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How To Resize A Shrunken Sweater

One of my favorite things to wear when it's cold outside is a baby pink cashmere vintage sweater dress. I still remember the first time I wore it - the color was perfect, it was warm, it hugged me in all the right places, and most importantly it was long enough to cover my knees. I know most people don't think twice about showing their knees, but I feel really self conscious about mine so it's a rare day that my knees see the light of day.

On one of the last cold days we had here in Boulder, I was very excited to wear my favorite sweater dress because I knew that this was one of my last chances to wear it - with spring just around the corner, all my warm lovelies would be put away for the season within (hopefully) a few weeks. But when I put it on I was horrified. My knees were showing!

Ack! Knees!

I was about ready to burst into tears (yes, really) when I thought of something. Maybe I could use blocking to resize my dress to the length it was before. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, blocking is a technique used by knitters and crocheters to stretch and shape an unfinished piece to be the right size and make sure the stitches are evenly spaced. I've knit and crocheted things before but had never taken the time to block anything so I wasn't sure if this would work or exactly how to do it on my dress, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Stretched, pinned and drying

First, I washed the dress in my washing machine on the cold and delicate cycle. I wanted to do this in the machine to take advantage of the spin cycle so that the dress wouldn't be sopping wet when I went to block it. You could also just dampen the article of clothing, or wash it by hand and let it take it's time to dry, but I wasn't patient enough to take that route. Once the dress was washed, I placed a towel on my floor and started slowly stretching the dress to the right length, making sure not to rip any seams. Once it was the length I wanted, I started pinning away with my rust-proof straight pins that I use for sewing. I pinned along all the edges, making sure the pins were deep enough into the carpet that the would hold the shape of the dress. If you don't have carpet you could always do this on your bed, but I would put a large plastic garbage bag between the mattress and the towel to make sure your mattress doesn't soak up the water from the clothing. One more thing to note is that if you have animals or small children who might try to eat the pins, you will want to do this in a place where you can make sure they won't be able to get to the pins. I did this in our bedroom so that I could close the door to keep our kitty Millie Joelle out of the space. Once I was done pinning, I crossed my fingers that it would work, closed the bedroom door and let it completely air dry. When the dress was dry, I tried it on and:

After one round of stretching

No more knees!! It's still not as long as I'd like it to be so I'm going to do the wash-stretch-pin-dry routine again and I'm sure by the end of that second round it will be back to normal.

Even though it's the end of April, I'm sort-of hoping for another cold day so I can wear my favorite sweater dress one more time before putting it away for the season. But if that doesn't happen, at least I know what to do now if I end up accidentally shrinking anything else. Let me know if you try this technique!


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