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How to Shrink Button-Down Shirt – Best Way

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Are you looking to shrink a button-down shirt to fit you? Shrinking a button down shirt depends on the fabric content and the shrink process applied.

Other than using button-down shirt to make summer dresses or trendy women’s blouses, there are various ways to make your oversized shirt into wearable clothes. But if you are searching for solution that involves without sewing, shrinking is your best bet.

How do you shrink a button-down shirt? There are three ways to shrink a button-down shirt: boiling hot water, washing machine, and dryer. 

These methods use high heat temperature to naturally trigger shrinkage. Since most button-down shirts are made out of 100% cotton, shrinking can range from 1% to 20% depending on the whether or not the garment has been preshrunk by the manufacturer.

Many individuals dislike shrinking their clothes, however there may come a time when shrinking is the ideal option to solve a fit problem. 

If you have never imagined shrinking clothes before, well you can start it now. It is a simple process that does not require a sewing machine and can help transform the loose look of a shirt so that it fits you like a glove.

In this article, we are going to learn how much a button down shirt will shrink with tips and technique to permanently set-in the shrinkage. Answered below are frequently asked questions about clothing shrinkage along with the best way to shrink button-down shirts.

Do button-up shirts shrink?

Yes, button-up shirts do shrink, posing an issue for individuals who have bought them with specific measurements. 

There are scenarios where button-up shirts are preshrunk, therefore shrinkage should be minimal. Notwithstanding, many sewers will leave room for shrinkage when making a shirt by giving a 1-3% allowance, which is the minimum shrinkage amount.

Button up shirts are mainly made from cotton, which is a fabric perceived to shrink approximately 1-3% if already preshrunk, but may shrink between 10% to 20% if the fabric was not shrunk beforehand. 

In general, a button-down shirt will not shrink after the first few times of wash. But the initial wash is perceived to cause the most shrinkage. 

A quality button-up shirt will undeniably shrink to some extent, but some can shrink to an unnoticeable extent. This 1-3% shrinkage sounds something to not worry about, but indeed it can lead to significant shrinkage based on if it is from the sleeve or collar length. 

When your button-up shirt shrinks, it does so more in length compared to its width. As the garment is distorted slightly using this approach, the width sometimes can expand, which can be noticed by being loose around the middle, chest, or arms.

Will a 100% cotton shirt shrink?

Yes, a 100% cotton shirt can shrink. Usually, the cotton fabric does shrink when washing and stretch when wearing.

In most cases, cotton shirts also stretch when introduced to cold water and shrink as it dries up or contact with heat. It may shrink by approximately 5%, but 1-3% are more common. 

This shrinking lowers the durability of the shirt. Luckily, there are ways you can wash 100% cotton shirts to boost their appearance and longevity.

Generally, the most shrinking occurs during the drying phase because it is common to wash button down shirts in cold water. This drying phase still has a source of heat, like an electric or gas dryer. 

The intense heat during the drying phase makes the natural fiber scrunch together, but it should not lead to an abnormal size.

How much will a 100% cotton shirt shrink?

A very straightforward answer is that 100% cotton shirt can shrink as much as 20% when using a high heat dryer for an extended amount of time. 

Now, this is just an estimation because it can be hard to accurately measure 20% and depend on how many shirt is in one drying cycle. Despite that, measure this percentage by considering the size before and after putting it into the dryer.   

Normally, if the shirt fits you well prior to washing and drying, shrinking up to 20% can make it too small or tight. In such a situation, do not place it into the dryer, instead air dry them to prevent from shrinking.

If the fitting is relatively large, 20% shrinkage can be an awesome to make it fit you better. It can be challenging to shrink 100% cotton shirt to 20%, but this does not mean it is not achievable.

Tips to shrink a button-down shirt

No matter what, button-down shirts can easily be shrunk with a few simple steps. They can resolve the length and width of the shirt without sewing to take in the sizing. 

Here are essential tips to shrink a button-down shirt at home:

  • Always consider the following tips when looking forward to shrinking button-down shirts.
  • Natural cotton fiber shirts will shrink effortlessly compared to synthetic options. Be sure to confirm the care label before getting started.
  • Wash the button-down cotton shirt in hot water to initiate shrinkage.
  • Place the garment into a tumble dryer on high heat to foster constriction.
  • If shrinkage is noticeable, then repeat the procedure until you achieve the perfect size.

Ensure the button-down shirt is made out of natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, or wool. Based on the content of the fabric, the shirt may not shrink the same all over and may not give the effect you want. 

Carefully review the washing instruction of the shirt prior to shrinking as this process can not be undone, and frequently shrinking a button down shirt with high heat and hot water will affects its durability.

Best way to shrink a button-down shirt

Checking the garment material and care label must be your initial concern when looking to shrink clothing. Remember that applying intense heat to garments will cause them to immediately reduce the size. 

Alternatively, fabrics contract differently, which means some contract faster than others. With that in mind, you can shrink a button down shirt using hot water, a washing machine, and a dryer.

Use hot water to shrink the button-down shirt by submerging it. This should be done carefully to avoid burning and leave the shirt in the hot water for about 5 minutes. 

Dry the shirt and repeat the process until you achieve the desired size, which can actually make your shirt fit you like a glove. 

After washing your shirt in a washer, right away transfer to a high heat tumble dryer. 

Allow the button up shirt to cool, then try on to check the sizing. If shrinking was achieved, but you still need a bit more, then repeat the process to get the results you are looking for.

How to shrink button down shirt

Shrinking Button-Down Shirts: Conclusion

Caring for a 100% cotton button-down shirt is not as complicated as most individuals think. The rule of thumb is washing them correctly to enhance their lifespan. 

The fabric also gives you a chance to shrink it and make your shirt both fitting and comfortable. Button down shirts are easily shrunk to fit you better without sewing. 

There are three ways to shrink a button-down shirt: boiling water, washing machine, and dryer method. 

Before applying these shrinking  techniques, read the care label and understand what content each shirt is made of. Some shirts react better to heat than the other, and the care label will provide adequate instructions for you to follow. 

In a pot on a stove, boil water and soak the shirt for about 5 minutes. Carefully take it out with tongs, cool the shirt and then check the shrinkage. Air dry on a flat surface to set-in the shrinkage and verify the sizing.

When using washing machine, adjust the setting to high temperature, and place similar colored button-down shirt in the same load. Take them out and evaluate the size and repeat the process until your desired size is reached.

Dryer can be great option that can be done after washing a shirt with cold water. Simply throw it in a tumble dryer and set on high heat to instigate shrinkage. 

All of these methods require high heat to get the shrinkage. Generally, a shirt shrinks 1 to 3% depending on the fabric content and temperature of heat applied. However, shrinkage can reach a maximum of 20% if the fabric was not preshrunk before manufacturing the garment.

Start with medium heat and repeat the process to protect the fibers instead of applying extreme heat right away. Therefore you have better control on how much shrinkage you are looking for, and keep the heat damage on the fabric to a minimum. 

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