great luck shrinking clothes down by an entire size. Especially if you've ever washed the item before. I bought a t-shirt at target last night without trying it on, and I'm hoping it shrinks a little in the wash. But a full size after it's already been washed is too much to expect.

If you want a t-shirt to fit you differently in the torso (and you are female), I've had good luck trying different bras. A more substantial/supportive bra will usually fill the top out a little more, which will in general make it seem like the shirt is oversized on purpose and not just a bad fit.

A stretched out shirt usually looks worn out in general, though. If anyone knows a way to bring a worn out shirt back from the brink, please let me know!
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 AM on January 8, 2015

Don't try to shrink anything with spandex content. Hot water damages spandex. Take in the side seams by sewing, as oxisos recommended.

Using a fuchsia color dye will turn a dark blue into a blueish purple. Dye is transparent, so you will see the original color right through the dye. The faded parts will end up looking brighter and less blue. Generally it works pretty well to dye only 75% of the fibers in a garment. Don't even try to dye the polyester in the jeans, because polyester has to be dyed with a special dye that requires extensive boiling.

Do not use Rit dye unless you want the dye to bleed in the laundry and ruin everything you wash your dyed clothes with later. Rit dye fades quickly since it does not bond firmly to the fabric. It needs hot water to work, and hot water is, as mentioned above, very bad for spandex. Instead, use Procion dye (order from Dharma Trading Company). It lasts a lot longer, is available in more and better colors, does not require hot water, and does not endanger your other laundry.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I am not going to do anything to these items. I can imagine they will look terrible if I do. I can wear them as mom jeans or give them to someone who they'd fit.
posted by CtrlAltD at 7:27 AM on January 10, 2015

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