I wanted to share a hot tip that took me ten years in the apparel industry to learn: irons will fix A LOT of your problems.
Did you know that if you shrink a garment, applied heat functions differently than heat from your dryer? We all know that dryers tumble and shrink nearly all natural fibers (we all know that, right?). Dryers are as hard on your garment as washing/drying can be on your hair... in fact, garments actually get the raw end of the deal because there are no natural oils or growth to counteract the effects of this harsh treatment, so really, it can be pretty hard on your garment -- especially if it's a natural fiber.
The difference between applied heat (an iron or steamer) is that it presses as it heats which can restore the weft of the weave on your fabric and keeps grain between the weft and the warp in alignment. (see image):
^Pretty handy little image here.^ To test this out, we wanted to show you a few garments before/after they have been pressed back to their original shape!
We used a domestic home iron for this project (which are the kinds you should have access to at any department store). Our industrial iron is a mind blowing device, but takes up a lot of space ;)
The first garment is a Challis Rayon (a plant based fiber) dress from American Apparel that I have had for YEARS. Crud, I sent it through the dryer! See the before and after! (That leg tattoo really gives us a neat metric on this!). We were able to add 4" to the hem of this dress, just by pressing it!!
Here's a before and after of a crepe rayon garment that didn't even go into the washer. Like many/most plant-based fibers, this textile will absorb water and cause the weft and the warp to shrink up. But look what happens when we press it out! We gained 2.5" to the hem of this dress, and a whole lot more room in the drape by pressing it and correcting the weft of the fabric!
We have also been seeing a lot of rad ladies online sharing tips about shrunken garments (which, full disclosure: I have never personally tried). Apparently baby shampoo holds some mysterious alchemy and will unshrink your garments. You can watch that here!
Lastly, please take a look at our CARE INSTRUCTIONS page for more hot tips on caring for your handmade, natural fibers and deadstock textiles!