How can I unshrink 1970's woven upholstery fabric?

by Sandrine

Hi. I'm re-upholstering some 1970's chairs. I washed one of the covers (in tepid water) and it shrank. I believe it's made of wool or a wool blend. Do you know if ironing it will loosen the fibres? Or know of another way I can loosen them? I have attached a photo. Any advice? All help welcome! Many thanks Sandrine

  4 answers
  • Heat and ironing and the tepid water will make it shrink. Soak in cold water with a copious amount of fabric softener overnight or at least a few hours and then try and stretch back into original shape.

  • Carolyn Carolyn on May 26, 2019

    You also can soak it overnight in a bottle of hair conditioner, no water added. Then, the next day, pull and shape it without wringing or rinsing the conditioner out. Just lay it flat to dry after you have shaped it back to it's former size and shape.

    • See 1 previous
    • Carolyn Carolyn on May 27, 2019

      In my experience, it has not felt soapy at all. It does feel a little bit different, but that goes away after it is used. I have used this technique on sweaters and scarves, and it always works. You may even have to use more than one bottle, depending on the size of the material, as it needs to be completely immersed in the conditioner.

  • William William on May 26, 2019

    I agree. Ironing it will set the fibers. Best solution is to wet the fabric with water and fabric softener. Stretch it to get it back into shape. Pin it, clamp it, clothes pin it to a frame, board, etc. to keep the shape.

  • Sandrine Sandrine on Jun 06, 2019

    Thanks for all the advice! I ended up soaking the fabric overnight in a little cold water with lots of hair conditioner and some vinager. I blotted out the excess water with towels (no ringing), then stretched out the fabric out on a piece of board, pinning first with nails. It was hard to pull and hold a nail and hammer so I switched to a staple gun. Managed to get fabric back to original size. Oh, also I did add some fabric all around the edges so I wouldn't tear the vintage fabric (wide machine stitch). Thanks again! Sandrine

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