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Shirt Shrinkage General

Circlingdrains

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Hello, I am a long time lurker who's recently had to buy a new work wardrobe due to COVID weight gain. Shirt shrinkage and the hassle that accompanies having to estimate shirt shrinkage following a few washes have been a long standing frustration of mine. It makes trying new makes of shirts difficult since you now not only have to account for differences in fit, but also differences in shrinkage.

Searching through Styleforum's archives indicates this is a frustration shared by many. I therefore thought it would make sense to have a repository of knowledge focussed on shirt shrinkage.

I recently bought several Harvie & Hudson shirts and saw an opportunity to kick start something like this.


Methodology
2 shirts of size 15.5 inches, sleeve length 35.5 were bought online. A series of measurements were taken before the shirts were laundered at 50C. The shirts were washed, then measured until they stopped shrinking.

The shirts tested were as follows:

Shirt 1: Harvie & Hudson Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Shirt 2: Harvie & Hudson Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Measurements were taken the back, on the collar, and along the lower seam of the right sleeve.

Results
Shirt 1: Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.375​
16.25​
16.125​
16.125​
16.125​
Back
18.625​
18.375​
18.25​
18.25​
18.25​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.25​
19.125​
19.125​
19.125​

Shirt 2: Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.125​
15.875​
15.75​
15.625​
15.625​
Back
19​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​

-----

Looking at the results, it seems to me I should be laundering H&H shirts at least 3 times before wearing them, and sizing down half a collar size when buying twill shirts.

I will continue to update this thread when I buy new shirts but hopefully, others can contribute.
 

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St1X

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What your washing instructions say? I've never seen shirts that are recommended to be washed at 50C. All my shirts are washed at 30C
 

Circlingdrains

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What your washing instructions say? I've never seen shirts that are recommended to be washed at 50C. All my shirts are washed at 30C
Its meant to be at 40C but I made a mistake and ran with it, esp seeing how "oversized" the shirts were out of the package.
 

floridasenior

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Nov 29, 2021
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Hello, I am a long time lurker who's recently had to buy a new work wardrobe due to COVID weight gain. Shirt shrinkage and the hassle that accompanies having to estimate shirt shrinkage following a few washes have been a long standing frustration of mine. It makes trying new makes of shirts difficult since you now not only have to account for differences in fit, but also differences in shrinkage.

Searching through Styleforum's archives indicates this is a frustration shared by many. I therefore thought it would make sense to have a repository of knowledge focussed on shirt shrinkage.

I recently bought several Harvie & Hudson shirts and saw an opportunity to kick start something like this.


Methodology
2 shirts of size 15.5 inches, sleeve length 35.5 were bought online. A series of measurements were taken before the shirts were laundered at 50C. The shirts were washed, then measured until they stopped shrinking.

The shirts tested were as follows:

Shirt 1: Harvie & Hudson Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Shirt 2: Harvie & Hudson Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Measurements were taken the back, on the collar, and along the lower seam of the right sleeve.

Results
Shirt 1: Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.375​
16.25​
16.125​
16.125​
16.125​
Back
18.625​
18.375​
18.25​
18.25​
18.25​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.25​
19.125​
19.125​
19.125​

Shirt 2: Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.125​
15.875​
15.75​
15.625​
15.625​
Back
19​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​

-----

Looking at the results, it seems to me I should be laundering H&H shirts at least 3 times before wearing them, and sizing down half a collar size when buying twill shirts.

I will continue to update this thread when I buy new shirts but hopefully, others can contribute.
I have a similar problem with dress shirts. I wash and dry them per the manufacturer's directions (wash warm and tumble dry low) and the sleeve length shrinks 1/4 to 1/2 inch. I posted earlier on this forum and the most common recommendation was to wash cold and hang dry.
My ideal sleeve length is 34 inches. What works best for me is to by a 35 inch sleeve length, launder the shirt per the manufacturers directions (warm wash and tumble dry low) three times and them shorten the sleeves at the cuff to get the desired 34 inch sleeve length. After shortening, I launder with a warm wash and dry on the lowest dryer setting for 10 minutes. At this point the shirt is slightly damp and I hang dry. Laundering this way does not seem to cause any more shrinkage. I do my own shortening so there is no cost involved other than my time (I am retired and theoretically have all the time in the world).
 

shirtingfantasy

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I like shirts, and have a fair number of shirts (mostly bespoke, and around 5% RTW), so I think I may offer my 2 cents.

When I go to a new tailor, I always ask the question: do you pre-shrink the fabric before making? If they answer yes, I further clarify how they do so. It’s important to know since it affects subsequent shirt care. If they say they just soak fabric in water and hang dry (“because I don’t want to damage the fabric!”), I would often offer to do the prewashing and preshrinking myself. Many tailors do not properly pre-shrink fabric because it is easier to just cut the fabric straight from the roll / cut, as washed and dried fabric can take up to half an hour to iron out the excessive wrinkles.

Pure linen and some loosely woven fabric seem to have poorer dimensional stability. And the weft and warp direction also have different shrinkage percentage. What I do for linen shirting, for example, is wash and tumble dry high heat - up to a total of 3 times. I believe it simulates the most abusive use case, and my subsequent usual cycles can’t exceed that (I use the shirt cycle on my Miele machine, which defaults to 60C, and then I will hang dry the shirts after spinning and iron whilst slightly damp).

There is one point of shrinkage you can never quite eliminate: the interlining which dictates the diameter of the collar and cuffs. If you buy RTW shirts, you can estimate the shrinkage amount by washing and drying a few cycles - and account for that when you buy the next shirts. If you have shirts made by a tailor, you will often have to do the same for a different type of interlining (e.g. Wendler vs Alumo, fused vs non-fused, thick vs ultra thin).

I am @shirtingfantasy. My journey began from reading @AmericanGent and @mafoofan here. It is my honour and pleasure to contribute to the SF community when I finally can.
 

joorinainen

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Mar 12, 2016
Messages
51
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13
Hello, I am a long time lurker who's recently had to buy a new work wardrobe due to COVID weight gain. Shirt shrinkage and the hassle that accompanies having to estimate shirt shrinkage following a few washes have been a long standing frustration of mine. It makes trying new makes of shirts difficult since you now not only have to account for differences in fit, but also differences in shrinkage.

Searching through Styleforum's archives indicates this is a frustration shared by many. I therefore thought it would make sense to have a repository of knowledge focussed on shirt shrinkage.

I recently bought several Harvie & Hudson shirts and saw an opportunity to kick start something like this.


Methodology
2 shirts of size 15.5 inches, sleeve length 35.5 were bought online. A series of measurements were taken before the shirts were laundered at 50C. The shirts were washed, then measured until they stopped shrinking.

The shirts tested were as follows:

Shirt 1: Harvie & Hudson Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Shirt 2: Harvie & Hudson Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5.

Measurements were taken the back, on the collar, and along the lower seam of the right sleeve.

Results
Shirt 1: Blue fine Twill, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.375​
16.25​
16.125​
16.125​
16.125​
Back
18.625​
18.375​
18.25​
18.25​
18.25​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.25​
19.125​
19.125​
19.125​

Shirt 2: Blue Graph Poplin, size 15.5L, sleeve 36, shortened to 35.5:

Pre-WashWash 1Wash 2Wash 3Wash 4
Collar
16.125​
15.875​
15.75​
15.625​
15.625​
Back
19​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
18.625​
Sleeve
19.75​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​
19.375​

-----

Looking at the results, it seems to me I should be laundering H&H shirts at least 3 times before wearing them, and sizing down half a collar size when buying twill shirts.

I will continue to update this thread when I buy new shirts but hopefully, others can contribute.

Impressive study and great topic. I have made quite a few shirts through Shirtonomy and their shrinkage varies a lot. I was recently on a trip and i thought long and hard whether i would trust a 5-star hotel do the laundry of my brand new shirt. Shirt was never washed. I wrote to the laundry slip "new shirt. low heat do not tumble dry". Shirt came back and had shrinked to the point of me likely never use it again.

How is that the shirts that are the least expensive you can run over them with a bulldozer and wash accidently in 60 celsius and they still are somewhat ok and the ones you babysit and try to care with all your heart are instantly ruined if you happen leave your window for one hour ;)
 

Jmr928

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Why would you tumble dry your shirts?
I regularly tumble dry most of my shirts (linen excepted) on low/medium heat after washing in cold and then press while they’re still slightly damp. A combination of not having space to hang dry everything, having more control over how damp they are when I get around to pressing them, and convenience.
 

Shirtmaven

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I have making shirts for almost 40 years.
Most makers allow for shrinkage.
Collars 1/2“. And sleeves 1/2-3/4".
Brooks brothers allows 3/4“ in their collars. I measure from the inside of the collar band. button to just inside the end of the button hole.

If your shirts has been garment washed, you should be ok for shrinkage.

Fabric mills do not pre wash fabric.
Shirting is sanforized. Reducing shrinkage to 1-3%. Non Sanforized fabrics. Like madras will shrink 5%.

The dryer is the nemesis of shirts.
If you accidentally put your shirts in with your sox and t-shirts. Them prepare to cry. A little.

Lastly commercial cleaners using the standard pressing equipment can stretch the shirt sleeves..
 

ridgerider

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I spoke with my dry cleaner about this and she lamented how many shirt makers (RTW mostly) don't preshrink their fabric. She was a big fan of Charles Tyrwhitt. My personal experience is that brand does not shrink. I have had shirts made that do, and I've seen the same shrinkage your measurements showed.

One way to reduce the shrinkage, no science behind this, but it is to wash in cold water and hang dry. I use this method exclusively on my linen shirts and some cotton.
 

Shirtmaven

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I spoke with my dry cleaner about this and she lamented how many shirt makers (RTW mostly) don't preshrink their fabric. She was a big fan of Charles Tyrwhitt. My personal experience is that brand does not shrink. I have had shirts made that do, and I've seen the same shrinkage your measurements showed.

One way to reduce the shrinkage, no science behind this, but it is to wash in cold water and hang dry. I use this method exclusively on my linen shirts and some cotton.
I prewash fabric occasionally. It is a lot of work to wash, dry and press before cutting.
 

ridgerider

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I prewash fabric occasionally. It is a lot of work to wash, dry and press before cutting.
I would imagine it would be. Probably just as easy to add the shrinkage to your pattern and let the shrinkage occur.
 

shirtingfantasy

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Why would you tumble dry your shirts?
Because it’s more “hygienic”. When I was younger I used to wear the same shirt for more than one day before washing, and a distinct sweaty smell can emerge upon ironing if I do not wash with hot water + tumble dry.

Washing with the right detergent probably removes 99% of the bacteria, and tumble dry an additional 0.9%. More importantly, “smells” are volatile acids and amines so they are effectively removed if you keep steaming them at high temperatures (that’s tumble dry, I reckon).

For some who wear non-iron, easy care or nano treatment shirts, tumble drying is recommended to allow the treatment to fully perform.

P.S. For the record, I have put 200/2 DJA, 180/2 Carlo Riva and 300/3 Atelier Romentino shirts through tumble dry cycles - not that deliberately, but then even very fine cotton won’t fray immediately. Only shrinkage is immediate.
 

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